Leaders of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church voted Wednesday to fire most of the board of Erskine College, the church's only college, according to unofficial notes taken by some at the meeting and an account in The Index-Journal, a South Carolina newspaper. Church and college officials did not respond to inquiries late Wednesday about the latest developments in a dispute over the future of the college, a well regarded liberal arts institution where many faculty members believe their academic freedom may be endangered by the church's increasing involvement in educational decisions. The move by church leaders follows a study they commissioned that found that existing board members were not doing enough to make sure church views were dominant at the college. Interim board members were selected with the idea of a reconstituted board, more closely tied to the church, following.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Northwest College, a community college in Wyoming, announced Tuesday that it will no longer recruit students based on their religion. The announcement follows controversy over the news that Paul B. Prestwich, the president, sent recruitment letters to about 1,000 Mormon high school students last month, encouraging them to apply. While Northwest is a public institution with no religious affiliation, Prestwich stressed that it was a Mormon-friendly college, writing: "As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am quite familiar with the advantages that Northwest College and Powell [Wyo.] have to offer LDS students in particular." Such recruiting is unusual for public college presidents. In a statement released Tuesday, Prestwich said that recruiting would no longer be based on religion and that donors were going to reimburse the college for the cost of the mailing to Mormon students.
The recession is leading more adults in their 40s and 50s to seek additional training and education at community colleges. And the recession is leading more students who are traditional college ages to enroll at community colleges. An article in the Chicago Tribune notes a result of these two trends: more courses at community colleges in which parents and children are both enrolled.
Even as thousands of students at the University of California's campuses prepare for massive rallies Thursday over state budget cuts, they continue to be roiled by racial incidents. The University of California at San Diego, which has seen a series of incidents, had a new one Monday night when authorities found a white pillowcase on a statue outside the library, making the pillowcase appear to be a Klan-style hood. Police are investigating the incident. Meanwhile, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, officials were denouncing a drawing of a noose on a bathroom door, in apparent reference to a recent noose incident at the San Diego conference.
Universities from around the world have pledged a total of $350,000 to the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which promotes the concept of colleges and universities making course materials available online and free. The popular effort was originally supported by foundation grants and some have worried about whether funds would be found to replace the expiring grants. Among the institutions pledging support are China Open Resources for Education, Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), Japan OpenCourseWare Consortium, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Korea OpenCourseWare Consortium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Open Universiteit (the Netherlands), Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), Tufts University, Universia.net (Spain), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), University of California at Irvine, University of Michigan, and University of the Western Cape (South Africa).
Four members of Kansas' Congressional delegation have written the U.S. interior secretary expressing their concerns about how Haskell Indian Nations University is being run and whether federal money is being misspent. The letter to Secretary Ken Salazar from Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback and Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Dennis Moore suggests that the Interior Department's decision to reassign the president of the tribal college in Lawrence, Kan., to other institutions had left "no clear line of authority" at Haskell Indian Nations. "The resulting lack of leadership has caused chaos and confusion to the detriment of HINU employees and the students, who are our primary concern," the lawmakers wrote.
The Atheist Agenda at the University of Texas at San Antonio has found a way to attract converts away from religion (or at least to publicize that cause). The San Antonio Express-News reported that the group has attracted considerable attention with a "smut for smut" offer in which students who turn in a Bible or another religious text can receive a free pornographic magazine. The atheists say that the "smut for smut" title is appropriate because the Bible includes passages about violence and torture.
Towson University fired an adjunct last week after he called himself, in class, a "nigger on a corporate plantation," The Baltimore Sun reported. Allen Zaruba, the adjunct, made the comment in a discussion of controversial works of art. Zaruba, who is white, told the Sun he realized that he shouldn't have made the remark and that he apologized for the comment, and didn't think it unsettled his class. But at least one student and parent complained and Zaruba was fired.
Students gathered at the University of Missouri at Columbia Monday night to discuss the ramifications of an incident in which cotton balls were scattered in front of the university's Black Culture Center, The Columbia Missourian reported. The cotton balls were seen by many as a reference to slavery and as "symbolic violence," according to participants at the meeting. Students at the meeting criticized the university for not doing enough to advance diversity. Some suggested that the Black Culture Center should be a stop on campus tours. Others suggested a diversity course requirement. And some criticized the university for not speaking out quickly enough or forcefully enough about last week's incident. A statement from Brady Deaton, the chancellor, called the scattering of cotton balls in front of the center a "disheartening and inexcusable act" and "despicable" and he pledged that university police were working to identify those responsible.
The State University of New York at Binghamton, still dealing with fallout from a basketball scandal, announced Monday night that its team will not participate in the America East tournament this year, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. A statement from Lois DeFleur, president, cited "controversy currently surrounding the program" and "possible distractions."