Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 7, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, Seth Frey of the University of California, Davis, looks into how winning poker players use two sources of information where most only see one. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


March 6, 2019

Robert L. Caret (at left), chancellor of the University System of Maryland, in 2017 sent an email to three university presidents (not in the Maryland system) recommending that they consider arrangements with Pandora Jewelry, which is known for its charms for bracelets, the Associated Press reported. The email, which Caret signed as chancellor, said that he was writing "on behalf" of an alumnus, the CEO of Pandora. The email said that the university leaders might want their alumni relations or other officials to work with Pandora on having charms with university symbols made. He said that the jewelry was "particularly popular among the college age and older." At right is a Pandora charm for Maryland.

Teresa Sullivan, then president of the University of Virginia, was so surprised to receive the email that she wondered if Caret's email account had been hacked, and she emailed his chief of staff. The chief of staff then became alarmed by the ethics implications of Caret's action and filed a grievance against Caret when he was bothered by her repeatedly raising the issue and criticized her for it.

The AP reported that, in a recent interview, Caret said he shouldn't have sent the email but that it wasn't a big deal. "It's something I shouldn't have done. We all stumble," he said.

March 6, 2019

Several dozen students at a basketball game at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville sat together, dressed in black, and did not stand for the National Anthem, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The students were protesting the university's refusal to expel students who wore blackface in a photo that spread on social media. During the game, the students chanted, "No justice, no peace, no racist UT" and "Which side are you on, UT? Which side are you on?" University officials have said that, as a public institution covered by the First Amendment, they can't expel the students who posed in blackface.


March 6, 2019

The College of New Rochelle, which said last month that it would likely close by the end of the summer, will officially cease operations at the end of the summer semester and has entered into an agreement that will allow students to complete their education at nearby Mercy College.

The two institutions detailed the agreement in a joint announcement released Tuesday.

An exact closure date "will be shared when that determination is made," New Rochelle president William Latimer and Board of Trustees interim chair Marlene Tutera said in a statement.

"While this is not the outcome we had hoped for regarding the future of CNR, we can take solace in the fact that this is not a reflection of the quality academics that CNR offers nor the impact this college has had on so many communities and for so many individuals for the past 115 years," they said.

The agreement will allow New Rochelle students to automatically transfer to Mercy for the fall 2019 semester. Mercy will also apply to New York State to offer New Rochelle programs that it doesn’t currently offer, including a liberal arts bachelor’s degree and nursing programs.

Mercy said it is hoping to hire several New Rochelle faculty and staff and is exploring the possibility of leasing portions of New Rochelle’s Westchester County and New York City campuses.

In a Feb. 22 memo to the campus, Latimer and Tutera said the college “continues to experience significant cash flow challenges” and that “it appears unlikely that the college will be able to continue operations beyond the end of the summer 2019 semester.”

The college, which enrolls nearly 3,000 students, has struggled to recover from several financial crises in recent years. In October 2016, officials said New Rochelle had “significant unmet financial obligations” that required major budget cuts. Weeks later, the college announced that it had not made payroll taxes for two years and owed about $20 million.

March 6, 2019

A Rider University business school dean who describes herself as a "very committed Christian" is stepping down after the university blocked a Chick-Fil-A restaurant from opening on campus.

Cynthia Newman, dean of Rider's College of Business Administration, said the university's decision clashed with her beliefs, NJ.com reported.

In a Feb. 14 letter to faculty, Newman said she would resign from her role as dean in September but will continue teaching.

The fast-food chain has generated controversy due to its president's stance against same-sex marriage, which has earned it boycotts and demonstrations as well as same-sex "kiss days" at locations nationwide.

After Rider distributed surveys asking students which fast-food providers they wanted on campus, Chick-Fil-A emerged as a top contender. But a second survey left the chain out -- Rider later explained that it had been removed based on the company’s record of being "widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community."

In November, Rider said the chain's corporate values "have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider."

University spokeswoman Kristine Brown said the decision isn't an attack on Christian members of the community. "Rather, our intention was to foster a sense of respect and belonging of all members of the campus community, including those who identify as LGBTQ+," she said.

March 6, 2019

Nearly 90 percent of adjunct faculty members say they are saving, most commonly for retirement and building a financial emergency fund, according to a new report from TIAA Institute. TIAA’s 2018 Adjunct Faculty Survey also found that one-third of adjunct professors have contributed to a retirement plan offered by one of their institutions. Adjuncts are paid an average of $3,000 per course, and nearly 60 percent receive less than that, the report says. Some 40 percent report they are working elsewhere in addition to their current college and university. Among adjuncts who did not save for retirement in the past year, 74 percent either had no plan available or were unsure whether they did, TIAA's report says.

Still, one-half of adjuncts report they are satisfied with their current financial situation over all. Fifty-six percent report that it is “easy to make ends meet,” while 16 percent find it difficult. Adjuncts’ financial satisfaction is likely linked to their household income, according to TIAA. Sixty percent of adjuncts are in households with incomes of $50,000 or more, and 30 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more. Three-quarters of adjunct households carry debt, such as credit cards and mortgages. Student loan debt was common among younger adjuncts. Some 48 percent of those under 40 reported having student loan debt, compared to just 12 percent of those 55 and older.

March 6, 2019

Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, called for Congress to scrutinize the decision making of regional accreditors, whom he accused of dealing unfairly with struggling historically black colleges.

"Just as black students in schools across this nation have been targets of and subject to punishments harsher than their nonblack peers, I would argue that historically black colleges and universities are receiving disparate and inequitable punishments and sanctions from regional accreditors," Lomax said.

The demand was part of UNCF’s legislative agenda that Lomax outlined in a “State of the HBCU” address, where multiple lawmakers were among the audience. He also called for Congress to double the size of the maximum Pell Grant and to invest $1 billion in an infrastructure program for historically black institutions to address deferred maintenance and support new construction.

March 6, 2019

Shawnee Community College president Peggy Bradford is stepping down from her position in June, according to The Southern Illinoisan.

Bradford has one year left on a three-year contract but announced Monday she would leave early. Bradford has frequently clashed with the college's faculty union, which has twice taken a no-confidence vote on her leadership.

March 6, 2019

Last year, the Nobel Prize in Literature was not awarded amid a scandal over alleged conflicts of interest, sexual harassment and sexual assault involving a man (since convicted of rape) married to a member of the Swedish Academy. The Nobel Foundation's board said Tuesday that the 2018 and 2019 prizes would both be announced this fall. Further, the foundation said that new procedures were in place, including requirements that the academy "no longer includes any members who are subject to conflict of interest or criminal investigations."

March 6, 2019

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, best known for its "genius" awards but also a funder of other programs involving academics, on Tuesday named its next president. He is John Palfrey (at right), head of school at Phillips Academy Andover.


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