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Chapel Hill Chancellor to Step Down After Moving Pieces From Confederate Monument Site

The chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will leave her position at the end of the academic year, she said Monday in a letter in which she also announced that she has authorized the removal of the base and commemorative plaques from the site of the felled Silent Sam Confederate monument that has roiled the campus and the UNC system.

Carol L. Folt (at right) emphasized safety in her decision to remove the base and plaques from the site of the statue, which protestors tore down in August. Keeping the remaining parts of the monument on campus created a continuing threat to personal safety, community well-being and the university’s ability to provide a stable educational environment, she wrote in a letter posted to the university’s news site.

“While I recognize that some may not agree with my decision to remove the base and tablets now, I am confident this is the right one for our community -- one that will promote public safety, enable us to begin the healing process and renew our focus on our great mission,” Folt wrote.

Folt and Chapel Hill’s campus board had backed a plan to build a history center to house the monument and detail the history of race at the university. But the UNC Board of Governors rejected that plan in December.

The debate over the statue's future was not resolved when it was knocked down by protesters. Some called for the statue to be restored to its site. The state's Republican former governor, Pat McCrory, had signed a law to prevent relocating or removing monuments on public property without permission from a state historical commission.

In her letter, Folt did not draw an explicit connection between her decision to remove the monument base and plaques and her decision to step down from the chancellorship. But the system Board of Governors went into emergency closed session shortly before her announcement.

Folt wrote that she has always been driven by the “new and the next.” As she reflected on accomplishments at Chapel Hill, she decided it was time to transfer leadership to a new chancellor and look toward her own future, she wrote.

“Most importantly, we must always do what we can to make sure our faculty, students and staff have a creative, innovative work and living environment, one that is inclusive, forward-looking and safe,” Folt wrote. “This year for example, we reached our highest level of research funding ever (5th in the nation in federal funds), continued to see historic increases in first-year applications and levels of philanthropy, and pushed ahead as a national leader in affordability, access and student graduation rates. These accomplishments show how talented and dedicated our community is and what can be achieved even in the face of disruption. Just imagine what is possible if we can put our full attention to the potentials and needs of the future.”

A full article on this news will be published tomorrow.

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UNC Board Rejects Plan for Confederate Monument

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday rejected a plan to build a new history center on campus to house Silent Sam, a Confederate monument widely seen on the campus as a symbol of white supremacy.

Chapel Hill's campus board and its chancellor, Carol Folt, proposed spending $5 million on a history center that would house the monument and also tell the story of race at the university. Folt has said she would prefer for the statue to be moved off campus but that North Carolina law generally bars moving such monuments off campus. Protesters toppled the statue in August, and many fear that restoring it to its old location would simply lead to more attempts to bring it down. Student and faculty groups have demanded that the statue be kept off campus, and some teaching assistants have held a grading strike to protest the plan to bring the statue back, even in a history center. There were also protests outside Friday's meeting. Many have also questioned spending money to house and protect the statue.

But some politicians and at least one Board of Governors member have called for the statue to go back to its place on campus, outside.

The UNC system board, which acted Friday, appointed a committee to come up with a new plan for Silent Sam, to be considered by March 15. Here is a tweet from Chapel Hill:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newbury College Will Close

Newbury College, in Massachusetts, announced today that it will shut down at the end of the spring 2019 semester.

A statement from Joseph L. Chillo, the president, said in part: "It is no secret that weighty financial challenges are pressing on liberal arts colleges throughout the country. Newbury College is no exception. These financial challenges, the product of major changes in demographics and costs, are the driving factors behind our decision to close at the end of this academic year. The decision was not arrived at lightly because we know how much Newbury College means to so many. Our decision to close comes only after a tireless pursuit of multiple options to remain open and continue serving our students as a beacon of opportunity and hope to achieve the dreams of a college education."

Newbury is located outside of Boston. Its fall 2018 enrollment was 627.

A full article on the closure will appear on Monday.

 

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U.S. Recommends Renewed Recognition for Troubled Accreditor

Education Department officials have recommended new life for an accrediting agency whose federal authority to operate was withdrawn by the Obama administration.

In a letter obtained by Inside Higher Ed, the department's senior official for accreditation, Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary of education, said that her review had found the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to be in compliance with 19 of the 21 relevant criteria, and recommended that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos give the agency a year to come into compliance on the remaining two.

Jones also said that she believe the agency, at the time then-Education Secretary John King withdrew its recognition in December 2016, had "likely" been in compliance at that time. 

DeVos said in April that she would restore ACICS's recognition pending a new review, acting after a federal judge the month before that King had failed to consider key evidence before terminating the agency's recognition.

