Live Updates: Latest News in Higher Education



Live Updates: Latest News in Higher Education

8 Students Have Died at N.C. State This Academic Year

A student death, apparently by suicide, on Saturday brings to eight the number of students who have died at North Carolina State University this academic year, The New & Observer reported.

A graduate student was found dead Thursday from what are believed to be natural causes.

Counseling services are available to students, who are being urged to use them.

In addition, the university is having a Wellness Day, with no classes on Thursday. The day was set following student deaths by suicide in the fall.

Plan to Reduce Faculty Workload Delayed Indefinitely

A plan to reduce faculty workloads at Metropolitan State University of Denver, which had been expected to take effect in the fall, has been delayed indefinitely, Colorado Public Radio reported.

The planned reduction would have had most tenure-track faculty members reduced from teaching four to three courses a semester. The university would hire additional faculty members to make up for the lost courses.

But a recent memo from Janine Davidson, the president, to faculty members said the board wanted the policy delayed. Board members fear it is not financially sustainable, she said.

Faculty members are upset.

“It caught, I think, everyone off guard,” said Sheila Rucki, a political science professor at the university. “Everyone was surprised. The deans, everyone who had been sort of planning for the implementation in fall, was just shocked.”

Cooper Union Reinstates Student Show It Barred

The Cooper Union reinstated a student show that it initially barred for fears it would offend the Ukrainians in the neighborhood, The New York Times reported.

The exhibit was apolitical but concerned a Russian response to the Bauhaus. The exhibit is called “Vkhutemas: Laboratory of the Avant-Garde, 1920–1930.” Vkhutemas was dismantled by Stalin.

The show was closed four days after Peder Anker, a history of science professor at New York University, published an essay in Archinect. “I believe the Cooper Union should terminate this exhibition and put a pause on its courses on Soviet and Russian architecture,” Anker wrote. “To hide war crimes, Russian acolytes in New York try their best to make their nation shine as harboring highbrow culture.”

In announcing that the show would not open, Hayley Eber, acting dean of Cooper Union’s architecture school, said the institution needed “time and space” to make “an informed decision on moving forward. It is important to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our own Ukrainian community members as we thoughtfully explore our next steps.”

But more than 750 scholars and students signed a letter to Cooper Union. “We stand in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those who oppose Russia’s unjustified and brutal invasion. To conflate the work of an architectural school based in Moscow a century ago (and shut down after just one decade in a wave of cultural and political suppression) with the actions of the Russian regime today, however, represents both a profound misunderstanding of the history of Vkhutemas and a troubling instance of censorship and historical erasure,” the letter said.

On Monday, Cooper Union reinstated the show.

Vermont State U Will Make Libraries All Digital

Vermont State University plans to repurpose libraries on its five campuses and move to an “all-digital academic library” system when it opens as a unified institution in July, VTDigger reported.

Parwinder Grewal, who will become president of the new university, announced the decision in an email to students, faculty members and staff Tuesday. The goal of the changes, Grewal said, is to provide “greater equity of access to our library services.”

The new university will combine Castleton University, Vermont Technical College and Northern Vermont University. Northern Vermont in 2018 absorbed Johnson State College and Lyndon State College.

The new plan for libraries is to eliminate all books and other physical resources.

Students criticized the move.

Alexia Murray, a biology major on the Johnson campus, called librarians, in person, essential to her studies.

“It’s a lot easier to get help” from librarians, Murray said. “Online, all I could really do was maybe google it—and I'd end up getting some either vague or too-complicated answer.”

Murray said she was weighing whether to stay enrolled in a college without a physical library and said she was worried for the university’s quality in the future.

Ex-Dean Sues President and Provost for Racial Bias

A former dean of Thomas Edison State University sued the university, its president and provost for discrimination based on his race (Black) and because he has diabetes, NJ Advance Media reported.

Joseph Youngblood II said in court papers he was harassed and discriminated against during his 18 years.

Specifically, the suit charges Cynthia Baum, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Merodie Hancock, the president, with discriminating and retaliating against Youngblood due to his race and his insulin-dependent diabetes. Both Baum and Hancock are white. They did not respond to a request for comment.

Hancock is alleged in the suit to have said “Black parents don’t love their children,” that “the Black community doesn’t value education,” and the reason Black men don’t finish college is “their baby mothers and girlfriends don’t want them to be successful.”

Baum is alleged to have responded to a request by Youngblood to reschedule a meeting so he could get insulin in a discriminatory way. “She questioned why employees thought they get to have a ‘nice, neat lunch hour’ and commented that if their blood sugar is running low, they should drink a Pepsi,” the suit said.

