Liberty blocks its student paper from publishing column critical of Trump

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University blocks student paper from publishing column criticizing Trump. Liberty says it acted because the piece was "redundant" with another. The blocked column may be found at the end of this article.

President Quits; Board Cites 'Unmet Financial Obligations'

The College of New Rochelle’s president has resigned after its Board of Trustees recently learned of “significant unmet financial obligations” that have the institution preparing for major budget cuts and possible financial exigency, it announced Tuesday.

President Judith Huntington resigned Saturday, the college said. Her resignation came shortly after the board learned in September of financial obligations that had built up over time. The college did not share the size of the obligations but said that they emerged after its controller retired at the end of the last academic year.

The college said in an online posting that it is investigating why it did not learn of the unmet obligations until recently and why a “nationally known outside firm that routinely audited the college’s financial statements” did not discover them. It also said trustees are exploring bridge financing to stabilize short-term finances. Budget cuts that could hit staff and faculty are also likely.

Trustees put in place a chief restructuring officer, forensic accountant and outside law firm to perform an investigation. Board of Trustees Chair Gwen Adolph said in a statement that more details will be provided when the investigation is complete.

“We have made these changes because we are looking in new directions to protect and preserve the mission of the College of New Rochelle,” Adolph said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that our students have the opportunity to complete their education and take advantage of life’s opportunities.”

Adolph told faculty and staff that the investigation has so far not shown evidence of “self-enrichment,” according to The Journal News. The newspaper reported that the college, which enrolls about 4,000 students and employs about 1,300 people, operated at a loss from 2011-14, drawing down its net assets from more than $30 million to $25 million.

Traditionally a women’s college, New Rochelle generated mixed feedback in December when it announced it would admit men in the fall of 2016. It operates five satellite campuses in New York City boroughs.

Harvard and TAs Agree on Union Election

Harvard University and its would-be graduate student union, affiliated with the United Auto Workers, on Tuesday agreed on terms of a union election, to be held Nov. 16-17. The election agreement is similar to one made between Cornell University and its American Federation of Teachers- and National Education Association-affiliated graduate student union organizers ahead of a major decision in August from the National Labor Relations Board. That decision, which involved a graduate student union bid at Columbia University, paved the way for graduate student unions at private institutions.

Both the Cornell and now Harvard decisions are significant because they signal that the administrations of both institutions will accept the outcome of any union election, and that both sides will avoid potentially lengthy legal oversight by the NLRB. Administrations at some other private institutions have signaled that they will fight graduate student union bids following the NLRB’s August decision. Both teaching and research assistants at Harvard are seeking representation by the UAW.

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Essay on wave of sinister clown sightings and Orrin E. Klapp's 'Heroes, Villains and Fools'

In late August, residents of Greenville, S.C., began reporting to police that one or more clowns had been observed attempting to lure children into a wooded area. It was an odd moment in a year that had already seen more than its share.

Since then, reports of sinister-clown activity (e.g., threats, assaults, the brandishing of knives and standing in place while waving slowly in a menacing manner) have gone viral throughout the United States, with a few now coming in from elsewhere in the world. Professional clowns are distressed by the damage to their reputation, and Ronald McDonald has gone on sabbatical for an indefinite period.

Like many anomalous phenomena -- UFOs, for example, or appearances by Elvis or Bigfoot -- clown sightings tend to come in waves. The recent spate of them has been unusual in both its geographical range and its emotional intensity -- although I suspect that coulrophobia is in fact the normal, even default, emotional response to clowns in any context. A study of children’s response to hospital decorations conducted by researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield in England found that “clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them frightening and unknowable.” And over the past 30 years or so, a strain of pop-culture iconography has tapped into that basic anxiety and amplified it with a series of overtly horrific clowns.

Some of the recently reported incidents involved people wearing commercially produced horror-clown masks. Whatever deep psychological wellsprings may have driven the clown sightings of previous years, the current cycle is, at least in part, a performance of mass hysteria -- an acting out of uncanniness and anxiety, with some individuals playing the menacing part in an almost standardized way.

Trying to make sense of this funny business, I did a search of my digital archive of journal articles, conference papers and whatnot in hopes of finding a paper -- by a folklorist, maybe, or possibly a psychoanalyst -- that might help elucidate the clown question. The most interesting material to turn up was by the late Orrin E. Klapp (1915-1997), a sociologist, whose first book was Heroes, Villains and Fools: The Changing American Character (1962).

