Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

On the latest "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, Kevin Eagan of the University of California at Los Angeles Cooperative Institutional Research Program and Kevin Kruger of NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education joined Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and "This Week" moderator Casey Green to review and analyze the findings of this year's freshmen survey, which showed students under ever-growing stress. In our other segment, Algonquin College's Jack Wilson and consultant Liz Reisberg discuss the climate for foreign universities operating in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Sign up here for notification of new "This Week" podcasts.


Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities on Friday filed a motion calling for a judge to issue a ruling without a trial on the for-profit trade group's legal challenge to the U.S. Department of Education's gainful employment rules.

The regulations would impose penalties on vocational programs at for-profits and community colleges that do not meet standards the department has set for graduates' debt-to-earnings ratios. (The rules would only apply to non-degree programs at community colleges, however, while applying to degree and non-degree programs at for-profits.)

The for-profit association quickly sued after the rules were released, calling them arbitrary. A department official, however, said at the time that he was confident the regulations would withstand legal scrutiny.

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

Sami Al-Arian, who was fired as a tenured professor by the University of South Florida in 2003, was deported last week from the United States to Turkey. Al-Arian was fired after he was indicted on federal charges of helping a terrorist group. In 2005, a jury cleared him of some charges and deadlocked on others -- convicting him of nothing. He has continued to deny doing anything illegal, but in 2006 he accepted a plea agreement under which he served jail time and agreed to be deported after that. The university said after the 2005 jury decision that it would not take him back as a professor. Many faculty groups over the years criticized the way the university handled the case -- especially for suspending him, prior to his indictment, after comments he made were viewed by Florida politicians as supporting terrorism. The university said that his presence on campus could lead to disruption or safety issues.

Jonathan Turley, who in the past was part of Al-Arian's legal team, posted on his blog a statement in which he said the case "raised troubling due process, academic freedom and free speech issues."

Turley's blog also features a statement from Al-Arian in which he said in part: "Today, freedom of expression has become a defining feature in the struggle to realize our humanity and liberty. The forces of intolerance, hegemony and exclusionary politics tend to favor the stifling of free speech and the suppression of dissent. But nothing is more dangerous than when such suppression is perpetrated and sanctioned by government."

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

A booking agency that represents musician Jack White has reportedly blacklisted the University of Oklahoma after the student paper printed excerpts of White's contract ahead of a concert there last week. The Oklahoma Daily wrote two articles after obtaining the contract through the state's open records law. One article highlighted White's $80,000 fee while another, snarkier article detailed his tour rider, a document that included stipulations for a steak dinner, "aged salami with a sharp knife" and "FRESH HOME-MADE GUACAMOLE" for the band ("we want it chunky"). The rider also included a detailed recipe for the guacamole and a ban on bananas, stating that "this is a NO BANANA TOUR."

In response, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment -- the agency that booked White at the university and that also represents acts like the Foo Fighters, Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys -- told the university's Campus Activities Council that it will no longer book artists at Oklahoma until its "policy is modified not to disseminate private information," according to The Oklahoma Daily. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment did not return a request for comment. 

White's management, Monotone, Inc., released a statement Friday saying it and White have not blacklisted the university and clarifying that White did not write the rider himself. "We're not even sure he likes guacamole," Monotone stated. The company also referred to the actions of the student newspaper as "unfortunate, unprofessional and very unwelcoming."

"His contract wasn’t something we leaked," Emily Sharp, the newspaper's assistant arts editor, wrote on Wednesday, after White also called out the staff during the concert. "It is public information that any of you could request. Many newspapers show contracts of celebrities that come into town; this isn’t something The Daily did that’s out of the ordinary. It’s not a hidden document, and it’s not something we had to dig to get. It is available to the public."


Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

Dennis J. Murray announced Saturday that he plans to step down as president of Marist College in June 2016. Murray has already served 36 years in the position -- an unusually lengthy tenure for a president these days.

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Frank Frisch, a kinesiologist at Chapman University, discusses his research on workplace stress and degenerative disease. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, February 6, 2015 - 4:30am

Two students at Providence College have been hospitalized with meningitis, The Providence Journal reported. Antibiotics are being provided to those who came into contact with the students. Guilford College also reported this week that a student was diagnosed with meningitis.


Friday, February 6, 2015 - 4:21am

Several hundred protesters delayed by more than an hour the start of a speech Thursday of Marine Le Pen at the University of Oxford, The Guardian reported. Le Pen is leader of the National Front in France and regularly criticizes Muslims in her country. Authorities were forced for a time to close the doors to the Oxford Union. When she did speak, Le Pen did not shy away from the stances that led the protesters to call her a bigot (and worse).



Friday, February 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Two people died Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide inside the University of South Carolina's Public Health Research Center. The university canceled all classes inside the new school of public health and sent out two alerts through its emergency messaging system. "Today, the USC family experienced a great tragedy," Harris Pastides, South Carolina's president, said in a statement, but he did not say if those involved in the shooting were students or faculty.  Earlier this week, two Tulane University students also died in a murder-suicide. In an e-mail to students Sunday, Michael Fitts, Tulane's president, described the past year as "extraordinarily difficult." At least four Tulane students have committed suicide since August.

In November, a University of South Carolina student was killed by her boyfriend, and in October, a San Francisco State University student was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend. Both killings were also murder-suicides.

Friday, February 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Governor Scott Walker's effort to dramatically change the University of Wisconsin System’s mission was seemingly premeditated and hardly an accident, local newspaper reports suggested Thursday.

Walker faced intense criticism Wednesday for trying to remove key parts of the Wisconsin university system’s mission from state code, but he blamed the whole thing on a “drafting error.” A draft of the all-important state budget eliminated the university’s mission to “search for truth,” “improve the human condition” and “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses.” The mission is known as the Wisconsin Idea.

But documents that show Walker administration officials gave “detailed, line-by-line instructions” about how to remove that very language, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Days before Walker released the draft, a University of Wisconsin official expressed concerns about the changes, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker on Thursday continued to blame the changes on happenstance, a version of events that would allow him to appear as if he was not retreating in the face of widespread criticism. “Clearly, changing the Wisconsin Idea serves no purpose,” he said in a statement. “That is why I made it clear on Wednesday that we would not change it in the budget. It is not a change of heart. It was a simple miscommunication during the natural back-and-forth of this process.”


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