Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

Following an intense lobbying drive by colleges and students in Illinois, a new law will authorize about 137,000 low-income students to receive their state grants for the spring semester. The grants were endangered because the state -- facing a budget crisis -- cut $200 million from the program. But the Chicago Tribune reported that Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing the state to borrow money for the grants from other state funds.

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

A Harvard University student group has rescinded an invitation to Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, to speak at a forum this weekend on immigration, The Boston Globe reported. Minuteman is a staunch opponent of immigration and sends patrols to the Mexican border to try to block people from coming to the United States. A previous appearance by Gilchrist at Harvard led to protests. The student organization organizing the forum on immigration, the Undergraduate Legal Committee, released a statement that said: “Mr. Gilchrist’s participation in the conference on the behalf of the Minutemen Project was not compatible with providing an environment for civil, educational, and productive discourse on immigration, and we cannot host him at this time.’’ Gilchrist denounced the revocation of the invitation. On his organization's Web site, he issued this statement: “[T]he minute they received threats from fellow students these pre-law students shied away from defending free speech. That future graduates of the most renowned university in the world are literally afraid to support the very cornerstone of the foundation of our nation, namely ‘free speech,’ ought to frighten anyone looking to America as the beacon of liberty, freedom, and justice for all."

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of California is shelving, but may return to, a controversial idea of differential tuition rates based on major, the Los Angeles Times reported. The plan would have imposed an additional $900 annual fee on those studying engineering or business. Many faculty members objected, saying that students would be discouraged from enrolling in those programs, even if assured that the extra funds will help the programs. The idea of differential tuition rates by major has been adopted by some public universities in recent years, but has faced similar criticism at those institutions.

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Wheeling Jesuit University has refused the request of a group that represents survivors of victims of sexual abuse by clergy to investigate one of its board members, the Associated Press reported. The Rev. Thomas Gleeson, the board member, was accused in a lawsuit in the 1990s of being among priests at the Jesuit School of Theology, in California, who sexually harassed a seminarian. The suit was settled out of court with no admission of wrongdoing. But the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests argues that new standards by the Roman Catholic Church require full and public investigations of such charges before the accused should be in positions of power. J. Davitt McAteer, Wheeling Jesuit's interim president, issued a statement indicating that the institution sees no need to investigate. "We at Wheeling Jesuit University, and I personally, am happy to have Father Gleeson serving as a valuable member of our Board of Trustees and Board of Directors.... We have no plans to suspend Father Gleeson, nor conduct any investigation."

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

A freshman at the University of New Hampshire has set off a debate there over the American flag. The student was ordered to remove one he was flying outside his dormitory window, Foster's Daily Democrat reported. The university says its ban is not on the flag, but on flying or hanging anything out of windows -- a rule needed for safety reasons. The student says there should be an exception for the flag.

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Students at the University of Western Ontario are expressing anger and concern about the arrest of a student Wednesday, based on a YouTube video of the arrest that appears to show officers kneeing and punching the student, CBC News reported. University officials said that they were responding to complaints about the student, and were using appropriate measures to restrain an uncooperative student.

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Weeks after the well-respected head of Colorado's Department of Higher Education quit in a spat with Gov. Bill Ritter, the governor on Thursday selected a cabinet member with little higher education experience to fill the job. Rico Munn, who heads the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies, will serve as the state's top higher education official, replacing David Skaggs, a former Congressman who was in the job for two and a half years before leaving in an apparent personnel dispute with the governor. Munn has been a member of the state's Board of Education, which oversees elementary and secondary education, but apart from some time as an adjunct law professor teaching trial practice at the University of Denver's law school, he has no other apparent higher education background.

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Russian authorities have arrested a historian who was conducting research on the Germans sent to Arctic gulag camps during World War II, The Guardian reported. Many historians view the arrest as the latest sign of a Russian clampdown on scholars who work on the Stalinist era.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Colorado has filed a legal request to recover $52,000 in legal costs from Ward Churchill, the controversial professor it fired for research misconduct and who sued unsuccessfully to get his job back, The Daily Camera reported. Colorado law allows prevailing parties in some court cases to seek legal fees from the losing party. Churchill is appealing a judge's ruling denying him his job back and his lawyer indicated that he disagreed with Colorado's legal bill as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 3:00am

Michael Pollan, an expert on sustainable food and a target of many in the traditional food industry, will not be giving a solo lecture at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, but will instead participate in a panel discussion -- along with a meat-science expert -- to keep a donor happy. The Los Angeles Times reported that the change of plans followed a threat by a donor to call off a $150,000 pledge for a new meat processing plant on the campus.

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