Sections of it originally appeared as journal articles; a few of them made passing reference to clowns and clowning. But in these pieces, Klapp is interested in something more general: the range of fairly informal labels or categories we use to characterize people in the course of ordinary life. Examples he gives are “underdog,” “champ,” “bully,” “Robin Hood,” “simpleton,” “crackpot,” “cheat,” “liar” and “big shot.” (“Clown” is one of them, of course, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

What intrigues Klapp about such labels is that they reflect, but also enforce, prevailing values and social norms. Some express a severe judgment (“traitor”) while others are relatively inconsequential (“butterfingers”). New labels or epithets emerge from time to time as others fall out of use; they are part of the flux of everyday life. But Klapp argues that the labels implying particularly strong judgments fall into three general categories that do not change much with time: the hero, the villain and the fool.

“The most perfect examples of heroes,” Klapp writes in one paper, “are to be found in legendary or mythical personages who represent in a superhumanly exaggerated way the things the group admires most.” Villains are “idealized figures of evil, who tend to countermoral actions as a result of an inherently malicious will,” prone to “creating a crisis from which society is saved by a hero, who arrives to restore order to the world.”

The contrast between hero and villain is clear and sharp, but not exhaustive. “If the villain opposes the hero by exaggerated evil traits,” writes Klapp, “the fool does so by his weaknesses, his métier being failure and fiasco rather than success. Though an offender against decorum and good taste, he is too stupid or ineffectual to be taken seriously. His pranks are ridiculed rather than severely punished.”

These three almost archetypal figures are seldom encountered in their purest form outside of fairy tales or superhero comic books. But most of the labels applied to people in the course of ordinary life can, in Klapp’s view, be subsumed under them. (The underdog is a kind of hero; the traitor a form of villain; the fanatic a variety of fool.) The symbolic figures and the everyday labels alike “help in the preservation of values” and “nourish and maintain certain socially necessary sentiments” -- such as “admiration of courage and self-sacrifice, hatred of vice, contempt for folly” and so forth.

Preservation of consensual values and the proper nourishment of socially necessary sentiments were major concerns of American sociologists of the Eisenhower era -- and Klapp’s framework was, in that respect, both normative and normal. But there’s more to his argument than that. He worried that mass media and propaganda techniques could exploit or corrupt those sentiments: Klapp’s papers on villainy and vilification in American culture concern, in part, the then recent success of Joseph McCarthy. He also deserves credit for paying attention to the significant ideological baggage carried by ordinary language.

The clown, in his schema, definitely falls under the heading of the fool -- but with a difference. As someone deliberately accepting the role, inducing ridicule rather than just succumbing to it, the clown exemplifies what Klapp calls the paradoxical status of the fool as “both depreciated and valued: it is at the same time despised and tolerated, ridiculed and enjoyed, degraded and privileged … He also acts as a cathartic symbol for aggressions in the form of wit. He takes liberties with rank; and as butt or scapegoat receives indignities which in real life would be mortal insult or conflict creating.”

Klapp draws close to an insight into a type of clown he doesn’t seem to have recognized: the menacing kind, in Greenville or elsewhere. For the clown, on these terms, has reason to want revenge, to wreak havoc as much as the villain does. (Here one also thinks of a certain political figure with an orange face, unnatural hair and a strange combination of extreme self-centeredness with no discernable self-awareness.) The stock of widely accepted heroic figures may be at an all-time minimum, while neither clowns nor villains are in short supply, and it’s getting harder to tell them apart.

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Big 12 Decides Against Expansion

The Big 12 Conference will not expand beyond its current 10 members, the league announced Monday, dashing the hopes of several college programs that have been lobbying to join the conference over the past year. "Ten is the right number," Gregory Fenves, president of the University of Texas at Austin, a Big 12 member, said in a statement. "It promotes a competitive balance and allows for a round-robin schedule in the different sports, which is best for our student-athletes. This is the right way to ensure a strong conference moving forward."

The news likely came as a disappointment to several institutions that have increased athletic spending in recent years in hopes of receiving an invitation to one of the wealthier Power Five conferences, of which the Big 12 is a member.

