A gesture from the new leader of a South African university is sparking a new debate over an ugly incident. Jonathan Jansen, the new rector of the University of the Free State, is the first black leader of the institution, which is in an Afrikaner dominated area. AFP reported that in his inaugural speech Friday, Jansen announced that the university would drop disciplinary charges against four white students who were found to have produced a video last year in which black workers were humiliated by being given food on which students had urinated. In his speech, Jansen said that letting the students return to the university would be "a model of racial reconciliation." But the African National Congress and other groups have denounced that stance.
Higher Education Quick Takes
More colleges are making portions smaller and adding nutritious ingredients (sometimes without telling) in efforts to encourage healthier eating habits in students, The Boston Globe reported. Among the changes: Smaller portions at Wellesley College, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, vegetables that are added to plates at Merrimack College when students ask for meat entrees, a reduction in the size of ice cream servings at Babson College, and a secret switch in the chocolate chip cookie recipe at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to one based on whole wheat.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday announced that the government will develop plans for an endowment to be used to supplement the salaries of top academics, many of whom in recent years have left Israel for the United States, Haaretz reported. He said that the goal was both to prevent further losses and to lure back to Israel some who have already left.
Following an intense lobbying drive by colleges and students in Illinois, a new law will authorize about 137,000 low-income students to receive their state grants for the spring semester. The grants were endangered because the state -- facing a budget crisis -- cut $200 million from the program. But the Chicago Tribune reported that Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing the state to borrow money for the grants from other state funds.
Harding University announced Friday that it will consider the new state lottery in Arkansas to be off limits to students, the Associated Press reported. The new lottery supports college scholarships, and Harding officials earlier said that the university's ban on gambling did not apply to the lottery. David Burks, president of the university, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, said: "My intention [in the original policy] was to express in our policy the reality that it will be very difficult to enforce any prohibition against the lottery. In an attempt to avoid one appearance of hypocrisy, I made a decision that has itself come to be viewed as hypocritical." While several public universities in the state ban gambling on campus, their policies do not apply to student conduct off campus. Religious colleges in the state, however, typically have student codes of conduct that extend off campus. The AP said that Ouachita Baptist University considers the lottery to be included in its ban against gambling. John Brown University, a nondenominational Christian college, has a policy discouraging gambling by students, but officials told the AP that there would likely be little punishment for students who play the lottery.
Gallaudet University named T. Alan Hurwitz as its next president on Sunday. Hurwitz has spent most of his professional career at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where he started teaching engineering in 1970 and rose through the ranks to become president. NTID is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Hurwitz also serves as an RIT vice president. Not only does Hurwitz have extensive experience in deaf education, but he is deaf -- which is seen as important by many students, professors and alumni. Hurwitz will follow Robert Davila, who also preceded him at NTID and who was named to a lengthy interim presidency at Gallaudet in 2007. That appointment followed a presidential search that divided the campus and the deaf community, when Gallaudet's board in 2006 named Jane K. Fernandes, then the provost, to become president. But after months of protests, which at times effectively shut down the institution, the board withdrew its offer. Davila's leadership is generally credited with calming the campus, as well as addressing key issues, such as an accreditor's complaints that were resolved last year.
The latest trend in college football recruiting is in the air: helicopters. The New York Times reported that helicopters, which tend to cause an intended commition when they touch down near a high school football field on a Friday night, are now being used by at least eight major football programs to impress high school players: Louisiana State and Rutgers Universities, and the Universities of California at Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri.
While the admissions cycle for next fall's enrollments is just getting started, there are signs that public institutions may again be flooded with applications. The California State University System, which on October 1 opened applications for fall 2010 enrollment, reported that it received 111,140 applications through October 15, compared to 62,520 during the similar time period a year ago. All 23 campuses are accepting applications through November 30; at least 12 may stop accepting applications for some or all programs after that date.
Students at the University of Western Ontario are expressing anger and concern about the arrest of a student Wednesday, based on a YouTube video of the arrest that appears to show officers kneeing and punching the student, CBC News reported. University officials said that they were responding to complaints about the student, and were using appropriate measures to restrain an uncooperative student.
Weeks after the well-respected head of Colorado's Department of Higher Education quit in a spat with Gov. Bill Ritter, the governor on Thursday selected a cabinet member with little higher education experience to fill the job. Rico Munn, who heads the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies, will serve as the state's top higher education official, replacing David Skaggs, a former Congressman who was in the job for two and a half years before leaving in an apparent personnel dispute with the governor. Munn has been a member of the state's Board of Education, which oversees elementary and secondary education, but apart from some time as an adjunct law professor teaching trial practice at the University of Denver's law school, he has no other apparent higher education background.