Syracuse Chancellor Apologizes on Communication

Kent Syverud, chancellor of Syracuse University, has issued a statement in which he apologizes for the way some recent decisions were communicated to the campus. The statement comes as a student sit-in (at right) -- focused on a range of issues, with an emphasis on concerns the university is backing off commitment to minority students -- is in its second week. In his statement, Syverud said that he had learned from the protest movement, but he suggested that it was time for it to end the sit-in, and for protesting students to work instead with the student government to voice concerns. "To make significant change, though, we need to move forward," he said. "Tonight we responded with our final written response and have informed THE General Body [the name of the protest movement]  that our time must now be spent addressing the needs of the entire student body."

THE General Body announced that it would respond in full today. But its initial response was critical of the chancellor's statement. "After two days of not communicating with us, Chancellor Syverud’s e-mail of a 'final offer', copied to the entire university community, is counterproductive to the negotiation process. The administration has made real promises, but too many responses are vague and direct us to preexisting processes that are not transparent and disinclude student voices. THE General Body is unsatisfied with this offer and continues to demand the administration recognize our outcry against the rapid and undemocratic revision of university goals and missions. We reiterate our insistence that undermining the demographics of our student body, the mental and sexual health of our students, the accessibility and safety of our campus, and the relationship of Syracuse with its community are not appropriate or democratic ways to balance our budget."


Bridging the Middle-Skills Gap

Business leaders must lead efforts to close the skills gap, according to a new report from Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies and Harvard Business School. The report focuses on the demand for "middle-skills" jobs, which require more education and training than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year degree. It argues that businesses "must champion an employer-led skills-development system, in which they bring the type of rigor and discipline to sourcing middle-skills talent that they historically applied to their materials supply chains." Educators and policy makers also have roles to play in fixing the problem, which the report said is urgent.

MIT's Football Wins Catching up to Its Nobel Prizes

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has now won as many football games in the last 70 years as it has Nobel Prizes, thanks to an undefeated 8-0 season. Between 1944 and 2013, people with MIT affiliations won 80 Nobel Prizes, the Wall Street Journal reports. In that same time span, the university won just 80 football games. The Engineers, a Division III team, won its first-ever New England Football Conference championship on Saturday and have earned a spot in the playoffs.

"For more than a century, the geniuses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have focused on fairly trivial matters, such as coming up with the scientific advances that change the world," the Journal's Ben Cohen wrote. "That kept them busy for a while. But now they are finally paying attention to the stuff we really care about — like inventing a respectable football team."

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Laptop Heist at UCLA

A thief took 55 Apple laptops from the library at the University of California at Los Angeles this weekend, The Los Angeles Times reported. The thief smashed a window at 2:26 a.m. Saturday and appeared to know where he was going to find numerous laptops. The man filmed taking the laptops was wearing UCLA sweatpants. UCLA released the photo below, showing the suspect rolling out a suitcase of laptops.

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Dismissed Faculty Members Return to General Theological Seminary

Manhattan’s General Theological Seminary welcomed back on a provisional basis Monday seven of the eight faculty members it dismissed earlier this year, the The New York Times reported. The seminary’s Board of Trustees said the faculty members offered their de-facto resignation in September when they went on strike over what they called the poor leadership of the president and dean, the Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle. But the faculty members said they were illegally fired. The move was heavily criticized by alumni, members of the church and others in higher education, and now the seminary says it will work with the faculty members – who have been stripped of their tenure protections and have only been assured jobs until the end of the year – to address their concerns during a mediation process, through June. The one non-returning faculty member accepted a severance package, according to The Times

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How to Get Socially Conscious Students to Get Flu Shots

Research has shown that many college students, even those aware of the health benefits of flu shots, don't ever get them. Further, studies have shown that a financial incentive (say $10) gets many students to actually get the shot.

At Hampshire College, where students are proud of caring about the world, administrators are trying a different approach than a direct payment. For every student who gets a flu shot this week, three administrators will -- from their own pockets -- give $5 to Doctors Without Borders to support the fight against Ebola in West Africa. The funds are coming from Jonathan Lash, the president, Bryon McCrae, the dean of students, and Sara Aierstuck, the health and counseling services director.


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New presidents or provosts: Alamo Fairfield Lewis-Clark Menlo Merced Santiago Tidewater UM-Rochester

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  • Lynn Babington, dean of the School of Nursing at Fairfield University, has been promoted to senior vice president for academic affairs there.

Kentucky State Orders Cuts, Suspends Tenure Promotions

Kentucky State University, facing severe budget constraints due to falling enrollment, has announced a new round of cuts, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Administrative positions are being eliminated and 32 adjunct positions have been eliminated until full-time faculty members all have full course loads. In addition, the university has suspended the awarding of tenure to faculty members. Those on the tenure track but not tenured will undergo reviews to determine whether they can stay. Enrollment at the historically black college has dropped from 2,533 last fall to 1,869 this fall.

Peter A. Smith, a professor of English and president of the Faculty Senate, said this in an email to Inside Higher Ed: "All of the faculty I have spoken with applaud the president's plan to make the university's administrative structure more efficient and to reduce spending that is not critical to our educational mission. Much of what was in his plan was what faculty had been asking the previous administration to do for years. As for the plan to 'review' the non-tenured faculty to decide whether or not to re-employ them, we do have some questions and concerns that we hope will be addressed in the very near future. We will begin discussing these concerns with the administration in anticipation that we can all agree upon on a process that will be fair and focused on our mutual goal of providing our students with the best education possible."

Smith added that the suspension of tenure was not by itself a huge concern, provided that the suspension is for a brief period of time. But he said that faculty leaders had no knowledge that this was going to happen. "The major concern that I heard about that is that it came, quite literally, just as the University Tenure and Promotion Committee was concluding its work and issuing its recommendations," Smith said. "It had never been mentioned to faculty before Friday, so the timing is quite inopportune."


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Former Football Player Sues UNC Over Fake Courses

Michael McAdoo, formerly a football player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has sued the institution, saying that by guiding him (and other athletes) to fake courses, it deprived him of an education, the Associated Press reported. The suit seeks to become a class action on behalf of other athletes who were steered into fake courses. The lawsuit says that coaches and others "enticed these football student-athletes to sign the agreements with promises of a legitimate UNC education.... Instead, UNC systematically funneled its football student-athletes into a 'shadow curriculum' of bogus courses which never met and which were designed for the sole purpose of providing enrollees high grades."


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Ex-Head of Foundation Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

The former executive director of the foundation that raises money for the Los Angeles Trade Technical College pleaded guilty Friday to felony embezzlement, The Los Angeles Times reported. Jiah "Rhea" Chung, 44, admitted that she took $50,500. She was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 60 days of work for CalTrans. But her lawyer questioned the fairness of the judicial findings. He questioned why some foundation officials denied that they authorized the payments. "The political climate is such that it’s so hard for anybody accused of any public integrity crime to get a fair hearing," the lawyer said. "You’re looking at a woman who really physically can’t fathom being able to withstand even a single day in prison."


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