Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 25, 2009

Idaho State University asked the chair of the physics department to quit as chair (while allowing him to stay on as a faculty member) for allowing a professor from Ecuador to teach without a proper visa, the Associated Press reported. The faculty member from Ecuador had taught legally at another college, but university officials said he didn't have Idaho State listed as an approved employer. The professor who was asked to leave as chair, Steven Shropshire, could not be reached for comment, but he earlier said that he had been letting the faculty member from Ecuador help students on an informal basis while working out his visa issues.

September 25, 2009

John Jay College of Criminal Justice was forced Thursday to close one of its buildings because of its bedbug "condition" (not "infestation," a campus spokesman insisted). President Jeremy Travis said the Manhattan college had brought in an outside company to treat North Hall, and that all classes and operations in the building would be moved elsewhere on the campus until Monday. The New York Times reported that campus administrators, especially in the financial aid and registrar's offices, had begun reporting rashes in mid-August, in ever-increasing numbers, and that a team of inspectors brought in on Tuesday had found bugs in more than half the rooms on the building's second floor.

September 25, 2009
Photo: Stephanie Lee

Protest at UC-Berkeley Thursday

A broad coalition at the University of California formed a united front Thursday, joining in a protest that participants say will be the first of many opposing budget cuts across the 10-campus system. Students, faculty, staff and unionized labor workers on a one-day strike participated in organized class walkouts, picketing and teach-ins. Jorge Serrato, a senior at the Riverside campus, had declared the Riverside campus’s walkout a success by mid-afternoon. “The whole [protest] spot was completely flooded by students,” said Serrato, raising his voice over bongo drums and bullhorns in the background. Participants in the Riverside protest estimated that as many as 500 to 1,000 protesters attended rallies at peak times. Davis campus officials used a Web site to communicate the impact of the walkout, indicating that some professors had canceled classes and e-mailed students syllabuses and assignments. Officials at the University of California president’s office said the protests had caused “minimal” disruptions to classes. The demonstrations came in response to the university regents' approach to filling an $813 million budget gap, which they have addressed with a combination of furloughs and tuition hikes. If regents approve another tuition increase in November, tuition could go up by as much as 45 percent in a two-year period.

September 25, 2009

Jehuda Reinharz announced Thursday that he will step down as president of Brandeis University after the end of the current academic year or when a successor is selected. The university's announcement listed many accomplishments of his 15-year tenure as president and included glowing praise from trustee leaders. But as The Boston Globe noted, Reinharz has been the subject of intense criticism in the last year from faculty members frustrated by the university's financial difficulties. Further, a plan (currently on hold) to sell the university's noted collection of modern art infuriated not only professors, but arts advocates nationwide. Reinharz told the Globe that the controversies didn't influence his decision, and that he felt that "the time is right."

September 25, 2009

The U.S. Senate approved legislation Thursday that would give the National Endowments for the Humanities and the Arts $161.3 million each in the 2010 fiscal year, $6.3 million more than the two agencies are receiving this year. The legislation, which provides funds for the Interior Department and numerous other agencies, also includes funds for tribal college programs through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

September 24, 2009

A majority of financial aid officers reported increases of 10 percent or more in the numbers of students applying for financial aid and receiving Pell Grants at their institutions, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Numbers were up pretty much across the board in the survey of nearly 500 aid officers: Sixty-one percent said aid applications were up by at least 10 percent over 2008-9, 63 percent said Pell Grant recipients had risen by 10 percent or more, and 65 percent said they had increased the number of students for whom they used "professional judgment" to reassess financial aid packages because of altered financial circumstances. Even so, more than half said they had at least 10 percent more students than they did last year who still had unmet financial need after receiving federal and state college assistance -- and 55 percent said they were awarding more institutional aid to fill the gap.

September 24, 2009

Is Emerson College the most crime-ridden college in the United States? The Daily Beast appears to think so, but not everyone agrees. The Daily Beast, Tina Brown's new Web site, ranked all colleges based on per capita crimes in federal reports, as well as other factors, and Emerson led the list. But as The Boston Globe noted, the federal reports are required to include adjacent neighborhoods -- and in Emerson's case, that means most of the crime that earned the college its ranking had nothing to do with Emerson. The college reported 160 incidents of assaults and robberies in its federal report, but only 6 involved its own students. One Boston news blogger characterized the Web site's formula as: "pi (3.14) x n + crime down the road x things colleges can't control = hysteria."

September 24, 2009

Two years after Oral Roberts University announced that it was $55 million in debt, the institution has announced that it is debt-free, The Tulsa News reported. The debt skyrocketed under the presidency of Richard Roberts, who quit amid accusations (which he denied) that he was misspending university funds. Much of the university's recovery is due to a large gift that came conditional on governance changes, but university officials said that fund raising generally has bounced back.

September 24, 2009

Sacred Heart University has become the latest institution to stop requiring the SAT or ACT for admission. A statement from the university said its new policy "gives students the autonomy to decide what information they believe best represents their qualifications for admission to the university. In so doing, it does not discriminate against students from underserved populations who have historically not performed as well on standardized tests despite their outstanding achievements in high school and potential for success in college. As a Catholic university that lives by its mission of deepening human understanding through diversity and celebrating the unique talents of each student, the decision to adopt a test-optional admissions policy is consistent with the philosophy of life and teaching at the university."

September 24, 2009

Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, is under fire by student groups for his contribution to a collection in The Times Higher on "The Seven Deadly Sins of the Academy." Kealey's contribution was on lust, and he wrote about female students. "Normal girls -- more interested in abs than in labs, more interested in pecs than specs, more interested in triceps than tripos -- will abjure their lecturers for the company of their peers, but nonetheless, most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays. What to do? Enjoy her! She's a perk," Kealey wrote. "She doesn't yet know that you are only Casaubon to her Dorothea, Howard Kirk to her Felicity Phee, and she will flaunt you her curves. Which you should admire daily to spice up your sex, nightly, with the wife.... So, sow your oats while you are young but enjoy the views -- and only the views -- when you are older." The BBC noted the outrage of student leaders but Kealey -- in a new comment in the Times Higher -- suggested that his critics need a sense of humor and perspective. "Because transgressional sex is inappropriate, the piece uses inappropriate and transgressional language to underscore the point -- a conventional literary device," he wrote.

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