Alaska College Scholarship Sees Low Acceptance Rate

Most of the best students in Alaska high schools leave the state for college. And a state scholarship designed to change that is not working, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Alaska Performance Scholarship was first established in 2011 to keep the best students in the state for college. There are three tiers to the scholarship, the highest of which is $4,755 per year.

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education recently released a report that found a record-low 22 percent of eligible students chose to use the scholarship in 2022, dropping from a high of 39 percent in 2016.

“We’re consciously working on bringing that number up to 50 [percent],” said Pat Pitney, president of the University of Alaska.

Eastern Washington Blocked Professor From Twitter

Eastern Washington University blocked a professor from using the university’s Twitter account for nearly a year because of his tweets critical of university spending on athletics, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Larry Cebula, a history professor, was blocked.

David Meany, director of communications and media relations, said Cebula’s tweets were defamatory. For example, he pointed to this tweet: “For those following along at home, #EWU is still a dumpster fire, caused by the admin gutting every campus office to find even more money for the football team,” Cebula wrote. “Campus offices at half-staff, impossible to order equipment or hire student workers or get support for essential tasks.”

Meany said, “A tweet like that is disparaging to Eastern, especially since future students can easily search what’s happening at Eastern by using the #EWU hashtag.”

When Cebula last week asked why he was blocked, the social media team at the university was unable to locate a tweet disparaging football players, Meany added. As a result, he was unblocked. However, Meany said the university stands behind its decision.

U of Houston Ends Policy Requiring Actors to Wear Vests

The University of Houston has ended a policy requiring student actors to wear vests when rehearsing outdoors, The Texas Tribune reported.

The policy was put in place last year after a campus police officer drew a gun on a Black student while he was rehearsing a play. At the time, the university said the policy would prevent such incidents.

But students said, and the university agreed, that the policy was the wrong approach. Brandon Sanders, a senior who is studying acting, said, “A bright green–colored vest is not gonna change the color of my skin, and my skin is black.”

Berkeley Fires Women’s Swim Coach for Bullying and Bias

The University of California, Berkeley, fired Teri McKeever, its women’s swimming coach on Tuesday, the Southern California News Group reported.

The university, which interviewed 147 people and reviewed 1,700 documents, found “by a preponderance of the evidence that Coach McKeever discriminated against certain student-athletes, in certain instances, on the basis of race, national origin and disability.” The coach also engaged in bullying, a report said.

McKeever is the most successful and famous female coach in swimming history.

Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton on Tuesday released an open letter to swimmers, saying in part, “I was disturbed by what I learned in the course of reading through the report’s 482 pages that substantiate far too many allegations of unacceptable behavior. I want to apologize, on behalf of Cal Athletics, to every student-athlete who was subject to this conduct in the past, and I want to thank everyone who had the courage to come forward and share their story with the investigators.”

McKeever told the investigators that she was a victim of a double standard applied to women in jobs formerly held only by men.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever’s statement said. “There were and should be consequences for violating team rules, not showing up for scheduled appointments, misusing resources, not giving an honest effort and behavior that was not congruent with their individual or our team goals.”

DeSantis Proposes Limits on Higher Ed ‘Indoctrination’

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said Tuesday that he would ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the state’s university system.

He also said that he would require “civics institutes” at the University of Florida, Florida International University and Florida State University. The institutes would develop courses and curricula “that can be used to educate the next generation on the values of liberty and constitutionalism.”

And he said he would change faculty hiring in a way that presidents would be “reestablishing their authority over the hiring process.”

The Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis’s aides distributed a copy of a flier that said the changes and others would promote “education not indoctrination.” He also proposed changes in standards and course content “to ensure higher education is rooted in the values of liberty and Western tradition.” His plan would require colleges to “prioritize graduating students with degrees that lead to high-wage jobs, not degrees designed to further a political agenda.”

Man Who Threatened UCLA Is Found Unfit for Trial

A former postdoc at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was charged last year with sending an 803-page manifesto in which he threatened a mass shooting at UCLA as well as killing individual faculty members has been found by a judge to not be capable of standing trial, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Matthew Harris is “presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him incompetent to proceed,” wrote the judge.

The judge ordered that Harris be hospitalized. The judge also requested updates on his condition and whether he might be well enough in the future to stand trial.

Alleged Abuse by Harvard Women’s Hockey Coach

Katey Stone, for more than 25 years the head coach of the women’s hockey team at Harvard University, has created a “culture of complete fear” and lost 14 recruited players since 2016, including three this season, The Boston Globe reported.