“The Big 12’s decision in no way changes the mission of the University of Houston that began long before there was talk of conference expansion,” Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, one of the colleges that had hoped to join the Big 12, said in a statement. “We remain committed to strengthening our nationally competitive programs in academics and athletics that allow our student-athletes to compete on the national stage. We are confident that in this competitive collegiate athletics landscape an established program with a history of winning championships and a demonstrated commitment to talent and facilities in the nation’s fourth-largest city will find its rightful place. Our destiny belongs to us.”

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Nike Co-Founder Gives U of Oregon $500 Million

The University of Oregon on Tuesday announced that it would receive a $500 million gift from Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, and his wife, Penny. Oregon said the gift, which may be the largest ever received by a flagship public university, will be part of a $1 billion project to create a new science campus in Eugene. The largely donor-funded interdisciplinary campus will train scientists while also focusing on entrepreneurship and ties with business, said the university.

The new campus will consist of three new 70,000-square-foot buildings, a conceptual rendering of which appears at right.

“This is a seminal moment for the University of Oregon, an inflection point that will shape the trajectory of the university and this state for the next century and beyond,” Oregon’s president, Michael Schill, said in a written statement. “Thanks to this amazing and generous gift from Penny and Phil, we will aggressively recruit and hire talented new researchers to join our world-class faculty to amplify what we do best -- interdisciplinary scientific research.”

Schill said the Knights will now be the university’s largest academic donor. They had been the second largest. Phil Knight also has been a serious benefactor to Oregon’s football program. In 2014, USA Today reported that he had given more than $300 million to the university’s athletic department.

However, Knight has in the past spurned Oregon, his undergraduate alma mater. He is giving $400 million to Stanford University, where he earned an M.B.A., to support a scholarship program for graduate students.

In an interview, Schill said the Knights would not have given the new money if the university was still part of the now defunct Oregon University System, which the state dismantled in 2015. Independent governing boards now oversee the former system’s seven public universities.

The system played a “leveling” function across its various universities, Schill said, which would have complicated the university’s ambitious plans for the gift. “We never would have gotten this gift if we were part of the system,” he said.

In addition, Schill said the Knights wanted to see “stable leadership” at a university that has recently seen frequent turnover at the top.

New presidents or provosts: Aquinas Central Piedmont DeVry Everett Joliet Macaulay Piedmont Sheridan Trident UWF

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  • Stephen Barrows, program coordinator of the economics department at Aquinas College, in Michigan, has been appointed executive vice president, provost and dean of faculty there.

Competency-based education's business model offers promise, report finds

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Competency-based education can save money for colleges and students, a new report finds, but the efficiency gains won't come easily or without worries about the impact on academic quality.

The importance of having diverse administrators on college campuses (essay)

It’s the gray chair. You know, the one across the desk or at the edge of the cubicle occupied by a financial aid counselor, academic adviser or other staff person on campuses everywhere. As colleges and universities have welcomed students back to school and freshmen have begun their much anticipated college years, these gray chairs have been in high demand. As an undergraduate then medical student, I occupied that chair more times than I can count, and more than a decade later, I still remember it well. More important: I remember the staff members who sat across from me.

Today I am an academic pediatrician at an Ivy League institution. When I retrace the path that brought me here, I recall my relationships with staff members as much or more than those with faculty members. In their own way, they were equally -- or even more -- important.

That was especially true for my undergraduate years, when as a female minority student, I watched the rapid decline of pre-meds who looked anything like me. During those years, you would often find me perched in my gray chair, talking to my favorite staff members about life, goals, relationships, clubs and organizations. They were the ones who supported me through the sorrow of my mom’s losing battle with cancer, the joy of planning my wedding and the excitement mixed with apprehension of having a baby. They were my academic family.

There are more than 1.7 million staff members at postsecondary institutions in the United States, a number that continues to grow. In addition to their core functions, they often serve as advisers to student clubs and organizations, teach students life lessons as they navigate their newfound independence living away from home, and serve as support systems as students deal with personal and peer conflicts. Often these additional activities require staff members to attend events or student meetings after business hours, cutting into their personal lives. Yet they still show up smiling.

