Legislators are offering competing plans to oust the board of South Carolina State University, The State reported. South Carolina State is a financially troubled historically black college, and a House committee stunned supporters of the institution by proposing to shut it down for two years. Now, Senate leaders are backing a plan under which the university's board would be replaced until 2018 by a special five-member board appointed by the governor and the Legislature. House leaders, meanwhile, are backing a plan to give power over the university to the state's Budget and Control Board, which is made up of five elected officials led by the governor. South Carolina State's accreditor must approve any change in control, and has warned that the House plan would appear to violate accreditation rules against undue political control of colleges.
Submitted by Jake New on February 20, 2015 - 3:00am
The Wesleyan University chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is suing the university for "discrimination, misrepresentation and deceptive practices" over Wesleyan's order that its fraternities must become coeducational. Delta Kappa Epsilon is one of just two officially recognized on-campus fraternities at the university. The other, Psi Upsilon, is facing a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault, as is an unofficial off-campus fraternity called Beta Theta Pi.
In September, Wesleyan said it would give residential fraternities three years to become coeducational. The DKE lawsuit, filed by undergraduate and alumni members of the fraternity, alleges that the university "broke this promise" and fast-tracked its decision to deny DKE housing rights less than five months after its initial demand, and two days before the university's housing selection process began.
"As a result, the student members of DKE fraternity have inexplicably and without reasonable notice been stripped of their rights to on-campus housing and the fraternity denied the annual rental income it is entitled to as owner of the property," the chapter said in a statement.
The suit, which seeks an injunction to restore DKE's housing next year, states that the university's refusal to "permit male fraternity brothers to reside in single-sex housing flies in the face of the university's willingness to allow many other diverse groups to reside by choice with members of the same sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, culture, sexual orientation, sexual identification and the like."
The fraternity said it made "good faith efforts to achieve a workable solution" during the last five months, but the university said it disagrees. In a statement Thursday, Wesleyan said the lawsuit has no merit, and that the fraternity "expressly disavowed any commitment" to become coeducational.
"DKE’s annual program housing agreement was terminated for the next academic year only after the organization repeatedly failed to take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments toward residential coeducation before the date on which the housing selection process began," the university stated. "The DKE house has historically operated very differently than other special interest program houses at Wesleyan in many ways, but notably that it explicitly prohibits residence by females. This must change."
The University of California System has pushed back a planned 5 percent tuition increase from the summer quarter to the fall quarter, The Sacramento Bee reported. The move comes amid discussions between system officials, who say the increase is needed, and Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who wants the increase to be abandoned. University officials have indicated that with more state support they might not need the tuition increase. “We are doing this as a good-faith gesture, optimistic that the ongoing negotiations will bear fruit,” said Janet Napolitano, president of the university.
Submitted by Jake New on February 19, 2015 - 3:00am
The Big 12 Conference announced a new policy for diagnosing and managing concussions Wednesday, requiring member institutions to follow guidelines released in July by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and giving full autonomy to medical staff in deciding when an athlete can return to play.
“Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area,” Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12, said. “This policy goes beyond what was approved during the recent N.C.A.A. Autonomy Governance, and puts all associated protocols where they belong: in the hands of trained medical staff.”
The policy approved during the Power Five conferences' autonomy rule-making session last month was much contested, as it did not give medical staff the final say in concussion protocols and whether a player could return to the field.
"A budget cut of that magnitude would substantially harm our students and the people of Illinois by most severely impacting the university’s core education and research missions," Robert Easter, the president of the three-campus system, said in a statement. He promised to vigorously lobby against the cuts. While the governor is a Republican, Democrats have the majority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.
Illinois is one of the few states to see dramatic increases in higher ed spending in the last few years, but none of the money has gone into the classroom -- instead, the state has been ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a broken pension system.
Karen A. Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, has been named president & CEO of Achieving the Dream, a network of community colleges focused on "evidence-based institutional improvement." She replaces William E. Trueheart, the group's founding president.
Stout became president of Montgomery County in 2001. The institution has been a part of Achieving the Dream, which she said "helps build capacity one college and one community at a time.”
Tenure-line faculty members at the University of Illinois at Springfield have formed a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The new union has 137 members, who organized under the following platform: negotiate for “fair” wages and benefits, share governance with the administration and advocate for the rights of students without fear of professional retaliation.
Faculty members at Springfield’s sister institution, the University of Illinois at Chicago, also are organized with AFT (along with the American Association of University Professors) and signed their first union contract last year. A Springfield spokesman said the university respects faculty members’ right to decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union, and that the union “will have the power to act and speak for faculty in required group-level negotiations on wages, hours and conditions of work.” Some 71 eligible members signed cards in favor of the union, according to information from the university.
A Florida appeals court has upheld, 2-to-1, regulations imposed by the State Department of Education on faculty contracts at the state college system in Florida, CBS Miami reported. The rules have been opposed by faculty leaders in the state, who have argued that the board exceeded its authority in imposing them. Among the most controversial requirements are an extension from three to five years of the period of time before instructors are eligible for a continuing contract equivalent in some ways to tenure, and a requirement that contracts be awarded in part based on "student success." Faculty members say the latter provision will effectively punish those who teach at-risk students.