Stanford Names New President

Stanford University announced Thursday that its next president will be Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist who is currently president of Rockefeller University. He will succeed John L. Hennessy, who announced in June 2015 that he would step down after 16 years as president. Previously, Tessier-Lavigne was a professor of biological sciences at Stanford and at the University of California at San Francisco. A biography may be found here.

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No Confidence at City Colleges Chicago, U of Akron

Faculty members have voted no confidence in the leaders of City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Akron.

At City Colleges of Chicago, faculty leaders say Chancellor Cheryl Hyman makes decisions about important issues such as tuition, registration regulations and various other matters without consulting with the faculty, The Chicago Tribune reported. Many political and business leaders in Chicago back the chancellor.

At Akron, the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in President Scott L. Scarborough, citing numerous decisions he has made that they argue have hurt the university's academic and financial base, reported. Scarborough spoke early in the meeting where the vote took place but left before the vote.

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Colleges air local-market Super Bowl commercials

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Some colleges try to get a share of their local market by joining the ad frenzy during the big game.

Earlham Cancels Class to Discuss Diversity Issues

Earlham College canceled class Thursday in order to hold a series of meetings with students, faculty and staff about a list of diversity concerns distributed by a group of students earlier this week.

Students at the Quaker college marched across campus on Monday and presented the "list of requirements concerning students of color" to the college's president, David Dawson. "The administration at Earlham College has been made aware that a group of students have concerns about issues related to diversity on campus," Brian Zimmerman, the college's director of media relations, said in a statement.

The students' requirements for the college include that Earlham create a multicultural center that provides counseling and is staffed by people of color, that it more easily allow for exemptions from "expensive and mandatory housing and meal plans," and that it offer diversity training for all students, faculty and staff. Among other requirements, the students also demanded that at least 30 percent of the college's faculty, staff and administrators and 20 percent of the Board of Trustees be people of color by 2020.

"As it currently stands, this campus is unsuitable for students of color to thrive," the students wrote. "Earlham is failing to sustain the diversity that this college promises and, because of this, we cannot in good faith endorse Earlham as a place suitable for students who value diversity, fairness and equity."

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College Readiness of Low-Income Students Stagnates

Roughly one in four of the 1.9 million high school students who graduated in 2015 and took the ACT are from low-income backgrounds, meaning their annual family incomes are less than $36,000. This group continues to lag in college readiness, according to the latest version of an annual report from the testing organization and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.

For example, half of the low-income students failed to meet any of the four ACT college readiness benchmarks, according to the report, compared to 31 percent of all students. And the proportion of students reaching each of the four benchmarks, which are in English, reading, mathematics and science, was roughly 40 percentage points lower for students from poorer families compared to those from families with annual incomes of $100,000 and up.

The readiness indicators of low-income students have remained largely unchanged for six consecutive years, ACT said, and have declined in some areas.

“Until these results improve, many students from poorer families are likely destined for a life of financial struggle and lapsed educational plans,” said Jim Larimore, ACT's chief officer for the advancement of underserved learners, in a written statement. “Beyond lamenting the well-known systemic challenges these students face, we are committed to acting on our knowledge, through research partnerships with organizations like NCCEP and our own initiatives, to expand access to rigorous course work and provide free resources to students in need.”

Education Dept. Adds Requirements for Accreditors

The U.S. Department of Education this week introduced several new requirements for accreditors, adding to the slightly beefed-up new rules it announced in November. The department has pushed more aggressive reforms to the accreditation process, including a request for the U.S. Congress to drop its ban on imposing specific standards on accreditors. But those ideas are unlikely to come to fruition during the Obama administration's final year.

This week the department said it would require accreditors to provide more information to the feds -- and to the public, when possible -- about sanctions the agencies slap on colleges, including the reason for those sanctions. The department also will require accreditors to separate their reporting of punitive actions against colleges from the other information they submit to the federal government, such as when colleges receive renewal of their accreditation status.

"Agencies need to do more than certify that institutions make quality offerings available; they must gauge the extent to which the institutions actually help more students achieve their goals," Ted Mitchell, the Under Secretary of Education, wrote in a blog post. "And because of our belief in the importance of equal opportunity to learn and achieve, that means strong outcomes for all students, not just some."

Other new requirements announced this week generally revolve around more coordination and basic communication. For example, accreditors will meet more regularly with the department and share information about "schools of concern."

Backlash Against Plan to Hire Shooting Coach

Simpson College, in Iowa, is facing criticism from some alumni for plans to hire a coach for a shooting team, The Des Moines Register reported. Students on the shooting team say that they are a student club like any other, and that they promote safe and responsible use of guns for sport. But critics have organized this petition, arguing that the college shouldn't be taking money from a pro-gun group to hire the coach. "We believe that the hiring of a full time shooting coach in these difficult financial times for Simpson, does in no way positively influence students to come to Simpson," the petition says. "There are many nationally awarded academic programs for prospective students to consider. We believe that sanctioned gun related activities have no place in our curriculum and call for the monies designated for them be applied to our college’s academic programs."


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Professor Resigns After Repeated Run-Ins With the Law

Ravi Shankar, the tenured professor of poetry at Central Connecticut State University who was infamously promoted while in jail in 2014, prompting criticism of his administration, has resigned. Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State College and University System, announced Wednesday that Shankar agreed to resign, effective last month. Shankar, whose repeated run-ins with the law attracted the attention of state lawmakers, agreed to terminate all appeals and claims against the system’s Board of Regents for Higher Education, in exchange for a settlement of $60,409. He’s also permanently prohibited from applying to or accepting any position within the state college and university system. Since 2011, Shankar’s been convicted of crimes including credit card fraud and driving under the influence. He was arrested again last year for shoplifting at Home Depot. Shortly after that arrest, in August, Shankar was suspended without pay, a university spokesman said. The settlement terms were informed in part by Shankar's annual salary of about $85,000.

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Three Maryland community colleges close health education facility amid rising costs

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Three Maryland community colleges plan to close a jointly run health education center because of enrollment changes.

Attempt at Compromise at Suffolk U

Suffolk University issued a statement Wednesday afternoon stating that Margaret McKenna, the president (at right), and Andrew Meyer, the board chair, met Wednesday morning and were trying to resolve differences. Meyer has been widely reported as having organized a board meeting for Friday to fire McKenna. Faculty, student and alumni groups have all been backing McKenna and calling on Meyer to leave. The precise nature of the disagreements has been unclear, but those on campus say McKenna has been doing an outstanding job and consulting with all campus groups about advancing the university. McKenna is Suffolk's fifth president in five years.

The full statement from the university says: “Suffolk University Board Chair Andrew Meyer and President Margaret McKenna met today and agreed to work toward a resolution of issues. Chairman Meyer and President McKenna strongly agree that the interests of Suffolk University, its students, faculty, staff and alumni, must come first. Both the chairman and the president believe Suffolk is such an important institution to Boston and this region and they realize they need to work to resolve issues and continue to strengthen the university. They will continue to meet and work toward a proposal that they hope to jointly present to the board on Friday. Given the importance of these efforts, Chairman Meyer and President McKenna will have no public comment at this time.”

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