A Georgia legislator is suing the U.S. Department of Education, arguing that the department "exceeded [its] authority" when it released the 2011 Dear Colleague letter instructing colleges on how to prevent and punish campus sexual assault.
Similar to arguments made by congressional Republicans, Earl Ehrhart, a Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives, said that the letter serves as more than guidance and, instead, "advances new substantive rules and creates binding obligations on the affected parties" under threat of severe penalties. "The defendants exceeded their authority and violated the Administrative Procedure Act when they circumvented the requisite notice and comment rule making while nonetheless enforcing the Dear Colleague letter as binding law," the lawsuit states.
In recent months, Ehrhart, who chairs the state's appropriations subcommittee that oversees university spending, has been engaged in a battle with Georgia Tech over how it handles accusations of sexual assault and other due process concerns. Earlier this year, he denied Georgia Tech's request for a $47 million library expansion as punishment and called for the university's president to resign.
In his lawsuit, Ehrhart argues he has been injured by the Education Department's Dear Colleague letter because he is a taxpayer and has a son enrolled at Georgia Tech. Legal experts and victims' advocates this week called the argument weak, however, as Ehrhart's son has not been punished under the rules, thus the harm in the case is speculative and Ehrhart may not have standing to sue. Earlier this month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education offered to sue the department on behalf of any accused students willing to work with the organization.
Essex County College's board on Wednesday fired Gale Gibson, the president, and Rashidah Hasan, general counsel and vice president for human resources, NJ.com reported. Board officials have declined to say exactly why the two were suspended last month and have now been fired. But board members have indicated that Gibson and Hasan were accused of raiding employee hard drives and preventing employees from lodging complaints with board members. A lawyer for the former president said, "Dr. Gibson's name has been wrongly dragged through the mud and she has been relieved from her employment by persons with a political agenda."
Division I college athletes continue to improve academically, at least as measured by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's academic progress rate, the NCAA announced Wednesday. But historically black colleges and universities still trail other programs, with all but one of the 10 institutions facing sanctions this year for not meeting the NCAA's minimum APR requirement being HBCUs.
The NCAA requires teams to reach a minimum APR of 930, which the association says is roughly equivalent to half of a team being on track to graduate. Critics, however, say the metric is arbitrary and does not accurately measure academic progress, especially at institutions with missions to enroll underserved students.
HBCUs and other limited-resource institutions have seen some gains in recent years. The overall single-year APR for limited-resource schools increased from 945 to 966 in the last five years, while HBCUs, specifically, saw an increase from 918 to 956. The NCAA also recently announced a series of education initiatives to provide more academic support to those institutions.
The overall four-year rate for all Division I institutions is 979, up one point from last year.
Tenure-line faculty members at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire voted 97 to 67 to form a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Wednesday. Rebecca Noel, an associate professor of history, said in a statement that the new union seeks to establish agreements and processes guaranteeing workload equity, transparency in governance and academic freedom.
Julie Bernier, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Plymouth State, said in a separate statement that the “administration and faculty have enjoyed a very strong relationship. We expect that will continue as we work together both through collective bargaining and through our shared governance processes focusing on our commitment to providing an affordable, high-quality education to our students.”
East Carolina University announced Tuesday that it has fired a police officer who handcuffed a black man who was the victim of a beating on campus in March. The officer has been on leave since the incident, which started off campus and moved to the campus, and involved three white people beating a black person. When the East Carolina police officer arrived, he handcuffed the black man who was being attacked.
A statement from the university Tuesday said that the officer's actions "violated multiple police policies."
In a good mentoring relationship, both the people involved and the campus will benefit. But what if that is not the case and the mentor starts to resent the mentee for outpacing her? Raymonda Burgman provides advice.
Non-tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Tuesday began a planned two-day strike over stalled negotiations regarding their first union contract. Shawn Gilmore, lecturer in English and president of the American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated non-tenure-track-faculty union, said in an interview that the union would have preferred to continue negations over striking. “But the university has made very little in the way of overtures to bargain or settle outside issues,” he said. Of particular concern to the union is standardized, multiyear contracts for eligible faculty members. Participation in shared governance and assurances of academic freedom also are key.
Robin Kaler, a university spokesperson, said the strike seemed “fairly limited in scope.” While the union wasn’t keeping track of participants, Gilmore said a midday rally saw several hundred attendees, and members plan to continue picketing today.
The university said in a statement that although “we continue to believe a strike is not in the best interests of our specialized faculty members, our students or the campus, we respect the right of each specialized faculty member to decide whether or not to participate. Our goal has always been, and continues to be, to work with the [Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition] to reach a fair and equitable contract.”
While the university supports multiyear contracts, the statement said, individual academic units “are best positioned to award multiyear contracts, as they best know their unique curricular needs and financial capacity. Multiyear contracts should be awarded based on performance, evaluation and merit, not centrally mandated and automatically granted based on the amount of time someone has worked here.”
An assistant professor of outdoor studies at the University of Alaska Southeast was mauled by a bear during a mountaineering class on Monday, the Associated Press reported. The professor, Forest Wagner, was with a group of students on Mount Emmerich when he was attacked by a sow with two cubs. A student hiked down the mountain to notify authorities, since there was no cell phone service at the site of the attack. Students were safely removed from the mountain but the professor remained in the hospital in serious condition on Tuesday.
While diversity in American higher education has improved substantially in recent decades, wealthier students still earn the bulk of the bachelor's degrees awarded in this country, according to new data from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.
A newly released study from the two groups found that the distribution of bachelor's degree attainment between family levels has remained relatively constant since 1970. The top two family income quartiles accounted for 72 percent of the total number of bachelor's degrees earned that year -- and 77 percent of bachelor's degrees earned in 2014. "The bottom two quartiles accounted for 28 percent in 1970 and 23 percent in 2014," the study found, "a decline of five percentage points over this period."