The University of Miami announced Monday that its next president will be Julio Frenk, the dean of Harvard University's public health school and the former minister of health in Mexico. He will succeed Donna Shalala, who has been president since 2001. In an interview Sunday, Frenk said he plans to push for increased ties between the university and its counterparts in the Caribbean and Latin America. "Latin America and the Caribbean have been relatively neglected in the global dialogue" in higher education, he said. Miami, already with strong ties in the region, is in a position to do much more, he said.
Miami has had both considerable success and scandal in big-time athletics over the years. Asked about his approach to athletics, Frenk said he was "committed to the idea that athletics is an integral part of the higher education experience," but he declined to elaborate, saying that he first needed to "immerse" himself in the issues.
Loren J. Blanchard, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana, has been appointed executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the California State University System.
Last week, the University of South Carolina suspended a student for writing the n-word on a whiteboard in a campus study room. The university president explained that the student had violated the Carolinian Creed, which bars “racist and uncivil rhetoric.”
But in the United States, there’s another creed that’s supposed to take precedence over all the others: the Constitution. And the university -- not the offending student -- violated it.
So did the University of Oklahoma, when it expelled two students last month for leading a racist chant on a fraternity bus trip. The chant referred to the lynching of African-Americans, one of the ugliest chapters in our nation's history, and the students deserved all of the condemnation they received.
But our university leaders deserve censure, too, for their craven disregard of the First Amendment. Everyone has the right to speak their mind, no matter how much it offends yours. When Americans work themselves into a fine moral lather, however, freedom of speech is always the first thing to go.
Campus speech codes date to the mid-1980s, in the aftermath of several well-publicized racist episodes. Following the last game of the 1986 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets, drunken brawls erupted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst between white Red Sox fans and black Mets supporters. At one point, a mob of 3,000 whites chased and beat black students.
After that, media outlets ran a spate of stories about racist incidents on campus, including a mock slave auction at a fraternity. It was never clear whether racial prejudice and harassment had actually increased during these years. But it made for good copy, with headlines like “Bigots in the Ivory Tower” and “Reagan’s Children: Racial Hatred on Campus.”
As the last item suggests, liberals were quick to blame the alleged rise in racism on Ronald Reagan and the so-called New Right. As conservative politicians stoked the fires of prejudice, the argument went, our campuses should remain bastions of racial equality and justice.
Enter speech codes. By 1992, fully one-third of colleges and universities had enacted some kind of speech regulation. The most famous one -- which became a model for many other measures -- was adopted by the University of Michigan, which barred “verbal or physical behavior… that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, handicap or Vietnam-era veteran status.”
But as a U.S. district judge ruled in 1989, when he struck down the Michigan speech code, the words “stigmatizes” and “victimizes” were notoriously slippery. “What one individual might find victimizing or stigmatizing, another individual might not,” the judge wrote.
A few years later, the University of Pennsylvania charged a student with violating its speech code after he pleaded with some partying African-American sorority members to keep down the noise. “Shut up, you water buffalo,” the student shouted. “If you want a party, there’s a zoo a mile from here.” In his native Israel, the student later explained, the term "water buffalo" referred to a rowdy person; but the black students interpreted it -- and his zoo remark -- as racial insults.
Penn eventually dropped the charges against the student and -- two years later -- it eliminated its speech code. But it was one of the exceptions. Most college retained their speech codes or added new ones, even in the face of judicial decisions barring such measures. Between 1989 and 1995, six courts -- including the U.S. Supreme Court -- examined university or municipal speech codes, and in every case the codes were deemed unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s 1992 decision struck down a St. Paul ordinance prohibiting hate speech. Inevitably, the court ruled, city officials would be called upon to decide what was truly hateful and what wasn’t. And that’s not a call that any of us should want our government making for us.
But that’s precisely what our campus speech codes require universities to do. In a recent survey of over 1,000 Jewish students on 55 American campuses, more than half reported experiencing or witnessing an anti-Semitic act or comment within the prior six months. Earlier this year, a Jewish student applying for a campus judicial board position at the University of California at Los Angeles was asked how -- as a Jew -- she could maintain an “unbiased view.” And at another U.C. campus, in Davis, Jewish students opposing an anti-Israel boycott measure were heckled with cries of “Allahu Akbar.”
Both episodes made national news, but they didn’t lead to any official punishment for the students who made the offending comments. Why should racist comments elicit penalties while anti-Semitic ones don't? And why should we allow our universities to discriminate between them when the courts have ruled that both types of speech are protected? We need to educate our students against bigotry without turning our backs on the Constitution. But first, we'll need university leaders with the courage to do it.
