The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Universities have issued a new handbook with detailed legal resources to help colleges recruit and retain faculty members and students in science fields. The handbook notes legal challenges to some forms of affirmative action, but suggests that many practices that promote diversity are on solid legal ground.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Faculty members at Bates Technical College, in Washington State, have voted no confidence in the college's leaders, The Seattle Times reported. The vote followed the issuing of layoff notices to 45 faculty members. Faculty leaders say that the layoff notices are inappropriate at a time of surging enrollments. Lyle Quasim, the president, defended the layoff notices, saying that he didn't expect that many people to lose their jobs, but that union contracts required him to give the notices now to have the option of eliminating jobs later.
The University of Texas System has called all students and faculty members in seven states in the north of Mexico to return, citing rising violence in the region. Many of the larger exchange programs with Mexico are in other parts of the country.
Kent State University is marking the 40th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 shootings with a new walking tour -- with audio narrated by civil rights leader Julian Bond -- of seven stops that relate to the tragedy. The university is also honoring the placement of the site on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities on Friday issued a statement denouncing a new Arizona law that authorizes police to seek identification papers from anyone who may be in the country illegally -- a measure that critics say will result in widespread ethnic profiling of Latinos, citizens and non-citizens alike. "This law will turn Arizona into a police state," said Antonio Flores, the president of HACU, in a statement. "It goes against our best traditions of welcoming and embracing people from all corners of the world who seek to contribute to our national prosperity and to achieve the American Dream." HACU had been considering holding an upcoming conference in Phoenix but will not consider the city as a result of the new law.
Just as the University of Missouri at Columbia took some ribbing for its Ken Lay Chair in Economics, so Harvard University may now get some grief. As Inside Higher Ed blogger University Diaries noted, Harvard has a Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History. David Armitage, who holds the chair, declined to comment on how it feels to have a chair named for the Goldman Sachs CEO.
The U.S. Education Department on Friday announced the formal (if still tentative) resuscitation of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the education secretary on accreditation issues and grants federal recognition to accreditors. Congress killed the last iteration of the panel in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, but planned for its re-creation in different form, with appointees by both branches of Congress as well as the Education Department. The panel now has not met since 2008, but the department's announcement Friday said that the committee would meet in mid-September -- if the House of Representatives makes its appointments to the panel, to which Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Senate have already made theirs.
San Francisco State University had issued a "clarification" of its handling of a December protest that essentially admits that the university broke a deal that an administrator made with students, but the university isn't honoring the deal, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The students made a deal with an assistant dean that they would face no more than $50 in fines if they accepted the idea of university sanctions. Subsequently, the university fined each student $744 -- and told them they would be forced to leave if they didn't pay. The students have been complaining about the apparent change of punishments, and on Friday the university issued a statement indicating that the assistant dean now remembered the promise he made about the $50 fines. The university still isn't reducing the fines to $50, but it is now allowing the students access to an appeals process.
Under fire for promoting sex tourism in Thailand, a California State University professor has taken down a controversial Web site partly devoted to the subject. Kenneth Ng, an associate professor of economics at Cal State Northridge, “reluctantly” took down the site Friday, Provost Harry Hellenbrand said in a statement. Ng said he was discontinuing the site because of the impact it was having on the campus’s reputation, not because he thought its content was inappropriate. Highlighting the complexity of the debate that unfolded over the site, Hellenbrand said “We are trying to balance two principles that, in this case, clashed. Our commitment to gender equity compels us to see the site as offensive; our commitment to expression urges us to tolerate words and pictures we find intolerant.” The site, BigBabyKenny.com, now features a few posts about the controversy that proved its undoing.
Lafayette College has agreed to pay $1 million to five women on whose behalf the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the college for sexual harassment, The Morning Call reported. The suit charged that the college did not prevent Barry Stauffer, who was at the time a police officer there, from groping female employees and making lewd comments to them describing sex acts he said he wanted to perform. The college fired him in 2008, the same year the suit was filed. Last year, the Morning Call said, he pleaded guilty to two counts of stalking involving two female college employees.