The role of staff assumes added importance as colleges and universities make plans to increase diversity initiatives in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of these student-led movements across the country called for increased student support and a more diverse presence within the classroom. Staff members from a diverse range of identities are also integral to the overall student experience and the creation of inclusive campus environments. At many institutions, the staff is much more diverse than the faculty. However, that trend often dissipates when you look at senior administrators across college campuses.

To address that, some institutions are incorporating staff initiatives in to their diversity plans. For example, Brown University is starting initiatives to help foster the professional development and career growth of staff members. If other institutions are committed to changing the cultures of their campuses, they should acknowledge the vital role of administrative staff members and ensure their diversity plans incorporate ways to foster those staffers' career growth.

While we as faculty are experts in our fields, we are not the experts in all fields. As we ascend to leadership positions, it behooves us to keep a finger on the pulse of the larger campus community and to foster an opportunity-rich environment for all. Staff members have goals, career plans and ambitions that need to be supported. No one would accept a job if they were told from the beginning that they would have minimal to no potential for growth. But for many staff members at academic institutions, that becomes the reality. They often receive little, if any, career mentoring from supervisors and have to consider other job opportunities (often at other institutions) to advance or reshape their careers. Many of us have had annual reviews that simply serve the purpose of checking the box. While perhaps simple in theory, we should make these opportunities meaningful and substantive. Faculty or leadership development programs may be necessary to support supervisors in providing meaningful mentoring and career advice.

In recent years, inflated administration paychecks have come in for attack as one reason for the soaring cost of student tuition. But let’s be clear: few staff members are making impressive salaries, let alone the jaw-dropping seven-figure packages that have drawn the most attention. This is not an argument for or against increased pay or an increased number of administrators on campuses. Rather, it means to highlight the importance of diversifying the current staff and faculty at colleges and universities. If increased attention were given to current staff members, noting their skill sets and future ambitions, perhaps it could lead to more productivity, lower turnover and increased job satisfaction. All of which could save money in the long run.

In his last State of the Union address, President Obama asked, “How do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?” I believe the challenges that many colleges and universities will need to address over the coming year as they create inclusive environments, valuing diversity of all types, will be solved by retaining and strengthening all members of the team. That includes the countless campus staffers who welcome students to their gray chairs.

Stephanie White, M.D., is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth/Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Geisel Diversity Liaison for Student/Resident Advising. She is a Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project.

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U Miami Settles Philosophy Harassment Case

The University of Miami has settled with a former graduate student of philosophy who alleged long-term sexual harassment by Colin McGinn, a professor of philosophy. In her high-profile lawsuit, the student claimed that McGinn used his position of power to gain her trust and “groomed” her for a sexual relationship -- including by inviting her to his office, offering her a research assistantship and asking her to participate in a “hand ritual” that involved prolonged physical contact. McGinn then began to send numerous sexually tinged emails, with lines from the book Lolita and demands for “unlimited hand strokes and full body grips,” according to the complaint. He allegedly kissed the student's feet, to which she responded by wearing sneakers to their meetings to avoid the unwanted kissing, and began demanding sex. McGinn allegedly threatened her for limiting contact over his escalating demands, saying via email, “I am quite forgiving. But this refusal to even meet with me to talk is quite unhelpful. The last thing I want to do is think badly of you, and you are much better off with my support than without it. So please think carefully about your actions.”

The student reported the professor’s actions as alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit sex discrimination in education, according to her complaint. But the university allegedly did not follow protocol for investigations under Title IX, such as by diverting her report to an informal investigation channel, rather than a formal one that would have guaranteed transparency about the status of her case. She alleged that procedural inconsistencies contributed to McGinn’s “academic assault” on her in retribution for her report, which included an email saying he’d be removing her name and any acknowledgment of her significant editorial contribution to a book he authored. He also allegedly sent letters to renowned colleagues at various institutions, saying he was being falsely accused by the student, whom he named. McGinn signed a resignation agreement in early 2013, according to the complaint, but was salaried and employed through the end of year, during which time he was permitted to supervise another female graduate student.

McGinn has argued that “hand job” was philosophical banter. The plaintiff also alleged that the university helped McGinn preserve his reputation while damaging hers, including by submitting a false charge to the Faculty Senate that McGinn had failed to report a consensual relationship, rather than a charge of sexual harassment. The plaintiff's attorney said this week that the case had been settled, and that all parties were prohibited from talking about it. The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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