Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Connecticut College called off classes Monday to discuss the campus climate in the wake of recent incidents. The schedule for the day included both unstructured time and periods for students to gather to talk in groups large and small with themselves, faculty members and senior administrators. The campus has for a month been debating a Facebook post by a professor that has been criticized as hate speech against Palestinians by some and defended as a political critique of Hamas by others. Then racist graffiti appeared on campus, setting the stage for Monday's programs.

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Both Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities saw campus Internet connectivity suffer this weekend as the institutions came under distributed denial-of-service attacks, NJ.com reported. Such attacks can slow a website to a crawl or crash it completely by directing large amounts of web traffic to one site. By Monday morning, Rutgers tweeted that "I.T. staff are working around the clock to fix server and email disruption."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 4:24am

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Monday announced a settlement with the National Junior College Athletic Association under which the NJCAA agreed to end a rule limiting eligibility to students who attended high school in the United States for at least three years. Schneiderman's announcement said that community colleges in New York State had raised concern that the rule discriminated against some of their immigrant students, prompting an investigation by his office. The agreement was praised by Frank Sanchez, the City University of New York's vice chancellor for student affairs, who said said, "These rule changes will provide undocumented students access to the full array of CUNY programs and activities that make up our distinctive collegiate experience, including intercollegiate athletics." 

A statement by the NJCAA made no mention of the legal pressure from New York State. The statement said that the group's board decided to repeal the rule because it was "inconsistent with the association’s mission and detracts from the organization’s goal of promoting healthy and fair competition."
 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The Rhodes Scholarship Program will soon expand to China, The New York Times reported. The article noted that the expansion reflects a push by many of the world's top universities to recruit talent in China, and also a desire by many of those universities (and the Rhodes scholarships) to raise money in the country.

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jaime Cloud, an evolutionary psychologist at Western Oregon University, profiles human mating psychology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Harper College, in Illinois, on Sunday unveiled a program to provide two years of free tuition to high school graduates in its district. The program has some requirements: students may miss only limited numbers of days in high school, must graduate on time and must perform community service. But while some free community college programs have been proposed or enacted only for top students, the Harper one is broader. Students must have a 2.3 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). Once in college, they would be required to stay on track to graduate, to perform community service and to earn minimum grade levels -- rising from a 2.2 in the first semester to a 2.5 by the fourth semester, with no grades of D or F. The program requirements are explained here.

Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

An article in The Washington Post explores how a student who is eligible for state and federal student aid can fall through the cracks. The student was ordered to move out of Towson University and go home because he hadn't turned in what he owed and a state agency had failed to provide the funds to which he was entitled. The story documents how no one at Towson or the state agency found a way to get the matter settled before he was sent home.

 

 

Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

The College of DuPage has paid a member of its foundation board $630,000 to design and install signs over the last four years without ever receiving a competitive bid for the work, The Chicago Tribune reported. Further, The Tribune found that the contracts reference the work of Carla Burkhart, the board member, as an architect, but she isn't one and her company doesn't offer architecture services. Burkhart has denied any wrongdoing. After receiving questions from The Tribune, the college's board chair ordered a review of contracts. According to documents obtained by The Tribune, 10 of the foundation's 22 board members work for companies with financial ties to the College of DuPage.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015 - 4:30am

Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University, and his wife, Deborah, have moved out of the presidential home after she fell and broke a foot while dodging a bat. While removal of bats from the home is not controversial, many students and faculty members are angry that the university's foundation is now talking about spending $1.2 million to buy a new home for the president, rather than simply getting the bats removed from the current home, The Athens News reported. Foundation officials said that purchasing a new home would help not only the current president, but future presidents. But critics say that there are so many unmet needs on campus that affect students and professors that spending $1.2 million in this way is inappropriate. A "bat rally" is planned for tomorrow, and is being promoted on Facebook with the image at right.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

The presidents of three universities in Indiana issued statements over the weekend criticizing Indiana's new "religious freedom" law, which state lawmakers say is needed to protect religious freedom but is viewed by many as license for businesses to discriminate against L.G.B.T. people. The legislation says that the government cannot "burden" private entities with policies that clash with individual views of religious obligations.

On Sunday evening, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie issued a statement that said in part: "The recent passage of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act has brought significant negative attention to the state of Indiana throughout the nation and indeed the world, because the law is widely viewed as signaling an unwelcoming and discriminatory atmosphere in our state. While Indiana University hopes that the controversy of the past few days will move the state government to reconsider this unnecessary legislation, the damage already done to Indiana’s reputation is such that all public officials and public institutions in our state need to reaffirm our absolute commitment to the Hoosier values of fair treatment and nondiscrimination."

Butler University President James Danko issued a statement that reaffirmed the university's anti-bias commitment and that called the new law "ill-conceived legislation at best."

DePauw University President Brian Casey issued a statement in which he said that he normally strives not to comment on political issues, and that he wants all sides of issues to be debated at the university. But he added: "Legislation that has the effect of either encouraging or condoning discrimination, however, must be addressed. I join with other Indiana corporations, leaders in industry and institutions of higher education and urge the governor and the legislature to take all steps necessary to address the harm this legislation has caused."

A spokesman for Purdue University said that, consistent with policy there not to take part in such public policy debates, President Mitch Daniels will not make a statement on the law.

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