Several American colleges and study abroad programs reported Tuesday that their students in New Zealand were accounted for and safe -- despite the devastating earthquake that hit the country. Among the institutions issuing statements about their students: The Institute for Study Abroad, at Butler University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Washington State University, Wheaton College (in Massachusetts) and Winona State University.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students at Southern University in Baton Rouge are mourning the murders of two students in separate incidents in a week, WAFB News reported. One student was shot and killed outside his apartment building. The other student was found beaten and partly burned in her home.
It appeared last year that the fight over the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" team name was over, with the university working out a deal to remove the name, which is seen as offensive by many Native Americans in ways that set off a conflict with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But the fight was revived this week with a vote by the North Dakota House of Representatives to require the university to keep the name, and to request that the state sue the NCAA, the Associated Press reported. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Students at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, have penned "The Student Poverty Song," as a protest over proposed tuition increases. Students in the video, attracting considerable attention in the province, are shown singing about their financial woes, trying to pay tuition bills in decidedly nontraditional currency, subsisting on hot dogs and suffering through cold showers to cut costs.
A broad coalition of higher education associations, expressing "grave" concerns, has urged Education Secretary Arne Duncan to withdraw a federal regulation that would, for the first time, create a federal definition of "credit hour" that the groups argue "federalized a basic academic concept and, at the same time, developed a complex, ambiguous and unworkable definition." The letter, signed by the president of the American Council on Education, Molly Corbett Broad, on behalf of more than 70 college associations and accrediting groups, says that the Education Department has ignored concerns that the groups expressed at various stages of the regulatory process, and that incorporating a definition of the credit hour in the federal regulatory code will "allow the Department of Education [through its accreditation advisory committee] to micro-manage campus academic programs."
Complete College America, a foundation-supported group seeking to improve graduation and completion rates of college students, is today launching a new program to encourage states to focus on these issues. The group is creating a grant program that will award 10 states grants of $1 million each to advance their efforts. In a Views essay at Inside Higher Ed today, Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlines the thinking behind the new program.
A vice president of the instructors' union at the Milwaukee Area Technical College is criticizing the speed with which the union and the college's board ratified a new contract -- amid debate in Wisconsin over a proposal to end most collective bargaining rights for public employees, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The contract has provisions that protect full-time faculty members from layoffs, but also concessions from the union on health insurance. Jim Benedum, second vice president of union, a local of the American Federation of Teachers, said that the union moved quickly to get the contract approved, and he objected to the message that such haste sent at a time the state might end collective bargaining rights. Before the vote, he said, he felt that "if we approve this, we’re going to be perceived by the public as arrogant snobs." Union leaders denied that the contract vote was rushed and said that Benedum was angry with the union over other issues.
Some faculty members at Texas Tech University are upset about a $500,000-a-year raise, to $2 million a year, for Tommy Tuberville, the head football coach, at a time when they are being told their salaries are frozen, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. University officials have said that the $1.5 million annual salary Tuberville has been paid is below market rates, but that's not swaying some professors. “If that was me, I would have turned it down,” said Julian Spallholz, a faculty senator and human sciences professor, of the coach's raise. “I would have been embarrassed."