Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Andrea Smith, a professor at the University of California at Riverside who has been a major figure in Native American studies, has responded to charges that she has falsely told people that she is a member of the Cherokee nation. As the accusations (some of which are many years old) have received new attention in recent weeks, Smith has said nothing. But on Thursday she published a blog post in which she said that she was not "enrolled" on the official list of Cherokee nation members, but she insisted that she has been correct in calling herself Cherokee. Many have said that Smith has never demonstrated Cherokee roots and that she should have stopped years ago telling people she was Native American.

In her blog post, Smith said: "I have always been, and will always be Cherokee. I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true. My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for native communities. There have been innumerable false statements made about me in the media. But ultimately what is most concerning is that these social media attacks send a chilling message to all native peoples who are not enrolled, or who are otherwise marginalized, that they should not publicly work for justice for native peoples out of fear that they too may one day be attacked."

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Akron on Friday announced a three-year plan to save $60 million. The plan includes the elimination of 215 jobs (none of them faculty positions). In addition, the baseball team will be cut. Northeast Ohio Media Group reported that many students are outraged by the cuts, and that campaigns have been launched to reverse some of the cuts, especially of the baseball team.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Last month, the journal Science received heavy criticism over an advice piece widely called sexist for encouraging a female scientist not to take seriously an adviser's pattern of looking at her chest, not her face, when they talked. The journal ended up pulling the column.

Now Science is being criticized for running another piece that some find sexist. This piece is mostly about getting noticed to advance one's career, and the importance of hard work. The portion of the piece drawing criticism says: "I worked 16 to 17 hours a day, not just to make progress on the technology but also to publish our results in high-impact journals. How did I manage it? My wife -- also a Ph.D. scientist -- worked far less than I did; she took on the bulk of the domestic responsibilities."

Critics say that Science should not be giving advice based on having a (female) spouse focus on child rearing, or on working 16 to 17 hours a day, which essentially removes one parent from child-care duties. Typical tweets: "Hey, @ScienceCareers, we don’t need advice on how to be successful scientists in the 1980s" and "What fresh sexist hell is this? Oh, it's @ScienceCareers. Again."

Editors at the careers section of Science did not respond to email requests for comment. The author of the piece, Eleftherios P. Diamandis, head of clinical biochemistry at a hospital of the University of Toronto, said via email that he had seen the criticisms. "It is a free world; all opinions respected," he wrote. He added, "If I stayed home, would my wife be sexist?"

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 4:21am

Brooklyn Law School is starting a new program in which it will offer a 15 percent refund on tuition to those who can't find a job nine months after graduation, The New York Times reported. The offer applies only to tuition paid, not to grants the students have received. The move comes at a time of national declines in law school enrollments amid a shrinking legal job market. Some law schools have responded by reducing enrollment and/or tuition. Last year, Brooklyn Law School cut tuition by 15 percent, to $43,237. To be eligible for the new program, students must take the bar exam after they graduate (though they need not pass), show that they are engaged in an active job search and use the law school's career search services.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Robert Shireman, who founded the Institute for College Access and Success and engineered the Obama administration's overhaul of student loan programs and increased regulation of for-profit colleges, has found a new home from which to work on higher education issues. The Century Foundation, which has focused its work on higher education on issues related to college access for low-income students, announced Friday that Shireman will become a senior fellow there as Century expands its education and labor policy teams.

Shireman has had a hand in most of the major higher education policy issues of the last decade, through work in Congress (as an aide to the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois), the White House (as a member of President Clinton's National Economic Council), in the foundation and think tank world (at the Aspen Institute and at TICAS and its Project on Student Debt), and then as deputy under secretary of education in President Obama's first term. More recently, he has worked on college access, funding and community college issues at California Competes, a nonprofit group.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education will halt collections on student loans for roughly 40,000 former Corinthian students who are in default, Reuters reported. A group of former Corinthian students has asked a federal bankruptcy court judge to temporarily suspend debt payments for up to 350,000 students who attended the collapsed for-profit chain during the last five years. A lawyer for the group last week told Reuters that the department would not collect on defaulted loans for 120 days. During that time the lawyer said he hopes to negotiate debt relief for all former Corinthian students.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, announced Saturday that he will veto legislation that would bar students whose parents brought them to the U.S. without legal authority to do so from participating in a state student aid program, The Kansas City Star reported. The legislation “flies in the face of what we believe as Americans and everything we know about the transformative power of education,” Nixon said.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Warren Wilson College announced Friday that it is dropping a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. A statement from Janelle Holmboe, vice president for enrollment, said: “This policy change makes sense. We value the whole student, the ways in which they innovate and apply knowledge, how they seek to serve others, and how they hope to make an impact in the world through hard work. Those qualities aren’t just reflected in test scores.”

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan today announced a $60 million gift to support entrepreneurial education efforts at its business school. The gift, from the Zell Family Foundation, will support the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and also create a $10 million fund to invest in student businesses.

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Lahcen Daoudi, Morocco's minister of higher education, gave a speech last week in which he said that arts and humanities graduates create a "burden on society" because they go home after graduation with "no practical knowledge" to find a job, Morocco World News reported. He called for reducing the percentage of university students (currently 9 percent) who study arts and humanities fields.

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