A group called Jewish Voice for Peace -- which is highly critical of Israel's government -- is organizing petitions and hoping to force votes by TIAA-CREF to divest from holdings in companies that the group says "proï¬t from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." The group notes past TIAA-CREF policies on investments in companies linked to the Sudan and says that Israel should be the next country sanctioned in this way. TIAA-CREF is opposing the divestment idea. "While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views. Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy," said a statement from the pension giant. As to the Sudan comparison, TIAA-CREF noted that its policies there have been consistent with those of the U.S. government, which does not endorse a boycott of Israel. "We believe that concerns about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are best addressed by U.S. foreign policy and lend themselves less to using one’s shareholder status to influence portfolio companies," said the statement.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has put Ball State University on three years' probation for rules violations in its women’s tennis program. The NCAA report, released Wednesday, notes that Kathy Bull, former coach, required her players “to participate in playing and practice hours that exceeded time limitations," “failed to provide two calendar days off per week” and “required student-athletes to participate in mandatory athletic activities during the summer vacation period.” In addition to the probation, the women’s tennis team at Ball State will have its allowable playing and practice time limited further this coming season. Bull received a three-year show-cause order, which “outlines how athletic duties must be limited” if she takes another coaching job.
Birmingham-Southern College has announced deep cuts and layoffs, following the discovery of errors in the way the college was awarding financial aid that have resulted in the need to cut spending by about $10 million a year, The Birmingham News reported. The cuts include 51 layoffs, pay cuts that average 10 percent for all employees (but that are larger for those who are more highly compensated), two one-week furloughs for non-faculty employees, and suspension of contributions to retirement funds.
Betty White is becoming a community college professor -- of the fictional variety. The Los Angeles Times reported that she will guest star on the NBC show "Community," playing June Bauer, " an esteemed but slightly unhinged anthropology professor." The show was originally the cause of much concern among community college educators, but many have come around.
The University of Michigan's medical school recently toughened its conflict of interest rules by barring pharmaceutical industry funding to support continuing medical education. That leaves some wondering why the university's president, Mary Sue Coleman, sits on the board of Johnson & Johnson, The Detroit Free Press reported. Coleman sees the situations as different, noting that she is not involved with the kinds of decisions at the medical school that could directly involve Johnson & Johnson's products. "It's essential that U-M have a voice and interact with the business world," a university spokesman told the Free Press. "She thinks it's her duty to understand what the commercial world is doing."
Across the University of California system, freshmen from outside of California (including those from outside the United States) will increase to 8 percent this year, up from 6 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported. The increases are intended to bring in revenue, but some worry about the impact on the admission of Californians to the highly competitive university system. Among those from California, Asian Americans are the largest ethnic group, with 40.7 percent of the class. White students will make up 26.2 percent, Latinos 23.1 percent and African Americans 3.9 percent of the class.
Sallie Mae and Student Loan XPress gave illegal inducements to private student loan borrowers at institutions run by Corinthian Colleges Inc., the Education Department's inspector general said in an audit this week. According to the audit, Sallie Mae provided for parents of students at Corinthian institutions to get a "one-time $500 credit towards their closing costs of a new home loan" from the lender if the parent took out a parental student loan (known as PLUS) from Sallie Mae. The audit also uncovered inappropriate inducements made by Student Loan XPress, although the department concedes that a 2009 settlement with the lender may mean that it will not face further penalties. The inspector general urges the department's Federal Student Aid office to consider penalties against Sallie Mae, which disputes the IG's conclusions that the inducements were illegal.
When they're criticized for doing too little to measure how much and how well their students learn, colleges often complain that they don't get enough credit for the assessment activity in which they engage. A new report suggests that the institutions themselves are partially responsible for that gap. "Exploring the Landscape: What Institutional Websites Reveal About Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Activities," released by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, compared what campus provosts said their institutions were doing on assessment with the information about assessment that was available on the colleges' Web sites. “To the extent an institution’s website is a window into its performance, this study shows that schools need to do more to inform the public about what they are doing with regard to assessing student learning outcomes,” said George Kuh, the Indiana University professor who heads NILOA.
Twenty-seven colleges and universities have filed a brief with a federal appeals court backing the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in its dispute with a sports artist that the university says did not have the right to paint and sell images of Crimson Tide football games, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The universities include all Southeastern Conference members except Mississippi State University. Prominent backers from other conferences include the University of Notre Dame, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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