Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, July 11, 2014 - 4:23am

The University of Southern California and the Scripps Research Institute have abandoned talks about Scripps becoming part of USC, The Los Angeles Times reported. The end of the talks comes amid widespread opposition among Scripps researchers to the merger idea.



Friday, July 11, 2014 - 3:00am

AUSTIN, Tex. -- The chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents said he was displeased with how some factions protested the attempted ouster of UT Austin President Bill Powers, whose job was saved this week, arguably by some of those very protests.

Board Chairman Paul Foster, during a regents' meeting Thursday here, said it was inappropriate to direct insults at system Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa. The chancellor last week threatened to fire Powers if Powers did not resign by Thursday's meeting. Reports of the threat prompted faculty, alumni and students to rush to Powers's defense in recent days. The result was that Powers did tender his resignation Wednesday but as part of a deal that allows him to continue to lead the campus until next summer, long past the chancellor’s exit plan for the president.

Foster, a wealthy businessman, carefully but firmly reproached a host of factions: university leaders who would not respect the authority of the board; alumni and external groups who apparently sent “derogatory and threatening notes” aimed at the chancellor; and lawmakers who were trying to interfere with the system’s operations. “I sincerely hope we never revisit this unfortunate chapter in the history of our great state,”  Foster said.

Another board member, Alex Cranberg, agreed things had gotten quite heated over the past week. “I think it’s time for people to put their swords down and look to the future,” he said.

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 3:00am

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is releasing draft policy guidance on conditional admissions policies clarifying that international students must meet all admissions standards for a given program – including English language proficiency requirements – in order for the university to issue an I-20, the legal document that students need to apply for visas. The draft guidance would mean that universities can't issue I-20s for a degree program in cases in which admission is conditional on successful completion of an English language program, but they can issue two separate I-20s, one for the English language program and one -- once a student meets the English language requirements – for the degree program.

The draft guidance on conditional admission, to be posted on the Study in the States website today, is the first installment of a second draft (the first draft, on conditional admission and pathway programs, came out in May 2013). Because of the complexity of the issue SEVP has opted to release this draft in multiple installments.

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 3:00am

States are poised to provide 3.6 percent more in higher education operating support in 2015 than they did in 2014, an informal survey by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities shows. Of the 49 states that have passed a budget, 43 increased higher education funding for the new fiscal year, while only six cut funding.

The data were included in an eight-page fact sheet on budgetary and legislative issues facing the nation’s public universities. The policy update gives a quick but thorough scan of everything from state unemployment rates, policy trends — from guns on campus to “pay it forward” schemes — to the partisan composition of statehouses. 

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Josep Marco-Pallarés, a professor at the University of Barcelona, discusses the term he has coined, musical "anhedonia," for those who do not respond to music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:00am

Spelman College on Wednesday announced that Beverly Daniel Tatum, president since 2002, will retire in June. The announcement came the same day the college announced that it has completed a 10-year fund-raising campaign that brought in $157.8 million. The campaign has tripled the available scholarships for Spelman students and supported significant enhancements to faculty research and facilities as well. Tatum is well-known as a scholar of race relations among young people, and she has continued to write about and speak about that issue during her presidency. Given Spelman's many roles, Tatum has also been an advocate for historically black colleges, women's colleges and liberal arts colleges. In 2012, Tatum announced that Spelman would eliminate intercollegiate athletics and instead focus on promoting wellness and fitness among its students.

Here is a Q&A interview with Tatum on the numerous racial incidents and tensions on campuses nationwide in fall 2013. And here is an essay she wrote on racial incidents after the 2008 election of President Obama.



Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:00am

A key federal job-training bill has been updated for the first time in more than a decade. The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which governs more than $3 billion in programs, many of them aimed at community colleges. The bill, which the U.S. Senate passed last month, has drawn praise from higher education leaders. It should eliminate red tape and redundancy, they said, while also creating standardized performance metrics and emphasizing better links between K-12, higher education and employers. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which has been hailed as a rare bipartisan compromise.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 4:24am

The City of Salem, Mass. has killed a contract under which Gordon College has operated the city's historic Old Town Hall, Boston.com reported. The city cited the Christian college's "behavioral standards" for the college, which ban sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Gordon's policies have been in the news because its president signed a letter to President Obama asking that religious institutions be exempt from an executive order he is drafting to bar anti-gay discrimination by federal contractors. Gordon says that it is exercising its religious freedom. Salem officials say that they are committed to doing business only with entities that do not discriminate.


Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:00am

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has certified a union for nearly 500 non-tenure track faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The organizing drive was by the Campus Faculty Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.


Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 3:00am

An article by NPR explains a legal dispute between Duke University and heirs of John Wayne, sometimes known as "Duke" himself. The dispute concerns when the Duke name can be used, but the university wants it known that it is not trying to insult the memory of Wayne.

A spokesman for the university sent this email to Inside Higher Ed: "First, this is not a dispute about who owns the word 'Duke,' but rather a very specific situation that has been in negotiation for some time. Duke University does not object to use of 'The Duke' on liquor or other products that unmistakably connect that name to John Wayne through words or an image. This suit apparently seeks to establish the estate's ability to use the word even without an explicit connection to Mr. Wayne, which Duke University opposes. Note that we admire and respect John Wayne’s contributions to American culture, but we are also committed to protecting the integrity of Duke University’s trademarks. As Mr. Wayne himself once said, 'Words are what men live by … words they say and mean.’ "



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