The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and three universities are teaming up to try to replicate the successful Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which has helped the University of Maryland-Baltimore County become a top producer of minority scientists. Under the arrangement, announced Tuesday, Hughes will help Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill try to adapt elements of the Meyerhoff program to newly created programs on their own campuses. The five-year effort, into which HHMI is investing $7.5 million, is designed to study the progress of the adaptation to see if it can be done and then further expanded.
The South Carolina Senate, after lengthy debate, has voted to punish two public colleges that taught gay-themed books last year, but not to cut their budgets by sums equal to spending on the programs that taught the books, as the House of Representatives has proposed. The Post and Courier reported that the Senate bill would instead require that the two colleges -- the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate -- take funds equal to those spent on the books with gay themes and use that money to teach the U.S. Constitution and various works that relate to the founding of the United States. The House and Senate measures are both parts of budget bills on which differences will now need to be resolved.
Democrats have criticized both the House and Senate approaches as inappropriate political meddling into what colleges teach. Republicans have blasted the books as "pornography."
Minority enrollments in law schools showed only modest gains in the last decade, rising from 20.6 percent in 2003 to 25.8 percent in 2012, according to an analysis in The National Law Journal. The figures for black students were particularly stagnated, increasing only from 6.9 percent to 7.5 percent during that time period.
Virginia Military Institute violated federal law in how it handled sexual harassment and assault cases and by requiring pregnant cadets to leave the institution, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced Friday.
Federal investigators determined that “female cadets were exposed to a sexually hostile environment” at VMI and that the institute did not promptly and equitably resolve cadet complaints about sexual harassment and sexual assault, as it is required to do under the federal anti-discrimination law known as Title IX. The institute’s policies also illegally required that pregnant and parenting cadets resign or face separation from VMI, the department said in a statement, adding that the OCR has already negotiated changes to those policies.
The civil rights office and VMI have entered into a resolution agreement to resolve the Title IX complaint. Under the agreement, VMI will be required to, among other things, conduct annual climate assessments concerning sexual harassment and assault, provide annual training on sexual assault prevention, and revise its tenure and promotion policies.
VMI said in a statement it was “profoundly disappointed with OCR’s findings.”
“We signed this agreement not because we feel the findings are representative of the VMI environment; but rather, it is in the best interest of the Institute to cooperate with OCR and put an end to this six-year investigation,” the statement said. It continued: "VMI is committed to providing a safe environment in which cadets can learn, in which faculty members can teach, and in which staff members can support the Institute’s mission.”
Tufts University and the U.S. Department of Education have resolved an unusual dispute over how to settle a finding that the university’s handling of sexual assault cases violated federal law.
University and federal officials said Friday that Tufts had formally recommitted to the signed agreement that it backed out of earlier this month, which prompted a warning from the Education Department that the university’s federal funding may be in jeopardy.
Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights, confirmed in a statement Friday that the university was no longer in breach of the agreement.
“I congratulate Tufts University for taking swift action to cure its breach of its April 17 agreement with” the department’s Office for Civil Rights, she said. “I look forward to working with [Tufts] President [Anthony] Monaco and the university community to ensure the safety of all students on campus.”
Monaco “officially” recommitted to the signed agreement during a meeting on Thursday with Lhamon, the university said. Following student protests on campus, a university spokeswoman first said last Friday that the university was recommitting to the agreement.
The standoff began last month when Tufts withdrew from an agreement it had signed nine days earlier to resolve a Title IX complaint against the university. The Education Department responded by saying that Tufts had breached the agreement and warned that officials might seek to cut off the university’s federal funding if the matter was not resolved in 60 days.
At the time, university officials said they were backing out of the agreement because they had signed it under the understanding that federal officials were concerned only with a previous violation of Title IX on the campus, not a current issue. The university said it strongly disagreed with the conclusion by the Office for Civil Rights that its current sexual assault policies violated Title IX.
The department’s announcement about the Tufts case came as the Obama administration was promoting its efforts to push colleges to clamp down on sexual assaults. The administration also publicly named, for the first time, all of the 55 colleges that the Education Department is probing for their handling of sexual assault cases.
Separately, the Education Department announced Friday that Virginia Military Institute had violated Title IX by kicking out pregnant cadets and not properly handing sexual harassment and assault cases. Federal officials and VMI have entered into an agreement to resolve the violations, which requires the institution to make several changes to its policies.
The U.S. Supreme Court in April upheld the right of states to bar public colleges and universities to consider race or ethnicity in admissions decisions. On Tuesday, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a letter affirming the right of colleges without such state bans to consider to consider race and ethnicity, within the limits of other court decisions. "The Departments of Education and Justice strongly support diversity in elementary, secondary, and higher education, because racially diverse educational environments help to prepare students to succeed in our increasingly diverse nation," the letter said. "The educational benefits of diversity, long recognized by the court and affirmed in research and practice, include cross-racial understanding and dialogue, the reduction of racial isolation, and the breaking down of racial stereotypes. Furthermore, to be successful, the future workforce of America should transcend the boundaries of race, language, and culture as our economy becomes more globally interconnected."
A new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences uses two longitudinal surveys to attempt to explain the relative academic advantage of Asian-American students, on average, compared to white students. It appears to be about work ethic. "We find that the Asian-American educational advantage is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics," says the abstract, available here.