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Higher Education Quick Takes
A new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders documents again that many college students think about suicide and also identifies key risk factors that may assist with prevention efforts. The findings are based on a study of more than 1,000 students at the University of Maryland at College Park who were tracked over four years. Of the 1,085 students, 151 (12 percent) said they had pondered committing suicide at least once -- with 37 saying they did so repeatedly, 10 saying that they had made plans or carried out full-fledged attempts during college. Lack of social support was identified as a key factor in predicting persistent suicidal thoughts. Other risk factors: depressive symptoms, exposure to domestic violence in childhood and having a mother suffering from depression.
The University of California is disputing the claims of Jewish organizations and leaders that there is a notable increase in anti-Semitism on the system's campuses, the Los Angeles Times reported. A recent letter to the university said that an increasing number of incidents requires a specific focus on preventing anti-Semitism. University officials have acknowledged (and condemned) a number of incidents, but disagree about the extent of the problem. In a response released Tuesday, Mark Yudof, the president, said he was disturbed by the incidents and would "do everything in my power to protect Jewish and all other students from threats or actions of intolerance." But he also said that the letter overstated the problem and the degree of concern of many Jewish students, and called the letter sent to the university "a dishearteningly ill-informed rush to judgment against our ongoing responses to troubling incidents that have taken place on some of our campuses."
The community college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has placed the four campuses of the Peralta Community College District on probation, citing concerns about the "fiscal solvency and stability" of the two-year institutions, the Contra Costa Times reported. The newspaper said that the letter from the head of WASC's Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges raised concerns about meddling by trustees and other leadership issues as well as financial problems in citing the four Peralta colleges: Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College. In addition to the actions involving Peralta, the accreditor placed Northern Marianas College on "show cause" status, one step short of stripping its accreditation.
Dana College's board members -- backed by Nebraska leaders -- are trying to keep the college alive by finding a way to get its accreditor to let the accreditation transfer if private investors buy the institution, The Omaha World-Herald reported. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools rejected that idea last week, leading the investors to say that they would not purchase the college and the college to announce that it would close.
The University of Georgia announced the resignation of Damon Evans as athletics director Monday, following days of speculation over whether he could keep his job after being arrested Wednesday for driving under the influence. Evans initially tried to keep his job and made a public apology. But university officials acted after more details came out about the arrest, particularly embarrassing as Georgia has faced a series of scandals over the years because of the behavior of athletes. Among the details reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When it became clear that Evans was going to be arrested, he told an officer, "I am not trying to bribe you but I'm the athletic director of the University of Georgia." In addition, when stopped, Evans had between his legs the underwear of a woman who was in the car (who was not his wife, and who was arrested for disorderly conduct).
Michigan State University is shutting down its undergraduate campus in Dubai, saying that it has lost millions of dollars on the effort while failing to attract enough students to make the program sustainable, The National reported. A small master's program will be maintained. Only about 100 undergraduates are enrolled, and Michigan State officials said that their financial plans had assumed larger enrollments.
Terry Denbow, vice president for university relations at Michigan State, told Inside Higher Ed vie e-mail that the university was indeed changing its goals for Dubai. "Our strategic approach is to sharpen our focus in the region and streamline operations in the face of recent and very dramatic worldwide economic challenges. We’ll focus on executive development programs, study abroad, graduate education, research and consulting services, and seek new academic opportunities in Dubai, the UAE, and the region," he said. "We have embarked upon the formal processes needed to shift undergraduate programs there to East Lansing with a seamless transition."
Lincoln Land Community College has agreed to upgrade its softball facilities to settle a complaint filed with the U.S. Education Department under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination based on sex, The State Journal-Register, of Springfield, Ill., reported. An Education Department inquiry rejected some charges against the college with regard to the treatment of female athletes, but found that there were illegal inequities in facilities.
Mike Adams, a conservative, Christian professor who believes his promotion to full professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington was derailed because of opposition to his views, is getting broad backing on a key point in his legal fight. In a decision in March, a federal judge -- citing a controversial Supreme Court ruling about public employees -- said that newspaper columns that Adams wrote were not protected by the First Amendment (in terms of his case) because he included them in his tenure dossier. Adams has been receiving support from the Alliance Defense Fund. On Friday, several groups that have not weighed in on the merits of Adams' promotion bid filed a brief backing his appeal, saying that the finding that the contents of a tenure file lacked academic freedom protection was a dangerous precedent. The groups backing the appeal are the American Association of University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. Their brief may be found here.
Part-time faculty members at Madison Area Technical College are protesting new rules -- approved by the full-time faculty members -- that would allow full-timers to sign up for "overload" courses before part-timers have received assignments, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The part-timers fear that some in their group will end up with no courses -- as full-timers opt for the extra pay for teaching beyond a full-time schedule.