The article describes many incidents with Stone, including her interrupting for “an outburst that witnesses described as degrading and dispiriting, Stone accused the players she had recruited of showing her too little respect and devolving into a collection of skaters ‘with too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’” She had two Native American women on the team.

Stone also is insensitive to mental health issues, the article said. One former team leader said that when her coach learned she was receiving mental health care, she said, “You need to toughen up and not be a burden to your teammates.”

Several players also said she downplayed the significance of concussions.

Stone and Harvard both declined to comment. Stone, in a letter emailed to her current team after being contacted by the Globe about the story, wrote, “This year, I have made it a priority to acknowledge and respond to direct feedback from the women in my program about my coaching style, and make a concerted effort to better support my players’ experiences.”

More Quit ‘U.S. News’ Rankings of Medical, Law Schools

More medical and law schools have announced that they are leaving the U.S. News & World Report rankings of those institutions.

The medical schools of Cornell University and the University of Chicago are the latest to join the movement. Harvard University kicked off the effort this month, and it was quickly joined by the medical schools of Columbia and Stanford Universities and the University of Pennsylvania and the Icahn medical school of Mount Sinai.

On Thursday, Francis Lee, interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, announced that it would join. He said, “Critically, the rankings measure more about the students who enter the school than about the physicians who graduate, or about the actual substance and quality of the medical education we provide along the way. The volatility of the rankings, and the lack of transparency about the formulas and algorithms upon which they are based, also speak to the inadequacy of this annual survey.”

At the University of Chicago, the leaders of the medical school announced the change in a memo to students and faculty members, The Chicago Tribune reported.

They said, “Our overriding concern is to help address and reduce inequities in medical school education.”

Mark Anderson, medical school dean, and Vineet Arora, dean for medical education of the biological sciences division and Pritzker School of Medicine, said, “This decision is based on our judgment that the current methodology raises deep concerns about inequity perpetuated by the misuse of metrics that fail to capture the quality or outcomes of medical education for those who most need these data: applicants to medical school.”

Meanwhile, the law schools at Gonzaga University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison announced that they will not participate in the law school rankings.

Wisconsin dean Dan Tokaji said, “The ranking contravenes UW Law’s mission of providing an outstanding legal education at an accessible price so our graduates can pursue any career path they choose” and “The ranking undermines UW Law’s core value of equal access to the legal profession by penalizing schools in states that allow licensure without the bar exam.”

Teachers Strike at UCLA Lab School

Teachers went on strike for two days, starting Wednesday, at the University of California Lab School, which the Los Angeles Times described as “an elite pre-K-through-sixth-grade school nestled in a quiet corner of the UCLA campus,” which “has offered a nurturing environment for students whose parents won a coveted spot for their child.”

The school is run by UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. Students are selected for admission, and tuition is up to $25,000, with about a third of students on financial aid.

The strike is over working conditions.

“We have a leadership that does not seem to be concerned about the mission and vision of the school … and very little understanding of the culture of the lab school, who we are and what we represent,” said Rebecca Heneise, a dual-language demonstration teacher at the lab school.

The faculty, who are members of the University Council–American Federation of Teachers, say that UCLA management has violated their rights to bargain by delaying the process and denying them the right to negotiate a side letter that includes working conditions specific to the needs of a lab school.

The university declined to comment on the negotiations. “We value the work of our UCLA Lab School Demonstration Teachers represented by UC-AFT. UCLA is negotiating in good faith with the union, and we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon,” the university said in a statement.

Hamline Faculty Calls on President to Step Down

Hamline University’s full-time faculty members voted 71 to 12 on Monday to call for the resignation of President Fayneese Miller, The Pioneer Press reported.

Miller’s administration called it “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic” and “an act of intolerance” for an adjunct professor, Erika López Prater, to have shown an image of Muhammad in class in the fall. López Prater subsequently did not get rehired for the spring semester. Academic freedom advocates have criticized Miller and have noted that López Prater warned her students about what she was going to do.

“We are distressed that members of the administration have mishandled this issue and great harm has been done to the reputation of Minnesota’s oldest university,” said a statement the faculty adopted. “As we no longer have faith in President Miller’s ability to lead the university forward, we call upon her to immediately tender her resignation to the Hamline University Board of Trustees.”

A Hamline spokesman said Miller was discussing with her team how to respond.

In a joint statement Jan. 17 with the chair of Hamline’s Board of Trustees, Miller said “sometimes we misstep” and that it was “flawed” to have used the word “Islamophobic” to describe the incident. The statement came out the same day López Prater sued the university.


Back to Top