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."
The office of California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday announced how it plans to distribute a new $50 million fund for innovation in higher education. The idea was to pick the best ideas that bubbled up from faculty and administrators at the state's public institutions. College were directed to submit proposals that attempt to increase degree production, encourage the acceptance of transfer credit and help students graduate on time. Brown's office picked 14 winners, with awards ranging from $2.5 million to $5 million.
Yeshiva University announced Thursday that it is merging the faculties of its men's undergraduate college (Yeshiva College) and its women's undergraduate college (Stern College for Women). At the same time, the two colleges will maintain separate campuses and separate courses. But until now, each college had its own departments. Now merged departments will serve both colleges. A spokesman said that the merger of the faculties would not lead to job cuts, but that financial difficulties at the university could lead to a small number of cuts.
Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California System, on Thursday apologized for a remark caught on tape the day before in which she called a student protest "crap," The Los Angeles Times reported. Napolitano made the remark when students interrupted a Board of Regents meeting, standing on chairs, shouting, taking off their shirts and throwing fake money. On Thursday, Napolitano apologized, saying, "I’m sorry for using a word I don't usually use," and asking for "empathy and understanding" about the context of a remark she thought was a private comment to a regent.