Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 14, 2018

A man was stabbed to death in a Sonoma State University dormitory Sunday night, and authorities have arrested a man. The university said that both the victim and the man arrested are "college aged," but there is no confirmation of whether they are students.

May 14, 2018

To mark commencement season, North Carolina State University invited graduating seniors to a studio to try on a graduation robe and to discuss off the cuff their feelings about graduating. The student pride might challenge cynics out there. The videos may be found here. We've placed one below.

May 14, 2018

In hiring in higher education, the jobs seeing the most growth in the number of openings in the last year are data analysts and police/public safety officers, according to a survey being released today by CUPA-HR. A full report is available for purchase from the association.

May 14, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Elizabeth Kiester, assistant professor of sociology at Albright College, looks into the intersection of religion and policy on attitudes toward LGBTQ rights. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 12, 2018

Vincent Price, president of Duke University, issued an apology Thursday for a series of incidents on campus, including one in which a vice president's comments led to the firings of two baristas at a coffee shop. The latter incident took place when Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, complained about a rap song featuring the N-word that he heard when he visited a campus coffee shop. Many have said his reaction -- whatever his views about the song -- was inappropriate.

Price's statement agreed with that criticism and also noted other concerns on campus about race and inclusion.

"When we learn a racial slur has been scrawled on a dorm door, a social media posting has used abhorrent language, anti-Semitic posters have been distributed in Durham, or workers on our campus have been treated unfairly, we feel angry, discouraged, and disappointed. Duke should be a place where these things don’t happen," Price wrote.

He said that Duke "will not succumb to a rush to judgment that demands instant retribution absent context and deliberation." But at the same time, he said, he was bothered by recent events and the university needed to change.

"I will simply say that I am deeply sorry that we are not where we want to be as a university. I am, in particular, sorry that the words of one of my senior administrators recently resulted in two individuals working for one of our on-campus vendors losing their jobs; and while I am pleased that the vendor has taken steps to reverse this action, I apologize for the precipitous and unfair treatment these employees experienced. We must do better," Price said. "We have somehow lost the sense of compassion and human tolerance that should define our community. This is reflected in the ways we interact with each other, the ways we hold ourselves and others accountable for our conduct, and in our words and deeds as scholars, students and employees."

May 11, 2018

The College Board on Tuesday night ordered extra security precautions for Advanced Placement tests given Wednesday and some that are still coming up. The College Board told those supervising tests to require those taking them in the Eastern time zone to remain for the entire test plus extra time, generally about 30 minutes. A College Board spokesman said that the extra security was based on information obtained by the College Board but declined to elaborate. Generally, measures such as those ordered for Eastern time zones are given when testing entities find a cheating scheme that would involve students in Eastern time zones quickly telling those in the West about questions.

May 11, 2018

A New York State appellate court sided with Cornell University Thursday in a tenure dispute case, overturning a lower court’s 2016 decision ordering a new tenure review for Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics. The lower court said that a sexual misconduct claim against Vengalattore by a former graduate student — which he denies, and which Cornell's Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations found no evidence of -- had severely compromised his tenure application process. Several faculty committees ruled in Vengalattore’s favor, but his application was denied by administrators. Cornell did not follow its own policies and procedures, keeping Vengalattore in the dark as to the allegations against him until he appealed the negative tenure decision, and then denying him due process and a hearing on the matter, the 2016 decision said.

In contrast, the new appellate court decision says that Cornell did not deny Vengalattore tenure in “bad faith.” Courts should generally defer to institutional judgment in such matters, the decision says, and Vengalattore’s tenure application included both “positive and negative opinions from an array of reviewers” about his work. And while the allegations against Vengalattore may have been “discussed” during his tenure review process, the decision says, “the record of evidence indicates that such allegations did not factor into the final tenure decision.”

Joel M. Malina, university spokesperson, said that Cornell was “gratified” by the new decision, which “unequivocally vindicates” administrative actions regarding Vengalattore. The decision also affirms “judicial deference properly afforded academic institutions in tenure and promotion decisions,” he said.

Vengalattore said in an interview that he’s considering his legal options, including a possible retaliation claim against Cornell for the treatment he says he and his students have been subjected to since his tenure denial, such as threats to close his lab. The appellate court “got several facts completely wrong,” he added, alleging that Cornell repeatedly misrepresented key elements of the case. He noted that he has still not had a campus hearing regarding the misconduct allegations. Cornell policy says an external expert committee “shall” be appointed to assess complicated tenure cases such as his, he said, disagreeing with the appellate court's determination that such an outside review is optional.

May 11, 2018

A dozen students at Texas Christian University have been suspended over cheating allegations, CBS News reported. The students have hired a lawyer, who maintains that they are being treated unfairly. The cheating allegations apparently concern an app called Quizlet, on which students can create flash cards and quizzes to study. Apparently, the students saw material on Quizlet that was later on their exams and did not report this. But the students maintain that they didn't know the material was in any way off-limits.

May 11, 2018

In a commencement season in which one university is being criticized for limiting celebrations during graduation ceremonies, Biola University's president mixed things up a bit at his institution's ceremony. President Barry H. Corey did a dance while presenting a diploma to one graduate, who happened to be his daughter, Ella, who was in on the planning. The song is "Soulful Strut," widely known for being featured in The Parent Trap:

May 11, 2018

The Department of Education plans to issue a draft regulation in September governing colleges' handling of campus sexual misconduct, according to an update of the Trump administration's federal regulatory agenda this week.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said when she rescinded Obama administration guidance on campus sexual assault that her department would issue a new binding regulation within the next year. The department indicated later that a new rule could be released as soon as this spring.

"I don't read too much into it other than the fact that this is really hard and they're trying to get it right," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Council on Education.

Hartle said that in a best-case scenario for the department, it would take between three and four months to review comments on a proposed rule and submit a final regulation. That could mean assuming a September release date of a proposed rule, a final regulation may not be issued until next spring.

The Department of Education, meanwhile, is still waiting for Senate confirmation of Kenneth L. Marcus, the White House nominee for assistant secretary for civil rights. The Office for Civil Rights, which Marcus would lead if confirmed, would oversee colleges' compliance with a new regulation.

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