Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of California system has sold $200 million in endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, The Los Angeles Times reported. While the university has not adopted a formal divestment policy, officials said that environmental concerns were a factor in the decision. Officials also cited greater financial risk in investments in these companies than has been the case in the past.
Indiana University will invest $300 million over the next five years in a Grand Challenges research program aimed at solving some of the planet’s most urgent problems. Up to five large-scale research projects will be selected for funding, based on their potential impact on the state of Indiana, its economy and the campus. But the projects, such as those related to international water supply issues, energy availability, infectious diseases and climate change, will have global implications. They’ll involve interdisciplinary research and new partnerships with nonprofits, industry and government. The university announced Wednesday that it is seeking preliminary proposals from faculty teams for the first two Grand Challenge grants, to begin next year. The initiative will be paid for through a combination of donations, existing university funds and reallocated planned expenditures, and other sources.
The faculty union at Rutgers University on Wednesday urged the university to investigate whether its football coach, Kyle Flood, intimidated and bullied instructors while communicating with them about the grades of football players. Rutgers is already investigating whether Flood violated university policy when he allegedly contacted a part-time lecturer about an F grade that was assigned to a player. That player was declared academically ineligible in the spring and was recently dismissed from the team after being charged with aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit riot.
"The Executive Council of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT full-time faculty union urges the university to carry out an investigation that includes all possible communications between Coach Kyle Flood and the instructors of football players, with particular attention to possible intimidation or bullying of vulnerable, contingent faculty," the faculty members stated in their resolution. "All instructors are entitled to academic freedom in research and teaching, including in the assessment of students’ work. Academic freedom is an essential component of quality higher education and the freedom for faculty members to assess students’ work without external pressure is an essential component of academic freedom."
Thomas J. Snyder, president of Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College, announced Wednesday that he will step down as leader of the statewide system. Snyder, 72, was recently named as a member of the White House's College Promise Advisory Board, a coalition of educators, politicians and business leaders organized to promote free community college.
Ivy Tech's Board of Trustees approved a transition contract for Snyder that will allow him to retire in 2016. He has led the system, one of the nation's largest, since 2007.
Daymar College has agreed to pay a $1.2 million settlement to former students who sued the Kentucky, for-profit company for false job placement claims and fraud, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.
The settlement requires Daymar to pay $1.4 million to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's office. Students who attended the college in the five years ending July 27, 2011, would split the rest, while Conway's office will keep $200,000 to cover attorney's fees and to pay a claims administrator. The lawsuit had 413 private plaintiffs.
In 2011, Conway charged the college with overcharging students for textbooks, misleading them about financial aid and failing to provide accurate information about the ability to transfer credit.
The American Institutes for Research will help the Jefferson Education Accelerator identify efficacious educational technology, the two organizations announced on Wednesday. The accelerator, founded by the University of Virginia, provides ed-tech companies that have progressed beyond the start-up stage with capital, mentoring and independent research that tests their products' effect in the classroom. Faculty members at the UVa Curry School of Education also participate in the accelerator's network of researchers. The accelerator in July announced Echo360, a lecture-capture technology provider, would become its first partner company.
Alumni from three New England colleges may have an easier time investing in one other’s companies after the launch today of several new private venture capital funds. Green D Fund, BlueCat Angel and Blue Ivy Venture all aim to support alumni- or student-led companies with alumni-backed investment from Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire and Yale University, respectively. All three funds are the latest in a series from Launch Angels Management Company. Their first, Green D’s predecessor, raised $1.5 million from 44 Dartmouth alumni and has so far invested in 10 different companies, all with Dartmouth alumni in leadership positions. The funds are private, for-profit and otherwise unaffiliated with the colleges.
Fall is here, and with it a new edition of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.
Click here to try to come up with a pithy caption for this month's cartoon.
You can vote here for your favorite of three finalists chosen by our judges from the submissions for last month's cartoon.
And congratulations are due to Louise Freeman, a professor of psychology at Mary Baldwin College and winner of our July competition. Her caption for the cartoon at right -- "Professor Bob quickly realized that asking his introductory statistics students to calculate 10 percent of 150 without using a calculator was an exercise in futility." -- received more votes from our readers than the other two finalists. She will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall. Thanks to all for playing.