Susan Kelly has left the presidency of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, a Los Angeles institution known for its programs to educate minority and disadvantaged students in the health sciences. The Los Angeles Wave reported that Kelly was ousted amid growing criticism of the university's financial condition and the administration's response to budget problems. In February, the university announced plans to cut 10 percent of faculty and staff positions.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The mysterious donor providing multi-million dollar gifts to colleges and universities led by women has moved beyond the lower 48. The donor has provided the University of Alaska at Anchorage with $7 million. As with the other gifts that have colleges wondering who the donor is, the conditions attached are that the university not attempt to identify the benefactor, and that the funds be used for financial aid.
The mayor and some city council members in Providence are floating a proposal to tax students at private colleges $150 each per semester, The Providence Journal reported. The city is facing a large budget deficit. Like local lawmakers elsewhere who urge private colleges to make payments in lieu of property taxes from which they are exempt as nonprofit, Providence officials argue that private college students add to city costs. Students and private colleges leaders are opposing the idea, arguing that students actually add to the local economy. In addition, some note that there are private college students who already own property in the city or whose families do -- and who thus may be subject to double taxation under the plan.
This year's commencement season has already seen the University of Notre Dame and other Roman Catholic colleges questioned by church leaders over appearances by President Obama and others who are defenders of abortion rights. In a new twist, a Catholic colleges is being criticized by a bishop for having a speaker who is anti-abortion, but not sufficiently so. Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, who has already questioned whether local Catholic colleges are following doctrine, has attacked the choice of King's College to have U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania as its graduation speaker, the Associated Press reported. Casey opposes abortion and favors the reversal of the Supreme Court's decisions legalizing abortion. He is among the most prominent Democratic politicians with such views. But Bishop Martino said that King's would be commiting an "affront to all who value the sanctity of life" by having Casey as a speaker because the senator voted to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services. King's officials aren't commenting on the dispute. But a spokesman for Casey told the AP that the senator thought it would be irresponsible to leave the HHS position vacant. "He disagrees with her on abortion, but feels that she has the required expertise to help pass health care reform and provide health care to the uninsured , one of our country's top priorities," the spokesman said.
The University of Notre Dame's graduation saga continues: The university's graduates will hear from a recipient of one of the university's key honors, but no such honor will be awarded this year. Mary Ann Glendon, a professor at Harvard University's law school, was to have received the Laetare Medal, which goes to a Roman Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” But Glendon declined the honor due to the controversy over the university's invitation to President Obama to speak to graduates at commencement. On Thursday, Notre Dame announced that a federal appeals court judge -- John T. Noonan Jr., who received the medal in 1984, would deliver the talk traditionally made at graduation by the person receiving the medal. “In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist – especially in these unusual circumstances – it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “This commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation. Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year.”
Thursday was declared to be New Faculty Majority Day and featured events at many campuses, particularly in California, designed to draw attention to the poor working conditions faced by adjuncts. Also Thursday, the Modern Language Association released its Academic Workforce Advocacy Kit, which provides departments with summaries of relevant MLA reports, statistics and policies so that departments can work to educate campus leaders on issues related to the extensive use of adjuncts, frequently without adequate pay or benefits, and work to improve the way contingent faculty members are treated.
Wayne Watson, the retiring president of the City Colleges of Chicago, was named Thursday as the next president of Chicago State University, and the selection was greeted with boos and criticism, the Chicago Tribune reported. While Watson has had some successes in his current job, he clashed with professors, especially during a strike in 2005. Students and faculty members at Chicago State have been pushing for finalists who would bring fresh ideas to the university, whose last last president, Elnora Daniel, left amid criticism of her spending practices. Board members and Watson did not comment on the hostile reception that greeted Thursday's news.
Authorities in Japan are searching for Craig Arnold, an award-winning poet and assistant professor of English at the University of Wyoming. Arnold has been missing since Sunday, when he disappeared while visiting a volcano site on the island of Kuchinoerabu-jima. Arnold has been working on a book about volcanoes and maintaining a blog about his visits. Family members and friends have created a Facebook group, called Find Craig Arnold, with information about efforts to locate him.
The Government Accountability Office has released a report comparing national strategies to attract and fund international students across a number of countries. The report offers no recommendations, but aims to offer better insight, the authors write, "on how higher education is used to advance public diplomacy and development assistance goals."
An article in The Wall Street Journal reports on the best and worst approaches (from would-be students' perspective) to college rejection letters. Mount Allison University, in New Brunswick, wins praise for adding handwritten notes to all rejection letters, offering specific advice on areas of academic weakness, so students may understand the process. Even in this era in which many applicants learn their fates online, some still focus on snail mail and hope for the "big envelope." But Pennsylvania State University is criticized because it sends applicants it rejects from its main campus a big envelope -- with information about the regional campuses students can attend. As a result, some of those rejected applicants think they are receiving good news, and don't really appreciate the information about the other campuses. And Boston University is criticized for a letter it sends to rejected applicants who have family ties to the university. The letter says: "We give special attention to applicants whose families have a tradition of study at Boston University. We have extended this consideration in the evaluation of your application, but I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission." Rob Flaherty, who received that letter, told the Journal that he viewed BU as saying that "we made it even easier for you and you STILL couldn't get in."