Students and artists at Texas Southern University are angry that President John Rudley had workers paint over two murals in the administration building, The Houston Chronicle reported. The murals were a senior project of Harvey Johnson, who went on to teach at the university for 34 years until he retired in 2007, and are part of a tradition in which art students were encouraged to paint murals. A university spokeswoman initially said that painters covered the murals by mistake, but Rudley acknowledged that it was his choice, telling the newspaper that "when I bring dignitaries to campus, I can't have them seeing that kind of thing. All art isn't good art." The murals were painted in 1971 and reflected the Black Power movement of the time, including nonstandard English, as in the title of the work Dere's a "Han Writing on de Wall." An editorial in the newspaper denounced the decision to paint over the murals, saying: "[P]reparing for the wider world shouldn't require erasing one's African-American identity. And African-American art and history have something to say to all Americans, not just black ones. Of all places, it seems to us, a historically black university ought to celebrate the complexities of that culture. By erasing Johnson's mural, TSU erased an important part of its own heritage - and its students' heritage, and its city's. Maybe the paintings made the president and the dignitaries who visited him uncomfortable. But art, like education, isn't about making people comfortable. Sometimes we all need to read the handwriting on the wall."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The board and interim president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science resigned Friday, as part of an effort to attract new financial support and to find a path to stability for the financially challenged institution, the Los Angeles Times reported. The university, focused on training health professionals in the low-income, predominantly minority parts of Los Angeles, has been in danger of having assets seized because it cannot make required loan payments. The resignations led to the appointment of new board members coming from a cross-section of academic and philanthropic organizations in Los Angeles.
Officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are discussing whether they should add railings for all bunk beds, following the August death of a woman who was visiting her daughter, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The university has provided the railings on request, and has seen a spike since the woman's death. The beds are typically designed to allow for elevation but not to require it. Many students like to elevate their beds to allow for more usable space in a dormitory room.
A dozen times in recent months, police in Oxford, Miss. have received reports of a thief breaking into apartments of University of Mississippi female students and stealing their underwear, The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported. While the panty raids of the 50s were frequently orchestrated with the participation of all involved, these thefts are being taken seriously. Authorities are encouraging Ole Miss women to mix up their routines and not follow the same routes, since all of the break-ins have been when the women were not home, suggesting that the thief may be watching the women or be aware of their activities.
Bob Smith, provost of Texas Tech University, heard his counterpart at the University of Phoenix say this summer that many Phoenix faculty members are faculty members at leading public universities. So, as The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported, Smith asked Phoenix and other for-profits for faculty rosters. At Texas Tech, faculty members teaching part-time elsewhere would need his office's permission -- and he has never received such a request. So he wants to check whether any of his faculty are teaching in the for-profit sector, without permission. So far, he hasn't received any for-profit rosters.
Harvard University's endowment, the world's largest, is going up again, having earned an 11 percent return in the fiscal year ending on June 30. That brings its value to $27.4 billion, and the university's announcement hailed a "strong positive return." Others were less impressed. The Wall Street Journal said that the endowment deserved a "middling grade," noting that the endowment did not match similar large funds. Harvard still has a ways to go to restore its endowment value before the fall 2008 economic crisis hit: $36.9 billion.
The administrator nominated to be interim president of the State University of New York at Buffalo has begged off from the job, at least temporarily, in the wake of criticism from faculty leaders and others about his qualifications, The Buffalo News reported. The council that oversees the Buffalo campus appeared to get ahead of itself last week when it said it had chosen Scott D. Nostaja to replace John Simpson, who said he would retire in January. (SUNY's chancellor and trustees, not UB officials, have the authority to choose an interim president.) In addition to concerns about the process, faculty leaders questioned whether Nostaja -- a vice president, and a former Hollywood executive and management consultant -- had the credentials to be president, even on an interim basis. Acknowledging those concerns, Nostaja said in an e-mail to the campus that "I recognize that some members of the university would like to have given their views as this recommendation was being considered." He said he had asked Buffalo's trustees not to put his name forward to SUNY's regents right now.
Fifty groups have pledged to work on increasing Latino college completion rates, and to track annually their efforts at doing so. The pledges were coordinated by Excelencia in Education, and the organizations may be found here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday temporarily allowed federal funding to continue for research on embryonic stem cells, blocking a lower court's ruling last month that declared such studies to be illegal, the Los Angeles Times reported. The appeals court's ruling is only the latest step in what is likely to be a long legal battle, but it cheered many biomedical researchers, who strongly opposed the lower court's ruling.
Indiana officials are reconsidering the way state financial aid programs are structured in ways that appear to favor traditionally aged students, The Indianapolis Star reported. Students who are 25 and older now make up a majority of those enrolled in the state, but the lion's share of aid goes to those who enroll full time, straight from high school.