Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 30, 2015 - 3:00am

On Inside Higher Ed's Twitter account, we asked readers to tweet their answers to the question: What would scare academics this Halloween? Below are the winning tweets (whose authors will be receiving treats). All the entries may be found under the hashtag #IHEtrickortreat. Happy Halloween to all.





Friday, October 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Rider University, a private institution located in New Jersey, announced this week that it will close 14 academic programs and lay off 14 full-time faculty members. The university also will convert three academic majors to minors and will eliminate two clerical positions and five vacant faculty jobs.

The cuts are in response to financial challenges, the university said in a written statement, and will result in annual savings of about $2 million.

"The decision to move forward with these closures and changes was not made lightly. They have profound impacts on those who are directly affected by them," the university said. "But they are needed to put Rider on a more progressive path and position the university more strongly in an increasingly competitive environment."

Friday, October 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Non-tenure-track instructors at the University of Chicago have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to vote on whether to form a collective bargaining unit affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Thursday. SEIU adjunct union drives also are under way at the University of Washington, the University of Southern California and Duke University. A spokesman for Chicago said the university had no immediate comment.

Friday, October 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, George Uetz, professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati, tells us all about purring spiders. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 4:32am

Jeb Bush is facing social media backlash from psychology majors over comments he made in a recent town hall meeting in which he criticized colleges for not discouraging students from majoring in psychology and other liberal arts fields. The Washington Examiner reported that he said, "Universities ought to have skin in the game. When a student shows up, they ought to say, 'Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that's great, it's important to have liberal arts … but realize, you're going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'"

Bush is continuing a tradition in which Florida Republican politicians question various liberal arts degrees. Governor Rick Scott took on anthropology majors. And Senator Marco Rubio, one of Bush's rivals for the presidential nomination, has criticized philosophy majors.

Psychology majors are answering Bush's swipe. On Twitter, with the hashtag #thispsychmajor, they are talking about why they are psych majors and why they are frustrated by Bush's comments.

Some examples:

For those curious, Bush's undergraduate degree is in Latin American studies.

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 4:34am

Bernie Sanders has been drawing large crowds of college students to his campaign events. On Wednesday, he officially announced a group of faculty supporters, including many prominent figures of the academic left. Higher Ed for Bernie will be organizing a series of campus events. An initial statement from the group calls for a bolstering of public higher education and renewed efforts to make higher education a tool for promoting social equality. Signatories include Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary, Frances Fox Piven of the City University of New York Graduate Center, Adolph Reed Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, Walter Benn Michaels of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Jeffrey J. Williams of Carnegie Mellon University.

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 3:00am

A Miles College student was shot and killed Tuesday night in off-campus housing. Officials identified the student as 21-year-old Keenen Tajae Morris, according to KSLA News. Police say no one has yet been arrested or detained, but they believe the shooting was an isolated incident. Miles is a historically black college located in Fairfield, a small city outside Birmingham, Ala.

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal judge this week ruled that Corinthian Colleges engaged in “unfair” and “deceptive” practices in its private student lending program and ordered the company to pay more than $500 million in restitution to students.

Judge Gary Feinerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Tuesday ruled that Corinthian deceived students by convincing them to take out private student loans based on misleading and false information about their job prospects upon completing the for-profit college’s programs. He also found that the company illegally collected private student loan debt.

The ruling in favor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which brought the lawsuit last year, came after Corinthian Colleges, whose assets were liquidated in bankruptcy earlier this year, stopped defending itself in the case.

Because the company is now defunct, former Corinthian students will likely not see any of the $531 million in restitution that the judge ordered the college pay to students who took out private loans on its campuses.

However, the legal finding against Corinthian may help boost the case of former students who are asking the U.S. Department of Education to cancel their loans.

Education Department officials have struggled to decide what type of evidence they need to grant such debt relief. But officials said earlier this year that actual legal findings against Corinthian -- as opposed to allegations made in lawsuits -- were the best type of evidence that could help a borrower make a case.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement that the judge’s “ruling marks the end of our litigation against a company that severely harmed tens of thousands of students, turning dreams of higher education into a nightmare.”

He said that bureau officials, who also have a pending lawsuit against ITT Tech, remain “deeply concerned about risks facing student borrowers in the for-profit space and will continue to be vigilant in rooting out harmful practices.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 4:37am

The University of Arizona has placed on leave the dean of the College of Pharmacy, Jessie Lyle Bootman, who has been indicted on charges of sexual assault, sexual abuse and aggravated assault, ABC 15 News reported. The alleged incident involved an adult female and is not connected to the university. Bootman's lawyer released a statement saying that his client was "shocked and saddened" by the allegations, and denied any wrongdoing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 3:00am

The editors of Cardinal Points, the student newspaper of the State University of New York's Plattsburgh campus, have apologized for a cartoon featuring a stereotypical image of a black person, illustrating an article on minority admissions. The cartoon (right) received widespread attention when The Daily Beast wrote an article about it titled, "College Paper Prints the Most Racist Front Page in America."

The student newspaper's apology said, in part, "To be frank, we deeply regret the use of this graphic and any offense or harm it may have caused our friends and peers. As SUNY Plattsburgh students and editors of the newspaper, we are constantly trying to represent the campus community in the best possible way, and in this case, we did not do so. Please know that we do not take this lightly and are using this as a constructive learning experience because we wish, more than anything, to remain an outlet of positivity and inclusion, where all members of our community feel safe and respected."


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