Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 17, 2018

Fifty-seven American colleges have committed to give at least two annual, renewable scholarships covering a minimum of 50 percent of tuition to international students next fall as part of the #YouAreWelcomeHere initiative. The initiative began after the 2016 elections as a social media campaign intended to convey colleges' openness to international students and recently expanded to include a scholarship component. A list of colleges that have committed to provide scholarships can be found here.

September 17, 2018

In today's Academic Minute, Steven Pirutinsky of Touro College explores if volunteering will provide benefits for all older adults. The recording will be posted later this morning. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence is still moving and it remains unclear how much damage it will do to colleges in the Carolinas. At Inside Higher Ed, we hope the damage is minimal and welcome reports from colleges on how they are faring. Please email editor@insidehighered.com.

Colleges throughout the region are closed, many of them with mandatory campus evacuations.

Many students from the College of Charleston have been evacuated to the University of South Carolina, which posted this photo.

East Carolina University tweeted photos (below) of some of its students volunteering in various efforts before Florence's arrival.

September 14, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh (at right) provided answers to numerous questions from senators about the Supreme Court nominee's views on many issues, including the policies of many colleges to consider race and ethnicity in admissions. In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court has said that colleges have that right, at least under certain conditions. Kavanaugh, however, did not not endorse those decisions.

He was asked about his work for President George W. Bush, who opposed the University of Michigan's policies to consider race in admissions, and whether he supported "only race-neutral" efforts. Kavanaugh's answer: "As a lawyer in the White House, any views I expressed would have been in keeping with trying to advance President Bush’s legal and policy agenda. As a judge and a nominee, your question implicates issues that remain in dispute and that may come before me as a judge. As I discussed at the hearing, and in keeping with nominee precedent, it would be improper for me as a sitting judge and a nominee to comment on cases or issues that might come before me."

Kavanaugh was also asked why, given his pride in hiring female and minority law clerks, he has not affirmed the right of colleges to consider race and gender in admissions. His answer: "I am proud of my record of hiring the best to serve as my law clerks -- including women and minorities -- and of my efforts to promote diversity. The extent to which public universities may consider certain factors as admissions criteria is the subject of precedent and ongoing litigation. As I discussed at the hearing, and in keeping with nominee precedent, it would be improper for me as a sitting judge and a nominee to comment on cases or issues that might come before me."

September 14, 2018

An Oregon grand jury has declined to indict two police officers at Portland State University who shot and killed a man this summer. Many students and others have said the man, Jason Washington, was doing nothing wrong, and was trying to break up a fight when he was shot. The incident led many student groups to call for the university to stop arming its police officers.

Rahmat Shoureshi, president of the university, issued a statement after the grand jury's decision in which he noted that the university will review -- with independent experts -- the incident and campus security policies. "Mr. Washington's death has deeply shaken all those involved as well as the greater campus community, and we are determined to learn from it," the statement said.

September 14, 2018

George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health defended its study on Hurricane Maria-related mortality rates in Puerto Rico on Thursday after President Trump falsely said on Twitter that an estimated death toll of around 3,000 was manufactured by Democrats who wanted to make him look bad.

 

The study by George Washington's public health school found 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in September 2017.

"Researchers at the Milken Institute SPH in collaboration with scientists at the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Public Health analyzed mortality, via use of death certificates and related information, from September 2017 through the end of February 2018," the Milken Institute School of Public Health said in its statement on the study, which can be read online here. "Using a state-of-the-art mathematical model, the team compared the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number based on historical patterns as well as age, sex, socioeconomic status and migration from the island."

"This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference," the statement continues.

"Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest. We are confident that the number -- 2,975 -- is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date."

Trump's tweets about the Hurricane Maria death toll were sent Thursday morning as Hurricane Florence was approaching the Carolinas.

September 14, 2018

An adjunct instructor in the aviation program at Utah Valley University, James Green, has resigned after students complained about anti-Muslim comments he made in a posting on a course website, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The comments were Green's reflections on 9/11, which he described experiencing in Manhattan. At the end of his comments, he said that he was "very opposed" to Muslims' immigration to the United States because "they hate us and always will." A university spokesman said that Green resigned voluntarily. He declined to comment to the Tribune about the incident.

September 14, 2018

Questions are again being raised about the University of Michigan's investment practices and potential conflicts of interests between the institution and its officers and donors.

An investigative report published by the Detroit Free Press Thursday focused renewed attention on the university related to allegations by the newspaper that wealthy alumni with "sway over the university's $11-billion endowment have given thousands in campaign donations to members of the university's governing board."

The recent report follows a series of investigative articles published earlier this year by the Free Press which alleged that a large portion of the university's endowment was invested in private equity, hedge and venture capital funds, and real estate investment firms run by top university donors and alumni investment advisers.

University administrators strongly denied the new allegations and issued a long, written rebuttal.

"We categorically reject the innuendo from the Free Press that there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the university or members of our Board of Regents in how we interact with our donors or manage the university's investments," Rick Fitzgerald, the university's spokesperson, said in an emailed comment. "We are proud of the successful performance of our endowment and the ethical manner in which we manage our investments."

September 14, 2018

Dartmouth College has named Callie Brownson (at right) to be offensive quality control coach for its football team. The college says that it believes Brownson to be the first full-time female football coach at the Division I level. Previously, she played on a women's football team and was a coach at the Manning Passing Academy.

September 14, 2018

The first ACT which was exclusively computer based at international testing centers, given last weekend featured glitches that prevented some students from taking the exam. ACT has now announced that it will repeat the test September 29 for those who were unable to take the test as scheduled. Those who were unable to take the test as scheduled will not be charged.

ACT officials said that they did not know how many students were unable to take the test, but that a "large majority" had been able to do so.

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