The University of California at Berkeley announced Friday that Claude Steele would be stepping down as provost and joining the faculty of the psychology department. Steele became provost in 2014 and his tenure has been controversial at times, with some faculty members and others questioning whether he was sufficiently communicative and whether he was strong enough in acting against those accused of sexual harassment. The Berkeley announcement made no mention of those issues, and said that Steele was stepping down because his wife is facing serious health issues.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Loyola University Chicago is investigating charges of improper treatment of members of the women's basketball team by its head coach, Sheryl Swoopes (right), the Associated Press reported. The allegations have not been made public, but the investigation follows moves by 10 of the 12 players who were expected to return for another year to either transfer or be released from scholarships. Swoopes is cooperating with the investigation.
Two students at Tuskegee University were shot early Saturday and are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, AL.com reported. Another Tuskegee student has been charged with attempted murder and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle.
The University of Birmingham, in Britain, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last week announced an unusual postdoc research program. The postdocs will work on one of six "global challenges" involving issues such as brain trauma, computational genomics and diversity in education. The first and third years of the postdocs will be spent at Birmingham and the second year at Illinois.
The University of California will pay $4.75 million to the family of a UC Berkeley football player who died after a strenuous training drill in 2014. As part of the settlement, the university will also review workout and conditioning plans, provide education on sickle cell trait to players and staff, and ban "high-risk physical activity" as punishment. Berkeley previously admitted negligence in the player's death.
Earlier this year, the University of Rhode Island settled a similar lawsuit with the family of a baseball player who died during a team workout in 2011.
Five students at Clemson University were arrested Thursday evening after they refused to end a sit-in in a campus building that has a closing time of 5:30 p.m., WYFF News reported. The students are part of a larger movement that has demanded that Clemson do more to recruit minority students and faculty members and make the campus more inclusive. The student demands state that the university's responses to racial incidents have been insufficient. The university pledged Thursday to do more to recruit and support minority students, but the protesters call those pledges inadequate.
A transgender adjunct professor of English is suing Saginaw Valley State University for sex discrimination for allegedly taking away her administrative position after she began presenting as a woman. According to the suit, filed this month in a Michigan federal court, Charin Davenport has taught at the university since 2007, when she was still presenting as a man. She took on a second, part-time job as coordinator of academic tutoring services in 2011 and was named assistant director of academic programs support in 2012, reporting to Ann Coburn-Collins, director of academic programs support.
Davenport received strong performance reviews, the suit says, until 2013, when she informed the university that she was undergoing a gender transition and intended to dress as a woman from then on. She asked her colleagues for support, but Coburn-Collins made negative comments and told Davenport that she must have had too much free time on her hands, according to the suit.
Coburn-Collins stopped talking to Davenport and two months later informed her that her administrative job was being eliminated for budgetary reasons, the complaint says. When Davenport tried to talk to her former supervisor about what had happened, Coburn-Collins allegedly called her a liar and threw an unspecified object at her, and said that Davenport disgusted her.
Davenport says she lost the job in retaliation for her transition, not budgetary reasons, as stated, and she is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and lost wages. Neither Coburn-Collins nor a Saginaw Valley State spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment, but the university told The Daily Beast, “We are aware of the lawsuit and we are confident that we will prevail in court, as all the facts come out. SVSU does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. … We support all our students, faculty and staff, including those who are members of the LGBT community. We have a Pride Center on campus to serve those individuals and to contribute toward an inclusive campus environment.”
College students are largely dissatisfied with their campus bookstores -- particularly with their prices, according to a study commissioned by bookstore service provider Akademos. The survey of 1,000 students at two- and four-year institutions found that 89 percent of respondents take the price tag into account when shopping for textbooks, and that 55 percent say prices as their college bookstores are too high. As a result, nearly half of the surveyed students (44 percent) said they never shop at the campus bookstore, choosing online vendors such as Amazon (49 percent) instead.
The main association of for-profit colleges in Washington on Thursday asked Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule that is aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges.
Steve Gunderson, the president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asked King to delay any penalties for colleges under the rule for one year.
Gunderson said in a letter that the debt-to-earnings ratios by which colleges are judged under the regulation do not accurately capture students’ long-term earnings. He cited recent studies that he said make clear that “recent graduates face significant challenges in finding work related to the value of their degrees.”
The Obama administration on Thursday didn’t provide any indication that it would be willing to entertain the for-profit college group’s request to delay one of its signature higher education policy achievements.
“We’ve received APSCU’s letter and will respond soon, but students and taxpayers deserve not to wait any longer for these commonsense protections,” said Kelly S. Leon, a department spokeswoman.
A federal appeals court earlier this year rejected the for-profit college group’s legal challenge to the administration’s regulations, which took effect last July.