An anonymous reviewer on Amazon's Web site known for her harsh attacks on some historians exempted the historian Orlando Figes, and it's now clear why. The Associated Press reported that the reviewer in question was Figes's wife, Stephanie Palmer. A lawyer for Figes has denied that he knew anything about the identity of the (until now) unknown author.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in a high-profile case involving the University of California's Hastings College of Law and a Christian student group, and the dispute appeared to leave the justices deeply divided, according to numerous news reports. USA Today, for instance, reported that the justices seemed divided on ideological grounds, with liberal judges appearing to side with the law school's desire to prevent discrimination by refusing to recognize a student group that keeps out gay students and non-Christians, and conservative judges backing the religious group. But the newspaper said several justices at times argued that the case had not been sufficiently developed in the lower courts.
Shimer College's board on Monday ended the brief and controversial tenure of President Thomas Lindsay. The trustees fired Lindsay, the Chicago Tribune reported, after months of conflict in which faculty members and some alumni accused him and a cadre of donors of a "hostile takeover" in which they sought to impose a libertarian ideology on the tiny Great Books institution in Chicago.
Laureate Education, the company that owns Walden University and more than 50 other for-profit colleges and universities worldwide, announced today that it has acquired a majority stake in National Hispanic University, a nonprofit institution with a campus in San Jose, Calif.
"We're a mission-driven university for Hispanics, like the historically black colleges are for African-Americans," said David P. López, NHU's president. "We're not going to have the leadership that this state and country need" without serving Hispanic students. But despite lofty goals, the university -- which offers certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees in education, business and information technology to a largely first-generation student population -- has struggled to expand.
"The fulfillment of their mission was being prohibited by lack of capitalization," said Paula Singer, president and CEO of Laureate Higher Education Group. Laureate will provide the capital and infrastructure to help NHU expand its mission, first in San Jose, but eventually with other brick-and-mortar campuses nationwide, and possibly online course offerings.
Citing budget cuts facing the entire university, the University of California at Davis announced Friday that it is eliminating four of its intercollegiate athletic teams: women's rowing, men's wrestling, men's swimming and diving, and men's indoor track and field. The teams' members are 73 women and 80 men. The cuts will save about $5 million over the next five years, and are also part of a plan to eliminate a deficit in the athletics department. The athletes involved and some team alumni are already criticizing the decision.
Trump University, the Donald Trump creation that offers courses for those who want to emulate the real estate guru, has been ordered by New York State officials to stop calling itself a university, The New York Daily News reported. "Use of the word 'university' by your corporation is misleading and violates New York Education Law and the Rules of the Board of Regents," wrote the deputy commissioner for higher education, Joseph Frey. Trump says the name of the school will change to Trump Education.
Career Education Corporation announced Friday that it has purchased the International University of Monaco, which offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in business related fields.
A federal study undertaken in the wake of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech examines the history and extent of violence directed at college campuses. "Campus Attacks: Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education," by the Education Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service, analyzes 272 violent incidents from 1909 through 2008, finding that 75 percent of them have happened since 1980 (roughly in proportion to enrollment increases in higher education, though with an apparent proportional uptick in the 1990s and 2000s). Attacks were nearly as likely to occur in administrative and academic buildings and on general campus grounds as in residence halls, and the overwhelming majority of the incidents were carried out by men.
The semi-annual gathering of the Association of American Universities is one of the least visible events you can imagine. The group of leading research universities, which tends to like to operate quietly, doesn't even promote the meeting on its own website. But the meeting that began Sunday in Washington is generating some unusual interest in unusual places -- like at ESPN. That's because the presidents of the Big Ten Conference are using the conference as a setting for their continuing discussions about adding new members, since all of the league's current 11 members belong to the AAU and its meeting is one of the relatively few times they all gather in one place, as the Chicago Tribune pointed out. ESPN confirmed that they will be joined there by the conference's commissioner, James E. Delany. The Big Ten's expansion plans could help to reshape the college sports landscape, especially if the league seeks to add Big East powers like Rutgers or Syracuse University or the University of Pittsburgh, Big 12 Conference institutions like the University of Missouri at Columbia -- or the University of Notre Dame.
Daniel LaVista was named Friday as the next chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. LaVista, a newcomer to California, is executive director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Earlier in his career, he led three different community colleges: the College of Lake County, the Community College of Baltimore County and McHenry County College.
In an interview Friday, LaVista said he was attracted to the job by the idea of being closer to the campuses and their students than he is in a statewide role.
He said that, in terms of his goals, "I want to have another look at what's happening with student success," especially at a time when national attention is focused on community colleges. He said that there are many outstanding programs already in place in the district, and that he wants to focus on applying best practices -- the use of learning communities, better advising systems and so forth -- so that they reach as many students as possible.
A major topic of his discussions with the board, LaVista said, was California's terrible budget outlook. LaVista said he believed that the district could achieve some additional savings through economies of scale of various campus operations, but that he would need to learn more in Los Angeles first. He said he believes that, however tight budgets are, it is important to have "innovation funds" so that some new ideas needing money can get off the ground.