George Mason University last week announced it was renaming its law school to honor Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice. The school would be called the Antonin Scalia School of Law. Some then made fun of the acronym that was created (but never promoted by the university). The Wall Street Journal noted that while the official name of the law school hasn't changed, George Mason is now promoting the Antonin Scalia Law School, which avoids the unfortunate acronym.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board dismissed on Tuesday a petition from a group of tenure-line basic science faculty members at the Tufts University School of Medicine to hold a union election. The decision was based largely on a set of tests to assess faculty members’ managerial status established by a major 2014 NLRB decision concerning an adjunct faculty union bid at Pacific Lutheran University. The NLRB regional office said the members of Tufts’ proposed unit were in fact managers under those guidelines and therefore ineligible to form a union. Additionally, science faculty members with labs and direct reports are supervisors, according to the decision.
Siobhan Gallagher, a Tufts spokesperson, said in a statement that the university is pleased the NLRB office “recognizes the significant authority that our faculty members have in critical areas of the school’s management. We look forward to continuing dialogue and collaboration with our faculty.”
Jason Stephany, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union, with which the proposed unit is affiliated, said the NLRB decision "validates faculty concerns over the definition of tenure at the School of Medicine. … Tufts faculty disagree with several key points that form the basis of the regional director's overall ruling, and we will review our options for a potential appeal in the coming days."
The Obama administration is proposing new standards that govern how and when college accreditors have to alert the U.S. Department of Education about troubled institutions under the accreditors’ purview.
The department is soliciting public comments on a letter it plans to send to accreditors that will outline the circumstances under which they must notify federal officials of actions they take against a college.
Federally recognized college accrediting agencies are already required to provide certain information to the Education Department. As part of the administration’s executive actions on accreditation, the Education Department is now looking to standardize how that process works.
The letter outlines, for instance, uniform definitions for the various terms that accreditors use to describe similar types problems at a college (such as “denial” of accreditation or “suspension” of accreditation). Under the new policy, accreditors would also have to triage information they send to the department by level of severity to help federal regulators more quickly sort out serious problems from more routine changes in a college’s accreditation status.
As the department collects more robust information from accreditors about troubled institutions, it also plans to make such information publicly available, according to the letter. The department will accept public comments until June 6.
A survey of roughly 90,000 students, most of whom attend four-year colleges, found that 90 percent of respondents feel they do not have all the information necessary to pay back their student loans. EverFi, an education technology company, conducted the survey, which was funded by Higher One, a financial company focused on higher education. It is the fourth installment of the annual survey. This year's version found a continuing decrease in students' planning for responsible financial behaviors.
The Albion Pleiad, the student newspaper at Albion College, does a joke issue on April Fool's Day, publishing as The Plebian on that day. This year's lead story referenced Hillsdale College, another private institution in Michigan. The headline: "Hillsdale to Close, Albion to Absorb Students." MLive reported that some with ties to Hillsdale were concerned that the report might be true. So Hillsdale asked Albion to have the article removed, and the newspaper did so (but making its own decision, not under orders). The headline and an explanation are still visible on the newspaper's website.
ACPA: College Student Educators International announced Monday that it is moving an assessment institute planned for June in Charlotte, N.C., to Baltimore. Association leaders said the new law in North Carolina, eliminating the right of localities to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and requiring that state agencies limit use of men's and women's rooms to those whose birth certificates indicate those genders, made it impossible for the organization to meet there. ACPA was prepared to take a substantial financial hit on its decision, since it could have been billed for most of the expected hotel charges, but the association said the hotel manager agreed to let the group cancel without penalty if it relocated to a hotel with the chain in another state.
About 200 people are expected at the meeting.
"The current social and political climate in North Carolina cannot provide a hospitable environment for our members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), and our members who do not identify as LGBT do not wish to invest their time and money in places that are intolerant of their colleagues," said a letter on the decision from Cynthia H. Love, executive director.
A new Gallup survey for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation finds students supportive of free expression on campus, but with limits. By a large margin -- 78 percent to 22 percent -- more students say colleges should expose students to all types of speech and viewpoints than say colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment. But in answers to other questions, students differentiate "hate speech" from other speech and many favor college policies to restrict speech that is intentionally offensive to people based on their identities. The full report on the survey is here.
As of Monday evening, nine students continued to occupy the main administration building at Duke University, protesting what they see as poor treatment by the university of its employees. One of the grievances concerns an accident involving Tallman Trask, Duke’s executive vice president, who a parking attendant has charged hit her with his car and used a racial slur before a 2014 football game. Trask has apologized for hitting the parking attendant, Shelvia Underwood, which he says was accident, but denied using a racial slur.
On Monday, he issued a public apology to Underwood. "I want to say a word to the Duke community about my interaction with Shelvia Underwood in August 2014, which has been a subject of much recent discussion," said Trask's statement. "While the details of what happened are a matter of disagreement and subject of civil litigation, I recognize that my conduct fell short of the civility and respectful conduct each member of this community owes to every other. I express my apology to Ms. Underwood and to this community and recommit myself to ensuring that these values are upheld for all."
The students occupying the building did not leave as a result of the apology, and others are camping outside the building to express support (above right).
Duke announced Monday that it would not continue negotiations with the students as long as they remain in the administration building, the Allen Building, which has been closed since the students occupied it. "Closing the Allen Building while these negotiations go on has presented a significant disruption to students, faculty, staff and visitors, and cannot continue indefinitely. As a result, the university will only continue negotiations after the nine students voluntarily leave the Allen Building," said a statement from Duke.
The University of California announced Monday that undergraduate admissions offers to California residents are up 14.7 percent over last year in the university system. The university has been criticized for in recent years for upping its out-of-state admissions offers (to students who pay much higher tuition rates). The admissions offers this year follow a deal between the university and Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, to create more slots for California residents if the state provides more funds to the system.