Albion College, in Michigan, has announced plans to eliminate the equivalent of 15 full-time faculty positions (about 10 percent of the faculty), in anticipation of enrollment declines in the years ahead, The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. The college says that some of the job cuts will come through early retirement, but others may not. Faculty leaders say that they are concerned about how positions -- especially of tenured or tenure-track faculty -- are going to be selected for elimination.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to reform a system in which legislators can give out college scholarships to anyone they want -- a system that has led to a series of cases of such scholarships going to those with ties to campaign donors, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Senate didn't go as far as backing the elimination of the scholarships, which some reform groups have urged. But the Senate would ban the award of scholarships to anyone whose family could be linked to a campaign contribution without the last five years. Further, family members of recipients would be banned for five years from making a contribution to the legislator who awarded the scholarship. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives.
More than 2,400 lecturers at the University of Montreal went on strike Wednesday, six months after their contract expired, CBC News reported. They want more money and smaller classes. University officials said that a strike was premature and said students would be hurt by a prolonged strike. The lecturers have been holding half-day and full-day walkouts, but the work action started Wednesday is open-ended.
The California Community Colleges -- the largest higher education system in the United States -- are projecting a 1 percent dip in enrollment this year. The shift reverses five years of enrollment growth, which brought the total number enrolled to nearly 3 million last year. In a press briefing, Jack Scott attributed the drop to deep budget cuts, which have in turn forced colleges to eliminate course sections. Statewide, he said, about 5 percent of course sections have been eliminated. “Our enrollment is not dropping due to a lack of demand,” he said. He noted that the community colleges statewide are actually educating about 200,000 more students than the state is providing funds for -- further stretching the capacity of the colleges.
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Hundreds of students walked out of a teach-in about tolerance Wednesday at the University of California at San Diego, saying that it was not a sufficient response to racial tensions on the campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. The teach-in was organized by the university in the wake of a party that mocked black people who live in poor areas, and a student television show that defended the party and used an anti-black slur. Black students said these incidents were reflections of broader issues they face on a campus where they make up only 1.6 percent of the student body.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst acknowledged that it allowed a student who confessed to raping a friend to stay on campus without significant punishment, according to an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, appearing in The Boston Globe. The university said that its handling of the incident was a mistake. The incident is described in a broader report suggesting that minimal punishments often follow reports of sexual assaults on campuses in New England.
Microsoft announced Wednesday it is extending its "identity federation" services to its college and university clients who use Live@edu, the company’s integrated e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, and online file storage suite. An “identity federation” is a group of institutions that allows students, researchers, and employees who need to access password-protected Web sites at multiple institutions to use a single log-in identification and password. With thousands of institutions worldwide already using Live@edu, the federation is already built, said Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, in an interview yesterday. Evans compared the service to the driver’s license system, where a person who acquired a driver’s license in Maryland can use it to drive or verify I.D. in each of the other 49 states, rather than having to acquire and carry around 50 different licenses. Identity federations are currently a hot topic in campus IT; Educause last year recognized several companies that had applied the concept to higher education with its Catalyst Award.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether Liberty University violated its tax-exempt status by throwing its weight behind a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. The request states that Liberty's leaders used Liberty Champion, "ostensibly a student publication but one that is actually subject to university control, to run a series of articles" attacking the Democratic candidate (who lost narrowly) and backing the Republican. Americans United also said that Liberty "twice arranged for a 'voter guide' published by the Virginia Family Foundation to appear in the Champion" and that the guide "distorted" the Democratic candidate's views. Further, the complaint states that on Election Day, a senior Liberty official "drove around campus with the College Republicans, rounding up voters." Liberty officials told The Lynchburg News & Advance that the claims were "bogus" and part of a campaign of harassment by the group against the university.
For the third time in three years, the University of Mary Washington is looking for a new president, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Judy Hample announced her resignation Friday, after one year in office. While Hample and the university board members were vague about her departure, it follows an investigation into money spent on bookcases in the president's home. Hample succeeded William J. Frawley, who was fired in 2007 after two arrests for driving under the influence.