Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 6, 2017

Today in the Academic Minute, Washington University in St. Louis's Leigh Schmidt discusses nonbelievers in America. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 6, 2017

A Canadian university has become the victim of an ongoing cyberterrorism attack, CBC News reported.

As of Friday, the University of Moncton had received nine “degrading and unwanted” emails from an unknown sender, according to the university’s president and vice chancellor, Raymond Théberge. The emails were sent out campuswide and reached about 2,000 students and staff.

The emails, which began arriving a little over a week ago, target a single female student in what some university officials are calling “revenge porn.” The emails include sexually explicit images.

Officials don’t believe university data or personal information have been compromised at any point, and their IT department is working to intercept new emails from the sender.

Some students at the University of Moncton asked that the campus email system be cut off until the perpetrator was found and held accountable. But Théberge said that would affect the institution’s nearly 4,000 students and would give the cyberattacker what he or she wants.

“If we were to freeze all emails, it will mean the perpetrator will have succeeded in stopping us from operating,” Théberge said. “This is a type of cyberterrorism, and it’s never a good thing to give in to these kinds of attacks.”

Police believe they have uncovered the identity of the culprit, but they have not yet found the person. One of the two servers they are following is connected with an IP address in Europe.

March 3, 2017

Incoming first-year students at Michigan State University who felt a connection with the university during orientation were more likely to fit in and want to stay enrolled at the university, particularly students from ethnic minority groups.

Those are the findings of a study published by the Journal of Vocational Behavior, which was based on surveys of 1,935 Michigan State students.

“We found that students can develop a sense of fitting in before they even walk into class, and that feeling is important down the line. It leads to the students feeling like their skills meet academic demands and also leads to them wanting to stick around,” Joshua Prasad, the study's lead author and a master’s student in the university's psychology department, said in a written statement. “For universities that are looking to foster a diverse student body, this is an avenue they can actually act on. They can use that summer before students first come to campus to help develop that sense of fitting in.”

Ethnic minority students were less likely to report feeling a connection to the university. But those who did had a "stronger link to feelings of fitting in and wanting to remain at the university after one semester," the study found.

March 3, 2017

Alvernia University announced Thursday that it will drop the "Crusaders" name for athletic teams and will select another name. An FAQ offered this rationale: "Our patron, St. Francis, changed his life course and spiritual journey when he turned away from the Crusades and pursued a path of peacemaking -- including his famous trip to meet the sultan Malik al Kamil. This name change is in fidelity to our Franciscan mission and is congruent with the spirit of peace, harmony and inclusiveness that we, as Franciscans, strive for and that Pope Francis upholds."

On the university's Facebook page, many alumni praised the decision, while others accused the university of embracing political correctness and moving toward "a lame, pansy mascot."

March 3, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, David Caplan, professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, discusses whether hip-hop is poetry and whether it should be more broadly recognized for its skill. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 3, 2017

A federal grand jury has indicted the president of Ecclesia College, Oren Paris III, a former Arkansas state senator and a consultant, on multiple charges of mail and wire fraud. The allegations center on reports that Paris, through inappropriate means, asked legislators to provide state funds to the college, a Christian institution in Arkansas. The indictment is against Paris, not the college.

The college's board posted a statement to the Ecclesia Facebook page Thursday in which it said that it was confident that Paris has acted "with absolute integrity and always with the best interest" of the college. The statement also called Paris "a godly leader." Further, the statement said that board members were in unanimous agreement that Paris should continue as president.

March 3, 2017

A student at Seminole State College was arrested Thursday after he threatened to hurt himself with a gun and argued with an instructor, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The incident started when the student told a professor that he was tired of life, pulled up his shirt and pulled out a handgun. The instructor grabbed the gun and threw it out the window, and the student and instructor scuffled. When the student left to find the gun, the instructor called security officials, who arrested the student.

March 2, 2017

An Iowa lawmaker pushing for “partisan balance” in faculty hiring doesn’t have a business degree from “Forbco Management school,” as he claimed on a government website, NBC News reported. And Forbco isn’t a management school at all, but rather a company that operated a Sizzler steak house franchise. He doesn’t have a degree from the University of California, Riverside, either, despite saying he majored in “astro-physics, geo-physics and mathematics” there.

Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican, made waves last month when he proposed that no professor or instructor be hired by an Iowa public institution if his or her most recent party affiliation would “cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by 10 percent” the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other dominant party. The bill was seen by many as an attempt to limit the number of Democrats hired, since academics tend to lean to the political left.

With notoriety came scrutiny, and some began to question Chelgren’s credentials. In a telephone interview with NBC, Chelgren was reportedly vague about Forbco, saying it was near Los Angeles and that he got his business degree “around ’88 or ’89. It's going back a ways, so I don't remember.” The “business degree” reference has since been removed from Chelgren’s Iowa Senate page.

“This was a management course he took when he worked for Sizzler, kind of like Hamburger University at McDonald's,” Ed Failor, a spokesperson for the Iowa State Republicans, told NBC. “He got a certificate.” A Riverside spokesperson said Chelgren attended and studied physics there in the early 1990s, but he did not graduate.

March 2, 2017

Students at Guilford College on Wednesday protested the college's response -- which they said was too slow -- to a sex assault on a transgender student, The News & Record reported. The student was attacked Tuesday night, and those at the protest said that police officers laughed at and used an incorrect pronoun to describe the student. Further, it took three hours for the college to send out a campus alert. There have been no arrests in the case.

At the rally, college officials apologized and said that the alert should have gone out earlier, and that the college needs to improve communication on safety issues. Student noted that the college in the fall promptly sent out an alert about a reported clown on campus but did not act quickly when there was a report by a transgender student about being attacked.

March 2, 2017

While there are many commendable aspects of foundation-led efforts to improve student success rates in remedial education, such as the so-called corequisite approach, those reforms are likely to fail to achieve their ambitious goals, according to the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University.

The center this week published a white paper that describes remedial reforms and the data on their effectiveness. The paper also lays out what it says are necessary accompanying efforts to boost college completion. They include improving the quality of teaching and learning in community college classrooms, fully integrating courses and student support services, and expanding the connections between two-year colleges, public K-12 schools and community services. 

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