Bluffton University, a Mennonite institution in Ohio, has become the latest Christian college to announce that it will hire gay and lesbian people. The university recently amended its antibias rules to state that they apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Bluffton characterizes this as a clarification, not a change in policy. In a related move, Bluffton announced that it would end its membership in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.
In September, two other Mennonite colleges -- Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College -- left the CCCU several months after they changed policies to permit the hiring of some gay and lesbian people. Some CCCU members had said that they would not remain in the organization if other members recognized same-sex marriages and hired gay people. The CCCU said it was forming a task force to consider how to handle future situations related to these issues, and that members moving to allow the hiring of gay faculty members would have their status reviewed by the task force. A spokesperson for Bluffton said that the university did not want to have its status reviewed or altered in this way, and so opted to leave. The decision was voluntary, the Bluffton official said.
The CCCU issued this statement: "The CCCU and Bluffton have been in collegial conversations during the fall. The CCCU is a voluntary association. Bluffton knew that clarifications in their nondiscrimination statement would result in a change of membership status while the CCCU task force on membership finished their work. Bluffton preferred not to accept a change of membership status in the interim and so withdrew. We wish Bluffton the best as they offer their excellent educational opportunities to the world."
Threat against black students at Kean turns out to have been hoax; Harvard drops use of title "master" for leaders of residential colleges; 12-day Brandeis sit-in ends; a Kentucky legend defends mural that was covered up.
Martha Minow, the law dean at Harvard University, on Monday announced that she had appointed a panel to study whether the law school should change its seal, which many black students and others say honors a man with a terrible history. The seal (at right) is the crest of arms of Isaac Royall, whose bequest endowed the first chair at the law school. Students have advocating changing the seal because of Royall's ties to slave labor. As Minow write in an announcement of the study, "Royall was the son of an Antiguan slaveholder known to have treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, including burning 77 people to death." She appointed historians on the faculty "to lead a process for soliciting the views and perspectives of all within our community -- students, alumni, faculty and staff -- on whether the Royall crest should be discarded from our shield. Through that process, we will gain a better sense of what course of action should be recommended and pursued, and we will discuss and understand important aspects of our history and what defines us today and tomorrow as a community dedicated to justice, diversity, equality and inclusion. We will also have an opportunity to do what all lawyers must do if they are to be effective, which is to truly listen to the perspectives and experiences related by others.”
Student protests at Princeton University have led the university to agree to consider removing Woodrow Wilson's name from a residential college and school of public policy at the university. At the same time, the demand by black students that the university do so -- because of Wilson's racist views, which he incorporated into public policy -- has been widely criticized by some at the university and many pundits. But in a sign that the students have indeed placed the issue on the public agenda, The New York Times has in an editorial urged Princeton to drop the Wilson name.
The Wilson administration "set about segregating the work force, driving out highly placed black employees and shunting the rest into lower-paying jobs," says an editorial in the Times.
After reviewing Wilson's record of supporting segregation at levels beyond what he found when became president, the editorial says, "None of this mattered in 1948 when Princeton honored Wilson by giving his name to what is now called the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Black Americans were still viewed as nonpersons in the eyes of the state, and even the most strident bigots were held up to public adulation. This is certainly not the case today. The overwhelming weight of the evidence argues for rescinding the honor that the university bestowed decades ago on an unrepentant racist."
Students at Brandeis University have been occupying an administration building that includes the president's office since Friday, with support from some faculty members. The Boston Globe reported that Lisa M. Lynch, the acting president, has pledged support for many of the goals of the protesting students. But in a letter to students and faculty members, Lynch said that she did not favor the specific timetable the protest movement is demanding. “We recognize that we must go further to fulfill our founding ideals,” she wrote. “However, reacting to immediate timetables and ultimata is not something that is productive or does justice to the work that needs to be done.” Setting a timetable “does not allow for engagement of all members of our community. This deep engagement is critical to ensure that the course we follow takes account of the many important interests that are involved or implicated in any initiative and has broad support,” Lynch added.
A new study has found that in a recent 10-year period while there has been an increase in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded in the physical sciences and engineering, the share of such degrees awarded to black students has fallen, as other groups are seeing larger increases. The study, by the American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center, found that from 2003 to 2013, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded in the physical sciences to all students increased by 53 percent, while the number of degree awarded to black students increased by 39 percent. Particularly notable in this category is that while the number of physics degrees awarded increased by 58 percent, the number awarded to black students increased by only 1 percent.
In engineering, the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded increased by 29 percent, while the number awarded to black students increased by 10 percent.
American Indian College, which describes itself as the nation's only private college for Native American students, will teach out its 91 students and close its doors after having its accreditation withdrawn by the Higher Learning Commission, the Phoenix institution's president said Monday.
The commission, which accredits institutions in 19 mostly Midwestern states, determined that the tiny onetime Bible college had addressed some of the concerns that resulted in its being placed on probation by the commission in October 2013. But the accrediting group cited continuing concerns about the college's financial situation, including long-term debt of $2.9 million and "insufficient overall revenue generation and fundamental financial weakness in the college’s finances." HLC ordered American Indian officials to develop a plan by next week to teach out its remaining students.
The college's current president, David Moore, led the institution from 1975 to 1994 and returned in June 2013 to try to get it back on track. He said he was "surprised and disappointed" that the commission voted to withdraw accreditation, especially because an "institutional action committee" established by the accreditor had recommended that the college continue on probation rather than lose its accreditation. The college has not missed any payments on its debt since Moore returned, he said, enrollment has climbed and the college's lender is "very happy" because the institution's campus and assets were recently valued at $9 million.
But Moore said the institution would not appeal the HLC or sue to try to have it reversed. The college will submit a plan today to have another institution (which he declined to identify) help its current students finish their educations, Moore said. "They've made their decision, and we will move forward."