On the new edition of "This Week,"Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, Harper College's Ken Ender and Patricia Melton of New Haven Promise join Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik and moderator Casey Green to discuss the nuances of the movement to provide free community college. In our other segment, Judith Eaton of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and General Assembly's Jake Schwartz explore the prospect of extending accreditation (and potentially federal aid) to noninstitutional providers of education and training. An archive of past podcasts is available here.
The doctors who work in clinics for students at the University of California System started a rolling strike Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reported. The doctors plan to strike for four days at the campuses in Northern and Central California, and then for four days at the campuses in Southern California. The university said that management doctors would fill in as much as possible, but that some nonessential appointments for students were being moved. The doctors' union says that the university has engaged in unfair labor practices in contract negotiations -- a charge the university denies.
The governing board for Phi Theta Kappa, a community college honor society, on Thursday released a written statement responding to allegations from two students about Rod Risley, the group's director. Inside Higher Ed recently reported on the controversy.
The two women, who are former student leaders for the group, said they experienced sexual harassment, intimidation, inappropriate touching and unprofessional behavior by Risley. The response from the board, which is investigating those allegations, challenged what it said is "incorrect and misleading information concerning the history" of the women's complaints and how the board has handled them.
The statement said the board was not aware of any of the allegations by Toni Marek, one of the two students, before she resigned from Phi Theta Kappa. The first time board members heard about the complaints of the second student, Rachel Reeck, according to the statement, was after Marek had filed a lawsuit. A court later dismissed that lawsuit.
Regarding the ongoing investigation, the board said it was being handled by a law firm that reports to the board, not Risley. The board also has hired another law firm to conclude and verify the inquiry.
Risley has stepped down, voluntarily, during the course of the investigation, the statement said, beginning on April 14. A spokeswoman for a member of the board said Risley will continue to be paid during his leave.
The statement also pushed back on Inside Higher Ed's reporting about Risley's compensation, which was $743,000 in 2013, according to the group's most recently available tax filing. The reported amount is "misleading," the board said. His base salary is $321,000. The additional compensation includes contributions such as a performance bonus, car allowance and health insurance. The board also said Risley's compensation reflects his 38 years of work for the honor society.
However, Risley made more the previous year. The group's 2012 tax form shows a total compensation of $1,052,813 (including $293,551 in base pay, $60,000 in bonus pay and $699,262 in other compensation). He received an additional $317,322 in other compensation from the honor society or related organizations, according to the form.
A former Southeastern Louisiana University head women's volleyball coach violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules when he allowed a volunteer coach to act as an assistant coach, the N.C.A.A. announced Thursday. The head coach invited the volunteer to join his staff in 2013, the N.C.A.A. stated, and soon instructed the volunteer to "perform coaching activities" without officially counting the coach as a member of the staff.
The head coach also arranged open gym sessions outside the playing season and had "impermissible interactions" with four volleyball prospects, including providing one-on-one instruction to a prospect who attended the university's summer camp. Penalties include a $5,000 fine, a two-year show-cause order for the former head coach and a one-year extension of the university's existing probation stemming from a 2013 case in which 137 athletes competed without meeting eligibility requirements. The probation will now end in 2018.
For the first time in its history, Harvard University hired an equal number of women and men as junior faculty members in 2014-15, according to a new report from its Office of Faculty Development and Diversity. Harvard took on 62 new tenure-track faculty members this year, exactly half of whom were women; 24 percent were minority. Some 28 percent of the Harvard ladder faculty over all are women -- at 438 faculty members, that's about 90 more than even 10 years ago. Harvard says it’s cautiously optimistic that the gender parity can be maintained over time; while many factors play into such an outcome, the university's made a significant effort to welcome more women onto the faculty in recent years by conducting broader, more inclusive faculty searches and through various pipeline efforts aimed at increasing the number of female faculty members. Harvard’s diversity tactics are somewhat similar to those recently announced by Brown University, which pledged to double its proportion of underrepresented minority faculty in 10 years.
“Over the past several years, Harvard, like many institutions, has worked diligently to diversify its faculty at all levels,” Judith D. Singer, Harvard’s senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity and James Bryant Conant Professor of Education, said via email. “While we cannot guarantee that the same will happen next year, this year’s success is a remarkable fact that was entirely unimaginable when I joined the faculty 30 years ago.”
Lawmakers tout improvements tied to Florida's second year of performance-based funding. But is it a coincidence that the system punishes its campus most focused on liberal arts and the one most focused on serving low-income students?