Curtin University, in Australia, is defending itself against criticism of an honorary degree awarded Friday to Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, AFP reported. The university says that the degree honored important work for early-childhood education. But critics say that Mansor is known for her expensive shopping, which is perceived as insensitive to the poverty faced by many people in her country. Following numerous critical postings about the honor on the university's Facebook page, officials blocked new comments.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Sudanese police raided the University of Khartoum Friday morning and arrested hundreds of students, Reuters reported. The university was closed two months ago, following protests, but many students have remained on the campus, waiting for operations to resume.
Texas universities have not generally embraced the national movement to ban smoking on campuses. But The New York Times reported that recently adopted rules by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas may change that. The institute is requiring that grant recipients have policies barring tobacco use in buildings and areas where sponsored research takes place -- and some universities that want grants from the center are now thinking about tougher policies on smoking on campus.
The New York City Police Department not only monitored Muslim student groups at colleges in New York City, but tracked them at colleges outside city limits, the Associated Press reported. Police officers took steps to monitor students at colleges including the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, went on a whitewater rafting trip to meet some students, and talked to authorities in Buffalo about a professor.
A federal jury on Friday awarded more than $1 million to three women who sued Alabama State University, charging their supervisor there with various forms of harassment, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. A supervisor -- who was black -- repeatedly used the word "nigger" in interacting with the three plaintiffs, two black women and one biracial woman, the suit charged. The supervisor also was accused of referring to one of the women as a "white bitch," and of suggesting that she strip to show how many tattoos she has on her body. The university is considering an appeal.
The colleges in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I voted last week to uphold their ability to award multiyear scholarships to athletes, narrowly rejecting an effort by some of the division's members to block such grants. The multiyear scholarship rule was one of several that the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors approved in a burst of legislative activity last fall aimed at quelling concerns about rule breaking and about the association's treatment of athletes -- and one of two rules that significant numbers of Division I members sought to block because of concerns that they would favor wealthier programs and conflict with how most institutional financial aid is awarded, among other reasons. The NCAA's governance process provides a mechanism in which the division's members can formally vote to override decisions by the Division I board.
Last week's vote on the multiyear scholarship rule would have required a five-eighths majority of Division I members to block it from taking effect. But only 205 of the 330 participating colleges and conferences -- two short of the 207 needed -- opposed the scholarship plan. Twenty-five institutions and leagues did not vote. "I am pleased that student-athletes will continue to benefit from the ability of institutions to offer athletics aid for more than one year," said the NCAA's president, Mark Emmert. "But it's clear that there are significant portions of the membership with legitimate concerns. As we continue to examine implementation of the rule, we want to work with the membership to address those concerns."
Fifty-nine percent of faculty members at the University of California at Davis voted to approve a resolution that they have confidence in the leadership of Linda P.B. Katehi as chancellor, The Sacramento Bee reported. The same resolution also expressed criticism of the university's use of pepper spray against nonviolent student protesters last year -- a move that galvanized campus critics of the chancellor. By a wider margin (with 69 percent voting no), faculty members rejected a resolution of no confidence in Katehi. The Bee noted that some faculty views on Katehi are not based on the pepper spray incident. Generally, her decisions as chancellor are seen as benefiting those in the sciences, and she has stronger support there than in the humanities.
Maryland's higher education system is among the country's strongest in college attainment and productivity, but is leaving the state's minority and low-income populations behind, a report from a research center at the University of Pennsylvania states. The report, from Penn's Institute for Research on Higher Education, is the third in a series of five examining higher education performance and governance in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Washington.
Dozens of students at Kean University walked out of class Thursday and marched to protest the decision of the institution's board to keep Dawood Farahi as president even though several of his résumés contained inaccuracies, The Star-Ledger reported. Students said that they were outraged that the board did not see the issue as one over which a president should be dismissed. A board statement said that trustees were concerned, but that they saw the issue as an old one, and not sufficient to end what they consider to be a successful presidency.