Higher Education Quick Takes
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."
Western Washington University canceled classes on Tuesday in response to online hate speech that university President Bruce Shepard said targeted students of color. In a statement announcing the cancellation, Shepard said the threats were not "merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy-nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech." Shepard said the people behind the hate speech had not been identified, and that the campus remained open during the law enforcement investigation.
Since becoming president in 2008, Shepard has used public speaking appearances to stress the need for the university to recruit faculty members, students and staffers of color. "I said before and I’ll say it again: if we -- the faculty and staff, student body, president and administration -- if we 10 years from now are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university and our commitment to meet the critical needs of our state," he said during the 2012 opening convocation. Last year, the university surveyed the campus on ways that "we make sure that in future years 'we are not as white as we are today,'" according to Campus Reform.
The operator of FastTrain -- a defunct Miami-based for-profit college -- was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday on 12 counts of theft of government money and one count of conspiracy, according to The Miami Herald.
Alejandro Amor, the operator, will be sentenced in February. Former FastTrain employees testified that Amor coached the staff on how to forge signatures and halted an internal investigation into improprieties at the college.
The seven-campus chain closed in 2012, but gained notoriety after federal prosecutors accused the for-profit of submitting fraudulent financial aid claims for 1,300 students, many of whom did not hold legitimate high school diplomas. The college was also accused of hiring former strippers to work as recruiters.
Authorities in South Korea plan to indict about 200 professors in a scheme in which they are alleged to have republished other people's textbooks by simply putting a new cover and their names on the work of other scholars, The Korea Herald reported. Many of the professors have already admitted to these copyright violations, and they could face dismissal from their universities. Publishers are alleged to have looked the other way or even encouraged the practice.
Gonzaga University School of Law has offered buyouts to all 17 of its tenured faculty members following a 28 percent dip in enrollment since 2011, Inlander and Above the Law reported. Like many other law schools, the institution’s applicant pool has decreased, in Gonzaga's case by more than one-third since 2011. Rather than drastically change its admissions criteria, Gonzaga chose to shrink enrollment, at the expense of its budget.
Four of 17 faculty members have accepted the buyout, and no more are expected to. Dean Jane Korn told Inlander, “Every dean had to make a decision to lower standards or take a budget hit, and we decided to take the budget hit. … We did this to avoid problems in the future.” Gonzaga is staffed for about 175 students per class, Korn said, but enrollment was just 125 in 2014.
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.
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.
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."
DENVER -- The board of the Middle East Studies Association issued a statement on Monday condemning “the increasing frequency and intensity of violent acts against civilians taking place in countries around the world” and expressing alarm “at the related rise in the stereotyping and vilification of people of Middle East or Muslim background.”
"We urge, therefore, those with responsibility for United States policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world to avail themselves of the insights of scholarship as they seek to understand the background of these violent acts and to frame responses to them," the statement says.
The full statement, issued during the association’s annual business meeting, is available here. MESA members did not introduce any other new business at that meeting.