Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

Some students and faculty members at Scripps College objected to the choice of Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, as commencement speaker. They criticized her for questioning women who are not backing Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and for supporting sanctions against Iraq that led to civilian deaths. Albright didn't waver on appearing and scheduled meetings with students and others before commencement so she could hear directly from them. In her commencement speech, Albright recognized the criticism she has received, playing on the language she had used about a "special place in hell" for women not backing Clinton to say that "there is a special place in heaven for anyone who speaks truth to power."

She also extolled the value of being open-minded. "The key to further education is not to put aside what we think we know, but to employ that knowledge as a platform for learning more," she said. "This means that we should use our opinions to start discussions, not to end them. It means that we should always leave a little room in our brains for ideas that we have not thought about before."

The Los Angeles Times reported that Albright received a standing ovation.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

The White House announced a new initiative and increased research funding for the study of microbiomes, communities of micro-organisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans and the atmosphere -- and that can have a positive impact or, when dysfunctional, a negative one. Federal agencies will coordinate research programs to promote interdisciplinary research agendas by researchers. In addition, several private organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are creating programs to support such research. The University of California at San Diego and the University of Michigan also announced programs. An article last year in The Atlantic outlined why many scientists see this type of effort as crucial.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

Andover Newton Theological School, the oldest theological school and graduate institution in the United States, announced last week that it will form a partnership with the Yale University Divinity School. Andover Newton, located outside of Boston, has faced financial challenges, and many theological schools have struggled to make their programs affordable. Andover Newton will continue to provide some instruction in Massachusetts but will start the process of relocating to Yale's New Haven, Conn., home while finishing negotiations on plans to become part of the divinity school there, as a unit to be called Andover Newton at Yale. Officials said the combination would help both institutions offer more aid to students with financial need.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

San Francisco State University has reached an agreement with its embattled College of Ethnic Studies. The college, the only one of its kind in the country, has said it is chronically underfunded, to the point that it can barely sustain operations beyond paying full-time personnel. Facing student protests, President Les Wong said the college was overspending.

The agreement, reached late last week between the university and student hunger strikers, says that central administration will make an additional $482,806 investment in the college, in addition to an earlier $250,000 additional commitment for next academic year. That’s upward of the approximately $500,000 faculty members at the college estimated they needed to close their budget gap earlier this year. The investment includes support for two full-time, tenure-track faculty lines in Africana studies, four work-study positions and the development of a Pacific Islander studies program. The agreement also provides for more regular communication between the college and the university about funding and other needs. All parties have agreed to a silent period through the end of the year.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

Thousands of Chinese parents joined demonstrations in the capital cities of Hubei and Jiangsu provinces on Saturday to protest changes in university admission policies that they say will make it more difficult for their children to gain spots in local universities, the South China Morning Post reported.

They were protesting a plan, announced earlier this month by the Ministry of Education and the National Development and Reform Commission, requiring universities in 14 developed provinces, including Hubei and Jiangsu, as well as major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, to admit 210,000 students from poorer inland provinces. The plan calls on universities in Hubei and Jiangsu to set aside nearly 80,000 slots for nonlocal students.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the end of the semester is marked by performances of the President’s Garage Band, including President Mark D. Gearan (keyboard) and many faculty and staff members, including Bill Waller, an economics professor (trumpet); Mark Deutschlander, a biology professor (guitar); Rob Carson, an English professor (guitar); and many others. Below, the band performing "Sweet Caroline" last week.

Monday, May 16, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, James Cook, professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, describes how a new technique for repairing ACLs could lead to a more active lifestyle for those who tear the knee ligaments.

Friday, May 13, 2016 - 3:00am

Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich resigned Thursday following allegations that the state agency he headed misled lawmakers who were seeking to change state college and university funding formulas.

Klaich submitted his resignation at a special meeting of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The meeting was called after the Review-Journal wrote about emails obtained under a public records law, saying they indicated the Nevada System of Higher Education -- which oversees the state's public colleges and universities -- misled lawmakers studying state higher education support in 2011 and 2012. Klaich said he was resigning to avoid becoming a distraction but that the emails were taken out of context. The Board of Regents approved an agreement including no admission of wrongdoing that will allow Klaich to keep his pay through June 2017, which includes a base salary of $303,000 plus automobile and housing allowances.

Friday, May 13, 2016 - 4:13am

The Obama administration is today planning to tell all school districts that they must provide transgender students with access to bathrooms that reflect their gender identities, The New York Times reported. While the message is going out to school districts, a statement that will accompany the message suggests that it applies to higher education as well. “No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said the statement from John B. King Jr., the secretary of education. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

Friday, May 13, 2016 - 3:00am

Green River College administrators sent a notice to faculty members Wednesday saying that 11 academic programs could be eliminated in order to close an up to $4.5 million budget deficit.

Faculty members have voted no confidence in the college's president twice, and once for the Board of Trustees. The programs that could be eliminated include design drafting, German, French, geography, occupational therapy assistant and Montessori early childhood education. 

According to the Kent Reporter, the proposed cuts would save about $1.2 million. Five tenured faculty, one tenure-track faculty member and a program director would be directly affected. However if their programs are cut, faculty members could teach other courses at the college.

Students, faculty and staff already staged a walkout last month over how the college has been run.

In President Eileen Ely's notice, she stated that she will consider any recommendations and alternatives from faculty members until June 10.

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