Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 1, 2022

Mills College officially becomes part of Northeastern University today. The merger was first announced last June, and it was opposed by some students and faculty at Mills. Current Mills students can graduate from Mills or transfer to Northeastern at no expense. Mills, historically a women’s college, will become “gender inclusive.”

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, and Elizabeth L. Hillman, president of what will now be called Mills College at Northeastern, sent a joint message to all students and faculty members on Thursday. “We will begin this shared work by creating innovative undergraduate and graduate degree programs and lifelong learning opportunities. The programs will leverage the strengths of both institutions to prepare students to lead lives of fulfillment and accomplishment. Together, we’ll create a future that honors Mills’ values and ensures that the experiences of our students are rich in learning, discovery, and impact,” they said.

Aoun and Hillman added, “An enduring, focal point for this transformative impact will be the Mills Institute. Building on the legacy of Mills College, the Mills Institute will drive world-class thought leadership and innovative educational approaches at the intersection of gender and racial justice, technology, and globalization.”

July 1, 2022

Curry College, in Massachusetts, has fired an employee linked to hateful graffiti found on campus this year, WHDH News reported.

Curry students found more than a dozen swastikas and racist graffiti in dorm bathrooms, laundry rooms and other areas on campus. One message specifically targeted Black students and mentioned a date in February. College officials ordered remote learning on several dates and offered a $10,000 reward for information.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Milton police determined that one person was likely behind the racist vandalism and identified a person of interest. The college then conducted its own internal investigation and fired an employee. But college rules mean the employee was not identified.

July 1, 2022

The board of the Virginia Community College System agreed Wednesday to add a representative of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration to the search committee for a new chancellor. The move came after Youngkin told board members to include his administration in the search process or resign, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Youngkin has been pushing to be involved in the search for several months.

“If for any reason you feel like you cannot commit to this mission, I will accept your resignation by June 30 with gratitude for your service,” Youngkin wrote in a letter to the State Board for Community Colleges two weeks ago.

“We are committed to working with the governor and his team on the search for the new chancellor who will lead Virginia’s community colleges in the coming years, and we will work to ensure that our programs remain affordable to all Virginians,” Douglas Garcia, incoming chair of the board and head of the search committee, said in a statement.

Democratic state policy makers have accused Youngkin of unnecessarily meddling in the community college system and flouting traditional governance practices in the state.

Meanwhile, the search process thus far has been fraught. Candidate Anne Holton, interim president at George Mason University and a former Virginia first lady and secretary of education, removed her name from consideration, according to the Times-Dispatch. Youngkin then asked the board to restart the hiring process, but the board continued its search and chose Russell A. Kavalhuna, the president of Henry Ford College in Michigan, as the new chancellor two weeks later. However, Kavalhuna ultimately chose not to take the job for undisclosed reasons last month.

The current chancellor, Glenn DuBois, is retiring this week.

July 1, 2022

A federal judge sentenced Ali Khosroshahin, a former soccer coach at the University of Southern California, to six months of home confinement after he cooperated with authorities investigating the college admissions scandal, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors did not seek home confinement or prison time for Khosroshahin, citing his acceptance of responsibility and help in prosecuting others.

But U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said that prosecutors’ recommendation of time served wasn’t enough, noting that Khosroshahin lured his assistant coach into the corrupt scheme.

July 1, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Wiki Education Week: Diana Ceballos, assistant professor in the department of environmental health at Boston University, explores how to teach students to get information out in the right way. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


June 30, 2022

Florida’s Stop WOKE Act—which aims to bar the teaching of “divisive concepts”—survived a legal challenge Monday that sought to prevent the controversial law from going into effect tomorrow.

The measure, passed earlier this year, aims to crack down on subjects such as critical race theory, a once-obscure academic concept that is not taught in public K-12 schools yet now looms large as a conservative bogeyman. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has claimed the law protects residents from “discrimination and woke indoctrination.”

A U.S. District Court judge mostly denied a request for a preliminary injunction brought by a group of plaintiffs, stating that they lacked standing, though the judge ordered attorneys for one plaintiff to submit additional legal briefs, according to Jacksonville.com. The plaintiffs deemed to lack legal standing included teachers, a student and a consulting firm. A challenge to the law from Robert Cassanello, a history professor at the University of Central Florida, remains.

A nonprofit organization known as Protect Democracy filed another lawsuit against the legislation earlier this month, according to The Hill. That lawsuit argues that the Stop WOKE Act violates both the First and 14th Amendment rights of Floridians.

June 30, 2022

Two parents and a former coach will avoid jail time in the Varsity Blues admissions scandal because they cooperated with prosecutors, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A California couple who admitted to paying $600,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, were sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to complete 250 service hours. Bruce Isackson must pay a $7,500 fine, and Davina Isackson must pay a $1,000 fine.

Prosecutors didn’t ask for prison time, saying their “acceptance of responsibility for their conduct was unstinting, their remorse sincere.”

Laura Janke, a former assistant soccer coach at the University of Southern California, was sentenced to time served and 50 hours of community service. Prosecutors credited her “extensive and valuable” cooperation in the investigation despite her “egregious” conduct. She created fake athletic profiles for some of the parents in the scandal.

June 30, 2022

The Orlando Museum of Art has a new director, in part because the old director sent an insulting email to an academic, The New York Times reported.

Aaron De Groft was removed from the post amid an FBI investigation of 25 works that had been attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat and had been on display at the museum but whose authenticity has been called into question. The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the artworks.

De Groft did not respond to requests for comment.

The museum hired an expert, identified by the Times as Jordana Moore Saggese, an associate professor of art at the University of Maryland at College Park. Saggese was paid $60,000 for her written report. She contacted the museum and asked that her name not be associated with the exhibition. At that point, De Groft sent her an email disparaging her.

“You want us to put out there you got $60 grand to write this?” De Groft wrote. “OK then. Shut up. You took the money. Stop being holier than thou … Do your academic thing and stay in your limited lane.”

June 30, 2022

Saint Augustine’s University, a historically Black institution in Raleigh, N.C., is expanding its outreach to community college students in Fresno, Calif., through a new transfer pathway, university leaders announced Wednesday.

Participating community college graduates who earned an associate degree in a field offered at Saint Augustine will be guaranteed admission to the HBCU and are eligible for a Community College Transfer Grant of $8,945 per year. The grant will be automatically renewed for one academic year if the student maintains a GPA of 2.8 or above.

The new transfer option is an effort by the HBCU Urban Access Hub, an initiative to partner with community colleges across the country located in areas that don’t have HBCUs and create pipelines to Saint Augustine.

“Expanding to Fresno, California, makes sense,” Christine Johnson McPhail, president of Saint Augustine’s University, said in a press release. “I consider Fresno my second home. I graduated from Fresno City College and Fresno State University. So, this is my way of giving back to a place that has given me so much.”

The university plans to hold an information session in Fresno on July 1, open to rising seniors, community college transfers and recent graduates and older adult learners. Eligible students have an opportunity to be accepted to the university on-site at the event, provided they bring their transcripts and meet the minimum requirements.

June 30, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Wiki Education Week: Matthew Vetter, associate professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, discusses the benefits of using Wikipedia in the classroom. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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