Massachusetts officials, including Gov. Deval Patrick, are criticizing the University of Massachusetts at Amherst over an invitation to Ray Luc Levasseur, the founder of a radical group called the United Freedom Front, who was jailed and convicted for his role in a series of bombing attacks, The Boston Globe reported. The invitation has been in flux in recent days amid much public criticism, but some faculty members independently invited him, and the university says it cannot stop them from doing so. Jack Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts, issued a statement in which he said: "The use of violence as a means of achieving political goals is antithetical to everything we stand for as a University. We also regret the pain and anguish his visit causes for victims and survivors. It is important to note that Levasseur has not received a formal invitation from the University of Massachusetts or from any of its officials. The decision to invite him was made by a small number of faculty members. With that decision having been made, we see no way of preventing a speaking appearance, based on the free speech and free assembly rights we enjoy in this country and based on well-established principles of academic freedom."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Women are more likely than men to be actively involved in their children's academic performance and to want to see their offspring go to college, but less likely to be involved in saving and investing to pay for college, a study released Tuesday by asset managers OppenheimerFunds suggests. Women with children who are approaching college-age are more likely to help their children research colleges, go on campus tours and apply for financial aid. But when it comes to saving for college, men take the clear lead. Of those surveyed who said their households had begun saving, 85 percent of men said they had primary responsibility for their kids' college funds, while just 65 percent of women said the same. Overall, though, college savings rates are quite low, with 43 percent of households with children reporting they've begun planning financially for college.
Negotiations on health care reform have pushed virtually every other issue onto the U.S. Senate's back burners this fall. Though the House of Representatives acted two months ago to pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) -- which, among other provisions, stops funding the bank-based Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program as of July 1, 2010 and makes the Department of Education the only lender of federal student loans -- the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has yet to take up the bill and any progress seems unlikely before health care comes to a floor vote. With the legislative timeline unclear, a panel of seven financial aid experts gathered Tuesday in Washington to consider the impact of the probable end of the FFEL program. Arguments shook down along predictable lines, with a representative of the federally subsidized lender Sallie Mae calling for the Senate to sustain a role for non-federal lenders (through an alternative proposal), and student and taxpayer advocates calling for the program's end. No word yet on when the HELP Committee will hold hearings on the bill. Also Tuesday, a coalition of about 50 student and other advocacy groups sent a letter urging senators to back the student loan legislation.
Canada's York University this week officially launched the first M.B.A. program in India run by a university from outside India. The York program will involve a year of classes at the S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, in Mumbai, and a year in Toronto at York's Schulich School of Business. York faculty members will teach a majority of courses in Mumbai and all classes in Toronto.
Lionel McIntyre, a professor in Columbia University's architecture college, was arrested Monday and charged with assault and harassment of Camille Davis, a theater production manager at Columbia's arts college, The New York Times reported. The alleged assault took place at a bar near campus and reportedly followed a heated discussion about race. The police report indicated that McIntyre punched Davis in the right eye. McIntyre did not respond to requests by the Times for comment.
California State University officials laid out plans Tuesday to reduce its enrollment by 40,000 next year in response to a $564 million decline in state funds. "You cannot see a 20 percent drop in revenue and serve the same number of students," Chancellor Charles B. Reed said in a news release. System officials said Cal State's 23 campuses had received 53 percent more applications for fall 2010 than they had by this point a year ago, and that they anticipated half the campuses to stop accepting applications by November 30. Reed also said he would present Cal State's trustees with what he called a "recover and reinvest" budget for 2010-11 that would seek to restore one-time cuts made in 2009-10, among other things.
The Iranian government is condemning the University of Oxford for creating a scholarship in memory of an Iranian woman who was killed in the post-election protests in the country, Bloomberg reported. A letter from Iran's embassy in Britain said that "the involvement of the university in Iran’s internal affairs, particularly in the country’s post-election events, of which the British media played a leading role, would lead to the loss of the university’s scientific prestige and academic goals."
The National Federation of the Blind will announce today that Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison are holding off on expansions of Kindle offerings for students until the reading device is more accessible to the visually impaired, the Associated Press announced. "These universities are saying, 'Our policy is nondiscrimination, so we're not going to adopt a technology we know for sure discriminates against blind students,' " said a spokesman for the federation. While devices like Kindle have the potential to be valuable tools for the blind, the federation has said that the set-up currently used by Kindle effectively blocks access. A spokesman for Amazon, which produces Kindle, told the wire service that the company was working on improvements. The federation in June sued Arizona State University, saying that its distribution of Kindles to students discriminated against blind people.
The American Council on Education has launched a new Web site, Today's GI Bill, to help veterans learn about the new education benefits available to them, the college selection process, and how to succeed in higher education. The site -- debuting just before Veterans Day -- was created with support from the Lumina Foundation for Education.
The Academic Senate at the University of California at Berkeley backed a non-binding resolution last week that calls for an end to administrative subsidies for athletics and more faculty oversight of the sports program, The Daily Californian reported. Professors voted 91 to 68 in favor of the resolution, inspired by revelations not only that the athletics department is currently getting millions of dollars a year in campus "loans," but that the university had forgiven $31 million in previous shifts of funds that were supposed to have been repaid. Campus administrators opposed the resolution, and the athletics director, Sandy Barbour, called it "terribly unfortunate," the Californian said.