Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 16, 2013

The hiring of David H. Petraeus, the former military leader and ex-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to teach at the honors college of the City University of New York this year angered many faculty members when word leaked that he would be paid $200,000 for a single course. In response Petraeus agreed to teach the course for only $1.

But the University Faculty Senate is now defending the right of Petraeus to teach, and to walk to his class, following protests in which his critics shouted at him repeatedly, calling him a war criminal and vowing to follow him to every class session. A statement released by the Executive Committee of the body said: "Because they disagree with Professor Petraeus' views, these demonstrators intend to deprive him of his ability to teach and the ability of his students to learn from him.... Professor Petraeus, and all members of CUNY's instructional staff, have the right to teach without interference. Members of the university community must have the opportunity to express alternate views, but in a manner that does not violate academic freedom."

Here is video of the protests Petraeus has faced:

 

 

 

September 16, 2013

Madison Area Technical College is turning down an offer of a $100,000 gift because of a condition attached to it, The Capital Times reported. David Peterson, a long-time instructor, pledged the money if the college would change the name of the Bettseybettsey is sic -sj L. Barhorst Welcome Center by removing the name of Barhorst, former president of the college. To drive home the point, Peterson said he would turn over the funds specifically for the lettering currently used in the welcome center. Peterson explained his rationale to the newspaper. He said he was offended by the "decadent display of self-promotion." A welcome center, he said, should be "functional, not personal." College officials say, however, that the welcome center wasn't just named to honor the former president, but because she and her husband made a donation. Having accepted funds and agreed to name the center, officials said, they can't remove the name.

 

September 16, 2013

Teenagers say graduating from college is highly important, but teens and their mothers worry about the price tag, according to a report released this month by Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

Researchers for report “Voices for Two-Generation Success: Seeking Stable Futures” conducted focus groups with married and single mothers, teens and preteens this summer to get their thoughts on the importance of education and the affordability of college, as well as on barriers to success, community support and other issues.

Teenagers expressed economic anxiety over their future. Almost all of the older teens said they worried about affording college and knew many people had high debt and student loans. Some said their parents will contribute financially to their educational pursuits. Other teens said they may take out loans or work while in school. Despite concerns, teenagers believe a college degree leads to financial security and success. “Because nowadays you need really a college education to have a steady job that could support you,” a preteen boy from Denver said in the report.

Mothers also said a college education is important for their children and allows them to have a career instead of a job and to work on a passion rather than trying to make enough money to pay bills and get by. “Go all the way in school,” a low-income mother from Denver said in the report. “All the way… It is probably the strongest foundation you can ever have. People can take your money, they can take your house, your car, but you will always have your education to fall back on.”

September 16, 2013
Birmingham Metropolitan College has reversed its ban on students wearing the niqab, a veil worn by some Muslim women that covers the face save for the eyes, The Telegraph reported. The college, which also prohibits the wearing of caps, hats and hoodies, had banned the full-face veils for safety reasons, saying it was important for individuals to be readily identifiable whenever they’re on campus. However, students protested that they were being discriminated against based on their religion. The college reversed the ban after more than 8,000 people signed a petition within 48 hours and right before a demonstration was planned on campus, saying it would modify its policies “to allow individuals to wear specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values.”
 
"The college will still need to be able to confirm an individual's identity in order to maintain safeguarding and security.”
 
September 16, 2013

Metropolitan State University has paid its summer course instructors – a week late, the Pioneer Press reported. Administrators said last week that paychecks had been issued to several dozen instructors who did not receive their paychecks on time. The lump-sum payments were for thousands of dollars in some instances.

The Twin Cities-based university’s collective bargaining unit, the Inter Faculty Organization, representing faculty in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, also has requested "detailed, enumerated," line-items on their paystubs going forward, and an audit of six years’ worth of faculty pay and benefits, citing a history of payroll problems.

University administrators could not be reached for comment Friday.

September 16, 2013

Purdue University's regional Calumet campus has rescinded layoffs ordered for seven faculty members, The Journal & Courier reported. Administrators had said that enrollment declines necessitated the layoffs, but now officials say that more encouraging enrollment projects mean that there is no longer the need to eliminate positions.

 

September 16, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Supriya Kumar of the University of Pittsburgh examines how flu outbreaks can be reduced by encouraging workers to use an extra sick day. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 16, 2013

The University of Virginia announced last week that a special commission will study the role slavery played in the university's history, and how that history should best be reflected today. A number of universities -- among them Brown and Emory Universities -- have conducted such studies.

 

September 13, 2013

Sheldon Hackney who served as president of Tulane University and the University of Pennsylvania, died Thursday at the age of 79, The Vineyard Gazette reported. Hackney died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hackney was respected as a historian (he focused on the American South), and his presidencies were generally considered successful.

But the end of Hackney's Penn presidency saw him and the university become the focus of a national debate on free speech. A student had shouted from his dorm room for a group of students below to stop making noise and he had called them "water buffalo." The students below were minority students and the student who shouted faced a university hearing over alleged insensitivity. (The student who shouted "water buffalo" said that the words came from an Israeli phrase for loud, rude people and had nothing to do with race.) The case galvanized many who felt that colleges were going too far in their push to promote sensitivity and that such efforts were intruding on free speech rights.

Hackney left Penn in 1993 when President Clinton nominated him to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. While Hackney was confirmed for that post, his confirmation hearings featured extensive discussion of the "water buffalo" case, which drew more attention than his plans for the NEH. At the endowment, one of Hackney's major projects was to encourage public discussion of difficult issues through a program called "A National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity."

 

September 13, 2013

A student at Virginia College’s Augusta, Ga., campus has been arrested for allegedly giving her pregnant professor a tainted snack cake. Diane Ambrose was charged with reckless conduct after offering her professor a sealed cake she had injected with a foreign substance through the wrapper, WRDW-TV reported. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says the 12-week-pregnant professor developed a stomach ailment two weeks ago, after eating the treat. Another student knew about Ambrose's alleged plan, but didn’t tell the professor until she knew she had become sick.

Virginia College did not return a call for comment on the condition of the professor and Ambrose's student status. Ambrose, arrested Wednesday, was out on bail Thursday.

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