Sustainability has become "higher education's new fundamentalism," according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Scholars, a group that is an advocate for a traditional college curriculum. Sustainability is not just about promoting environmentalism, the report argues. Rather, the movement "distorts college curricula and cuts off free inquiry on important questions." Further, colleges are "spending lavishly on sustainability programs" at a time of tight budgets for other priorities, the report says.
About 2,500 people rallied at the University of Mississippi Wednesday to demand that the state higher education board reverse its decision not to renew the contract of Chancellor Dan Jones, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The decision not to keep Jones, despite faculty, student and donor backing, has angered many. The diversity and size of the rally was notable, the newspaper said.
"Around 2,500 people -- estimated by some to be the largest nonathletics gathering on campus in decades -- gathered in front of the university's Lyceum. They were old and young, representing both town and gown. There were professors and staff members. Frat bros and hipsters. Black and white. All gathered in one place to support their chancellor, Dr. Dan Jones," the article said.
Mississippi legislators have drafted and are lining up support for bills that would strip the state's higher education board of the right to hire and fire university presidents, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The bill would create individual boards for each university and give them that power. It is uncertain if the bills will pass, in part because they require supermajority support because they were filed after the normal deadline for legislation. But many lawmakers are endorsing the idea, based in part on their frustrations that the state board has decided not to renew the contract of Dan Jones as chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Also on Tuesday, the Faculty Senate at Mississippi unanimously passed a resolution that the body "expresses its utmost confidence in Chancellor Jones and calls upon the board to immediately reverse its decision and renew his contract."
Pennsylvania State University announced Monday that it will hold off on any punishments of a fraternity found to have operated private Facebook pages with photos of passed-out women, drug sales and hazing. But the university said it would launch a major study of fraternity life. A statement from Eric J. Barron, president of Penn State, said that he was "personally repulsed and shocked" by the Facebook pages of Kappa Delta Rho, but that he was not prepared -- as some have urged -- to expel or suspend all the fraternity members. "The motivation behind these requests is understandable, however, the criminal investigation by local police into the KDR matter continues, as does the process managed by our Office of Student Conduct. Patience is required to allow these investigations to continue unimpeded so that we can achieve a level of justice that fully matches the outcomes of the investigations. I ask for your understanding as due process proceeds," he said.
At the same time, Barron said he was appointing a committee to study the Greek system at Penn State.
The University of Massachusetts System, like many colleges and universities, has used debt financing in recent years to add and renovate facilities. But an article in The Boston Globe raises questions about the impact of using so much debt. The current debt level is $3 billion. This year, the university will pay $203 million in debt and interest, up from $137 million five years ago.
The chancellor of Bob Jones University on Saturday apologized for a statement he made in 1980, while president of the university, that gay people should be stoned to death. At the time, Bob Jones III told a reporter, "I'm sure this will be greatly misquoted, but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel's day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands."
For several years, a group urging Bob Jones University to stop discriminating against gay people has been gathering signatures on a petition to ask Bob Jones III to apologize. On Saturday, he did, posting this on the university's blog: "I take personal ownership of this inflammatory rhetoric. This reckless statement was made in the heat of a political controversy 35 years ago. It is antithetical to my theology and my 50 years of preaching a redeeming Christ who came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. Upon now reading these long-forgotten words, they seem to me as words belonging to a total stranger -- were my name not attached. I cannot erase them, but wish I could, because they do not represent the belief of my heart or the content of my preaching. Neither before, nor since, that event in 1980 have I ever advocated the stoning of sinners."
As the statement suggests, the university continues to call gay sexuality sinful, in violation of university rules for students or employees. The relevant university policy states in part: "Bob Jones University believes that any form of sexual immorality -- such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s biological sex -- is sinful and offensive to God."