Why Is Western Michigan Ousting a Popular Dean?

About 200 people came to a meeting Thursday night of the board of Western Michigan University to protest the decision not to keep Alex Enyedi as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, reported. University officials have not said why they did not renew Enyedi's contract, and have said that they don't comment on personnel matters. But supporters noted that he is beloved by the faculty and that he pushed hard (but without success) for salary adjustments for some women employed by the college whom he argued were not equitably paid.


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Two Former Athletes Sue UNC, NCAA Over Fake Courses

Two former athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are suing the university and the National Collegiate Athletic Association for failing to provide college athletes with the quality of education they were promised. The suit is seeking class action status and was filed on behalf of former women's basketball player Rashanda McCants and former football player Devon Ramsay.

The lawsuit is the second to be brought against UNC since a report in October revealed that some university employees knowingly steered about 1,500 athletes toward no-show courses that never met, were not taught by any faculty members, and where the only work required was a single research paper that received a high grade no matter the content. It's the first, however, to also include the NCAA (former football player Michael McAdoo sued UNC over the no-show classes in November).

The association reopened an investigation into UNC shortly before the October report was released, but the lawsuit alleges that the "NCAA sat idly by, permitting big-time college sports programs to operate as diploma mills that compromise educational opportunities and the future job prospects of student-athletes for the sake of wins and revenues."


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Colleges settle free speech lawsuits as FIRE promises more litigation

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Three colleges sued over charges that they were limiting free speech rights have settled by paying out funds and changing policies.

Controversial President Resigns at Brewton-Parker

Ergun Caner announced this week that he was stepping down as president of Brewton-Parker College, after only a year in office. During that year, Caner led a process of appealing a threat by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges to strip the college's accreditation. On an appeal, the accreditor in December preserved the accreditation, and removed the college's probation status. Caner cited that success in announcing his resignation, but said he was leaving because he could not recover from the July suicide of one of his sons, who was 15. "Brewton-Parker College cannot become a healthy, growing and stable college under the leadership of a man who is broken," he said. "And I am admitting to you that I am broken. I can’t get over his death, and I am not sure I want to. I do know that I cannot muster the fight needed to be the leader of our college. My family and my heart need healing, and you deserve better."

Brewton-Parker is a Baptist college in Georgia and Caner is a controversial figure in evangelical Christian circles. He has written and spoken out about growing up Muslim and converting to Christianity -- a story that many have found inspiring. But some religious bloggers have questioned some parts of his story, prompting considerable debate and scrutiny. When the college hired Caner in December 2013, the press release quoted a trustee as saying: “We didn’t consider Dr. Caner in spite of the attacks; we elected him because of them. He has endured relentless and pagan attacks like a warrior. We need a warrior as our next president.”


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U. of Oregon Releases 22,000 Pages of Private Records

The University of Oregon is investigating why it released 22,000 pages of information with confidential information about students and faculty members, The Oregonian reported. Two employees have been placed on leave as a result. The documents were given to a faculty member who requested them as public records. But the university did not go through the documents to remove confidential information that the institution was not required to release. The university has asked the faculty member not to release the documents further.


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Columbia College Adjuncts Drop Illinois Education Association

Members of Columbia College’s part-time faculty association, “P-Fac,” voted 232 to 50 to disaffiliate from the Illinois Education Association, they announced Wednesday. Just about half of eligible members participated in the vote. Diana Vallera, P-Fac president, said in a statement that the election was really about the ability of “part-time and contingent faculty to control their own destiny.” She said remaining part of the Illinois Education Association, which is affiliated with the National Education Association, was a “roadblock to effective advocacy for our members.”

P-Fac had raised concerns in recent months about staff members at Columbia College trying to secure teaching assignments that adjuncts wanted. The part-time faculty union worried about the Illinois Education Association’s ability to represent members’ concerns impartially, since the staff union, United Staff of Columbia College, also is affiliated with the Illinois Education Association. The Illinois Education Association said in a statement that it values “the right of [union] members to vote on important issues and to have the results of their vote respected.” But the association also said members had raised “significant” concerns about the fairness of the election process. It said it will conduct an investigation in coming weeks into those complaints. In the interim, the association said it will “continue to honor our commitments to P-fac members and provide updates as appropriate.”

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75 Percent of Campuses Employ Armed Officers

Violent crime on college campuses is decreasing, but the number of sworn and armed police officers on campuses continues to rise, according to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report was based on the 2011-12 Survey of Campus Law Enforcement Agencies, and included responses and Clery data from more than 900 U.S. four-year colleges and universities that enroll 2,500 or more students.

Nearly 70 percent of colleges and universities operated full law-enforcement agencies in 2012, and 94 percent of those officers are authorized to use a firearm. More than 90 percent of public institutions and 38 percent of private institutions in 2012 used sworn officers. In total, 75 percent of campuses said they used armed officers in 2012, compared to the 68 percent of colleges when the survey was last conducted in 2005. In 2012, campus agencies recorded 45 violent crimes per 100,000 students, a 27 percent decrease from 2005.

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Mandatory leaves for mental health conditions raise discrimination concerns

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Recent court cases, including a discrimination settlement at Quinnipiac University, suggest that colleges have to consider alternatives to forcing a student with a mental health condition to withdraw. 

Higher Ed and Guests at State of the Union

President Obama, like many presidents over the last 25 or so years, invites selected guests -- whose stories reflect administration priorities --  to sit with the First Lady during the State of the Union address. This year there are several higher education connections. Chelsey Davis (at right) is a student at Pellissippi State Community College at a time when President Obama is pushing a plan to make two years of community college free. Bill Elder is a medical student and a Stanford University graduate who was never expected to reach adulthood because of his cystic fibrosis. His story, the White House says, reflects the value of medical research and education. Also reflecting an emphasis on education is Anthony Mendez, the first in his family to graduate from high school and now a freshman at the University of Hartford. And Ana Zamora is a "DREAM" student, among those brought to the country at a young age but lacking permanent legal status, although they have gained some new rights under the Obama administration.

Members of Congress also get guest seats. New York Magazine reported that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, is bringing Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who protested campus policies on sexual assault by dragging a mattress with her for an entire semester. Sulkowicz says that the mattress symbolizes the weight she carries because of the university's failure to punish the student she says raped her. (He denies that.)




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A Basketball Team's Expensive Trip to the Bahamas

The University of Kentucky spent nearly $800,000 on a trip to the Bahamas for the basketball team to play exhibition games, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While other colleges spend big on exhibition games in the Bahamas, the Kentucky travels cost much more than similar trips by other universities' teams that the newspaper found cost $154,000 or $38,000. Why were the Kentucky costs so high? The university didn't only pay for its own travel, but for the travel and expenses of the three teams it played: national teams of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, a French professional team. The Courier-Journal reported that this practice of paying for opposing teams' travel was a new one for American college basketball.

There were other costs as well. Coach John Calipari, for example, had a $1,550-per night hotel suite.



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