 

 

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Colleges and Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence is still moving and it remains unclear how much damage it will do to colleges in the Carolinas. At Inside Higher Ed, we hope the damage is minimal and welcome reports from colleges on how they are faring. Please email [email protected].

Colleges throughout the region are closed, many of them with mandatory campus evacuations.

Many students from the College of Charleston have been evacuated to the University of South Carolina, which posted this photo.

East Carolina University tweeted photos (below) of some of its students volunteering in various efforts before Florence's arrival.

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Education Dept. to Repeal 'Gainful' Rules

The Department of Education plans to repeal the Obama administration’s gainful employment rule, it announced Friday.

The rule sought to hold all career education and certificate programs -- the vast majority at for-profit institutions -- accountable for producing graduates with debt they couldn’t repay. Programs that repeatedly failed the metrics risked losing access to federal student aid.

The rule was contested heavily by the for-profit college sector but eventually went into effect in 2014. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she would suspend the rule last year though pending the outcome of a negotiated rule-making process, which finished earlier this year without producing a new regulation.

In place of the rule, the department plans to expand program-level outcomes data available from the College Scorecard but without any measures that punish those programs with poor outcomes. More program level data has long been a goal of advocates for higher ed transparency but will do nothing to placate advocates of more accountability for poor performing programs.

The department argues in an unofficial notice of proposed rule-making document that research results undermine the use of debt-to-earnings rates for graduates to determine programs' eligibility for federal student aid. And the department notice says public disclosure requirements for institutions were more burdensome than anticipated. 

The department will have to seek public comment on the proposed repeal after its publication in The Federal Register.

The for-profit college sector had long called for the same rule for all higher ed programs. But Congress would have to rewrite current law to apply such a provision uniformly. The proposal accomplishes that by applying the same transparency measure to all programs.

A tenth of all programs assessed under the gainful employment rule in 2017 failed the federal standards. Of those, 98 percent were at for-profit institutions.

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Michigan State, Nassar survivors agree to $500 million settlement

University will pay $425 million to current plaintiffs, set aside $75 million for future.

Hobart President Resigns After Plagiarism Allegations

The president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges resigned Friday, just weeks after the college started investigating allegations that he plagiarized his 2004 dissertation.

An anonymous email dated March 21 alleged several instances of plagiarism in the dissertation, which Gregory J. Vincent wrote to receive his doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. Leaders at Hobart and William Smith Colleges then started investigating the matter.

On Friday, Vincent told trustees he was resigning. He said in a statement that he believed in the path Hobart and William Smith had been following under his leadership.

“Given the anonymous allegations leveled against my scholarship, however, and the distraction they have caused, I believe this is the best decision for the colleges and for me,” Vincent said. “My primary concern is to avoid any further stress to the campus community. I remain grateful for the partnership of the community and wish the colleges well.”

The college will conduct a national search for a replacement. In the meantime, Pat McGuire, professor emeritus of economics, will serve as interim president.

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Mount Ida College to Close, With Campus Going to UMass

Graphic for Inside Higher Ed Events, part of the 2018 Leadership Series: "Joining Forces: Merger and Collaboration Strategies." Presenting sponsor Strada Education Network. April 19, Washington, DC. Register now.Mount Ida College announced Friday that it will shut down and its campus will become part of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Students in good standing will be eligible for automatic admission to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where they have been assured they can finish their degrees.

Mount Ida has been struggling financially and looking for new options. In February it announced discussions with Lasell College about a possible merger. But those discussions ended last month.

The discussions came at a time when a number of colleges are considering mergers and some have closed. Small private colleges without substantial endowments have been particularly challenged by the current economy.

A statement from the college's board said, "The financial situation facing small private colleges nationwide is a difficult one. Despite extraordinary growth and progress over the last several years, Mount Ida, like its peers, is vulnerable to the realities of having limited resources. As a result, we have considered multiple options to secure the strongest possible long-term future for our students."

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Trump Picks Jon Parrish Peede to Lead NEH

Photo of Jon Parrish PeedePresident Trump on Friday nominated Jon Parrish Peede (right) to become chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Peede has worked at the NEH since April 2017, serving as senior deputy chairman. Since William D. Adams, an appointee of President Obama, stepped down as chairman in May, Peede has effectively been the senior person at the NEH.

In his first two budget proposals, Trump proposed eliminating the NEH, but Congress has rebuffed him.

Peede has experience in the humanities publishing world. He has served as publisher of Virginia Quarterly Review, at the University of Virginia; literature grants director at the National Endowment for the Arts; director of communications at Millsaps College; and an editor at Mercer University Press.

The National Humanities Alliance published an interview with Peede in October. In that interview, Peede said that he viewed the NEH as “a catalytic funder” that can encourage “institutional buy-in” and help start “new areas of the humanities.”

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