Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 4:31am

A report commissioned by the Texas Legislature has found grounds to impeach Wallace Hall, a member of the University of Texas Board of Regents, The Texas Tribune reported. Among the possible reasons cited for impeachment include alleged use of confidential information in inappropriate ways and "unreasonable and burdensome requests" for information by system officials. Hall, who did not respond to requests for comment but who has defended himself previously, is an ally of Governor Rick Perry, a Republican. Hall is among the regents who have been highly critical of Bill Powers, president of the University of Texas at Austin, despite the strong support Powers has from faculty members, students and alumni leaders.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 3:00am

Harvard University plans to sign the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment framework. The move does not force the university to take a specific action, like avoiding certain stocks or divesting from fossil fuel producers, which the university has declined to do, but obliges it to consider environmental, social and governance records to the extent they affect investments. A Harvard spokesman said the university will integrate “energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource scarcity, and social issues such as health and safety and employee productivity into investment analysis.” Harvard President Drew Faust also announced Monday the university will do more to confront climate change by supporting climate change research and continuing to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by the campus.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 3:00am

Steve Masiello, head men's basketball coach at Manhattan College, lost a bid to become head coach at the University of South Florida when that institution -- and then Manhattan -- found out he lacked the bachelor's degree he claimed to have from the University of Kentucky. Manhattan placed him on leave. But the college announced Monday that if Masiello completes his bachelor's degree, which officials said was doable, he could have his old job back.

In a statement, Masiello said: “I am extremely grateful and humbled by the opportunity to continue as the head men’s basketball coach at Manhattan College. I made a mistake that could have cost me my job at an institution I love. Details matter. Manhattan College has shown me a great deal of compassion and trust during this process, and I will do everything in my power to uphold that trust. I understand that I am very fortunate to have the chance to remain here at Manhattan.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hans Meltofte, senior scientist at Denmark's Aarhus University, describes the negative impact of climate change in the Arctic as "already visible" and details the serious ecological consequences that are resulting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 3:00am

Many community college leaders were angered -- and many walked out -- at Saturday's opening session of the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges when a comedian's performance offended them.

The performance, by an impersonator of President Clinton who was not introduced by name or identified in the program, featured jokes about Monica Lewinsky and digs at Hillary Clinton that many said were sexist and inappropriate at a time that she appears to be getting ready to run for president (and has consistently expressed support for community colleges and their mission).

Other attendees were most angered by a part of the skit in which the fake Bill Clinton discussed how political life changes people, showing images of George Washington at various stages in his life, ending with a photo he said was of Washington at his death, illustrating the dead president with a photo of Barbara Bush. Many presidents said that they weren't angry so much at the comic (who has apparently been doing his routine since jokes about the Clinton's use of White House bedrooms for donors reflected current events) but at the AACC itself.

Community college presidents, all seeking anonymity because they said they didn't want to offend association leaders, asked if the comic had been vetted, and why AACC leaders didn't say anything after a performance that visibly upset so many people. The fake Clinton followed a very well received speech by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. A frequent comment heard at the meeting was that after Collins inspired them, the comic's performance degraded them.

A spokeswoman for the AACC, asked if the association planned to apologize or say anything, said that no statement was planned.

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 4:19am

With a threat by the faculty union at Portland State University to strike on April 16 looming, the union and administration reached a deal on a new contract on Sunday, ending months of highly contentious negotiations. A press release from the union -- part of the American Association of University Professors -- said that deal provides raises for all professors and key advances for full-time, non-tenure-track professors. According to the AAUP, the contract will create a path for long-term contracts for 80 percent of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members, up from the present 45 percent. And these long-term contracts will be available after four years, not the current six years. The Oregonian characterized the raises in the deal as more "than the administration had said it could possibly afford, but substantially less than the union had sought." A statement from the university quoted President Wim Wiewel as calling the deal "fiscally responsible."

 

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 4:22am

Students, alumni and others are rallying behind Patricia Prechter, whom they say was ousted unfairly as head of the nursing program at Our Lady of the Holy Cross College, in Louisiana. The college says simply that she resigned. But The Times-Picayune reported on email messages between Prechter, who had also been serving as provost, and President Ronald Ambrosetti. In the emails, Prechter says that she was trying to resign as provost to focus more of her attention on the nursing program. She said she had long worked in the nursing program and took on the provost's job in 2011 at the request of the nuns who run the college. She said she could no longer do two full-time jobs and so was giving up the provost's position. But the president said that in leaving that job, she was resigning from all employment.

An online petition seeking her reinstatement at the nursing program says in part: "Dr. Prechter is also the heart and soul of the OLHCC community. She maintains an 'open door' policy that allows students to approach her with their needs as they arise. She is a student advocate for not only the students in the nursing department, but also for students throughout the OLHCC community."

 

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 3:00am

Applications were down about 20 percent at Cooper Union this year, as the institution prepared to start charging tuition to undergraduates under a controversial shift in its financial strategy. A statement from the university said that the drop was expected. Cooper Union admitted more students this year than in the past, assuming that its yield (the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll) will drop from 50 to 45 percent. Officials said that they believed the quality of the class was comparable to the quality in previous years.

 

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 3:00am

The North-American Interfraternity Conference will commission three panels to study and recommend solutions to the issues of alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual assault. The conference said Sunday that the panels will include "8-12 members from higher education, public policy, public health, research, law and other sectors." The panels are charged with suggesting policies, programs and standards "to help eradicate these detrimental behaviors" among fraternities.

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 3:00am

Two students linked to an Adderall distribution ring at Bowdoin College have left the institution, The Bangor Daily News reported. College officials confirmed their departure but declined to comment on reports that 10 other students were involved and were disciplined in ways that did not result in their leaving the college.

 

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