The University of Texas on Monday filed its brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the affirmative action case that will be heard this fall. Texas has prevailed in lower courts, but faces a strong challenge and a potentially skeptical Supreme Court. The brief stresses that the university believes that having a diverse student body is an educational issue. Diversity, the brief says, "better prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse work force and society." But the brief also takes care to say that the university does not define diversity solely by race and ethnicity. "UT has a broad vision of diversity, which looks to a wide variety of individual characteristics — including an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic, and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer, or internship experiences; leadership experiences; special artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity."
While women still make up only 18 percent of business school deans, there are signs of progress, The Wall Street Journal reported. Many deans move up from associate dean positions. There, women have increased from representing 20 percent to one-third of the population. And female associate deans report that search committees appear interested in encouraging their candidacies for dean's jobs.
The University of Oxford, responding to concerns about equity for transgender students, has dropped the dress code that has been in place for students at some formal academic events, BBC News reported. The current rules, which will end August 4, require male students to wear a dark suit, black shoes and a white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns. Women must wear a dark skirt or trousers and a white blouse. The rules were criticized as forcing transgender students into traditional gender roles.
Britain's University of Manchester has unveiled a "pray-o-mat," a small booth in which people can listen to, and join in, 300 pre-recorded prayers from a range of faiths, in 65 different languages. The project is part of study on multi-faith spaces. Ralf Brand, the lead researcher, said that "though the pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we're doing. Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive. In many places a small, clean and largely unadorned space can serve adequately."
President Obama announced Wednesday night that he is planning to create a new office to focus on the needs of African-American students at all levels of education, NBC News reported. The office will work with all federal agencies so that "so every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born to the time, all through the time they get a career," Obama said in an address to the Urban League.
Faculty members and students this week held a protest at Coppin State University, objecting to what they say are 25 layoffs or non-renewals of staff members this year, The Baltimore Sun reported. Leaders of the protest said that they never were told why layoffs were needed, and are concerned about the elimination of positions at a time that President Reginald Avery has been adding slots to his cabinet. Avery and other university officials declined to comment on the protests.
Tarrant County College agrees to pay $160,000 to instructor who says she lost her job for being a lesbian. Lawyer says case shows that bias based on sexual orientation can be fought even in states that don't bar it.