Tennessee has halted the enrollment of new students into its prepaid tuition program, after officials determined that the program could no longer be sure of having enough money to meet the obligations to new students, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported. The state plans to keep its commitment to students already enrolled in the program. Many prepaid tuition programs have faced difficulties in recent years as they were built on assumptions of healthy investment returns.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is raising concerns about legislation proposed in Congress and passed by legislators (but awaiting the governor's signature) in New Jersey that would require colleges to have policies to bar cyber-bullying, among other forms of harassment. The federal and state proposals are named for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after images of his encounter with a man were allegedly broadcast. FIRE issued a statement arguing that there are existing laws to punish those who invade students' privacy (as in the Clementi case) or who engage in harassment, and that the new legislation would create "a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus."
Students at several Texas colleges have started hunger strikes with the aim of convincing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, to support the DREAM Act when it comes up for an expected Senate vote next week, The San Antonio News-Express reported. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for many students who came to the United States at young ages with their parents, without legal authorization, and have been educated in the United States. The hunger strike started at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has spread to involve students at UT campuses at Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg and also at the University of North Texas.
An animal rights group this month sent David Jentsch, who uses rodents and primates in his neuroscience research, a package with razor blades and a threatening message, the Los Angeles Times reported. UCLA professors have been the targets of repeated threats and acts of vandalism from underground animal rights groups. Jentsch issued a statement vowing to continue his work. "Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do," he said. "We will continue to do so because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world."
Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism has for some years been debating how to reflect changes in journalism -- with some calling for more marketing-related programs and others resisting that push. Now comes word that the Medill faculty has voted to change its name to the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. (Yes, there is no "and" in the name.) Northwestern's board would need to approve a change. Some of the early reviews are harsh. One alumnus created a new Twitter hashtag (ashamedalum) to post this comment: "Medill, 'integrated marketing' is the kind of bullshit jargon your teachers should be editing out." The blog of the Chicago Reader managed to note the criticism of the new name while also teasingly suggesting that the old name might have been "Medill School of Jurassic Technology Journalism."
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that three female faculty members at Seton Hall University may move ahead with their lawsuit charging that they were illegally paid less than younger, male professors, The NJ.com Statehouse Bureau reported. At issue in the Supreme Court case was whether the women could sue over discrimination that they allege predates the statute of limitation (two years) on such litigation. The Supreme Court ruled that if pay they women received within the two years was based on past discriminatory actions, then the more recent pay could be the subject of a lawsuit.
The Faculty Senate at Northeastern Illinois University voted no confidence Tuesday in Sharon Hahs, president of the university, and Lawrence Frank, provost and vice president for academic affairs.The Faculty Senate cited a series of instances involving budget and curricular matters in which it says the views of faculty members were either ignored or not sought. Hahs issued a statement Tuesday saying: “These are very difficult times for Northeastern. Tensions are high as the administration and the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, are in the midst of lengthy and difficult contract negotiations.”
The University of Cape Town, once an institution of apartheid, is having an intense debate over the use of affirmative action in admissions, The New York Times reported. Supporters and defenders both cite statistics and ethics. Those who favor affirmative action note that even with admissions help, white students outnumber black students at Cape Town two-to-one in a country where 79 percent of the population is black and 9 percent is white. Others note graduation rates. Just over half of black students graduate in five years, while four of five white students do so.
A class action charges that the University of Miami discriminates against minority job candidates by conducting credit checks on prospective hires. The suit charges that this policy is a form of illegal discrimination because members of some minority groups are more likely than white people to have had credit problems, but that these issues have no relevance on many jobs. The lead plaintiff says she was offered a job as a senior medical collector at the university but was told -- after quitting her previous position -- that a credit check meant she could not take the position. The Associated Press reported that university officials declined to comment.
Opponents of for-profit colleges were surprised -- and perplexed -- when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, joined in a chorus of criticism of Congressional Democrats' tactics in investigating the commercial higher education providers. Late last week, they seized on news reports saying that the group's director, Melanie Sloan, was leaving to work with Lanny Davis, the former Clinton administration official who has been among those at the center of the Washington defense of the for-profit sector.