Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, says he hasn't given up on the University of California at Irvine. His appearance at Irvine last month set off a wide debate about civility and protest when his talk was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. Now Oren has published an open letter in the university's student newspaper offering to come back to Irvine. "I came to UCI for the opportunity to exchange ideas — a reasonable intention that was hijacked by a minority of students. The disruptive measures exhibited by these students only underscore the importance for dialogue, especially on the frontline of higher learning," Oren wrote. "I would willingly return to your campus and meet with those individuals whose views may not agree with mine as long as we respect the decorum of dialogue and free speech. Middle East issues are not devoid of emotion or nuance. Only with respect and sensitivity from all sides can we attain the conditions necessary to tackle one of the great issues of our time and realize the vision of peace."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Colleges may be freezing many salaries this year, but a new athletic competition has emerged in the salaries of top assistant football coaches, USA Today reported. Last year, only two assistant coaches earned more than $650,000, but this year, six will be earning at least $700,000. And nearly a dozen universities have signed contracts increasing the compensation for offensive or defensive coordinators by at least 38 percent.
Community colleges in Nebraska have reached a compromise over a funding dispute that led Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, to sue the state's five other community colleges, The Omaha World-Herald reported. Metro State has argued that the state's funding formulas favor rural institutions unfairly. Under the deal reached to resolved the dispute, the suit will be dropped, Metro will receive $1.8 million this year from the other colleges while keeping the formula in effect for the year, and the six colleges will negotiate a new state formula for use in the future.
Jackson State University's president, Ronald Mason Jr., has received considerable public criticism for his idea of merging the state's three public, historically black universities into one. But a review by The Jackson Clarion-Ledger of e-mail to and from Mason about the idea shows that some in the state who have not spoken in favor of the plan were either supportive in private or at least open to considering the ideas. The e-mail messages also include some tough criticism and some of Mason's frustrations about the difficulty of talking about these issues. "If I can't have private conversations with members of the Black Caucus about the future of HBCUs without them trying to get me fired, then who am I supposed to talk to?" he said in one e-mail.
The University of Kentucky fire marshall is calling for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house to be closed for the rest of this semester and next semester following an unusual and unsafe fire incident, The Herald-Leader reported. According to authorities, they found multiple fire code violations after responding to an incident in which a fraternity member set fire to a friend who was wrapped in toilet paper.
A group of major corporations in Britain says that the government's push to expand access to higher education has devalued university degrees there, The Guardian reported. The British government has set a goal of having 50 percent of all citizens under 30 attain a college degree, and that effort "driven down standards and devalued the currency of a degree and damaged the quality of the university experience," says a report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents 800 companies.
Federal authorities have charged a California man with a massive visa fraud scheme in which he is alleged to have attended 10 different colleges in Southern California, sitting in class, writing papers and taking exams -- all while pretending to be other people who needed to pass the courses to keep their student visas, the Los Angeles Times reported. Daniel Higgins is alleged to have helped about 120 students, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. He pleaded not guilty on Monday and declined to comment on the case.
New enrollment projections suggest that California's colleges need to find room for another 400,000 students by 2019, and that the state could be on a path of turning away many of them. The findings come from the California Postsecondary Education Commission. The enrollment demands will be especially strong for Latino students, whose numbers could go up by more than 40 percent over the decade.
Jonathan Spence, a Yale University historian who is one of the leading experts on China, was named Monday as the 2010 Jefferson Lecturer, the highest honor given by the federal government to a humanities scholar each year. Spence's lecture, to be delivered May 20 in Washington, will be called “When Minds Met: China and the West in the 17th Century."
A student organization at the University of Nevada at Reno, UNR Students for Liberty, held a rally Monday to call for the abolition of student government. With balloons, ponies and pizza, the rally cost about $3,000. KOLO-TV News reported that the group got that money from ... the student government.