Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 3:00am

A review of sexual misconduct cases that were overseen by a former Indiana University Title IX officer himself accused of sexual assault has found no bias or undue influence and that all the university's processes were followed.

Jason Casares resigned in February as associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator after he was accused of sexual assault in an open letter by the president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration, a position he once held. Casares has denied the accusation, and no charges have been brought against him.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 4:27am

Henry Moore sculpture entitled "Reclining Figure"Columbia students are signing a petition and speaking out against plans to install a Henry Moore sculpture, "Reclining Figure" (at right in another installation of the sculpture), in a prominent place on campus. "The bronze monument, titled 'Reclining Figure,' was sculpted by the noted English artist Henry Moore. It 'is meant to suggest the form of a woman with her legs outstretched before her, propping herself up with her forearm,'" the petition says. "As both inheritors and wards of our beautiful campus, we object to this desecration of our home. Whatever its artistic merits, the sculpture in front of Butler Library will disrupt an otherwise crisp, geometric and symmetrical landscape. Further, Moore’s modernist figure clashes with the neoclassical aesthetic instantly recognizable to generations of Columbians. It will also rob the community of some of the few precious square yards of grass open to the public."

The university gave this statement to The New York Times: “Discussing the merits of Moore’s sculpture is a conversation quintessentially appropriate for a university community. Successive generations of Columbia students, with their own strong opinions, will no doubt continue debating whether this modernist work of art enhances or diminishes our classically beautiful Morningside campus.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Top students at the University of the People, a tuition-free online institution, will be eligible to transfer to the University of California at Berkeley to finish their bachelor's degrees. The two universities on Monday announced an articulation agreement under which UC Berkeley will consider UoPeople's top associate degree graduates for admission. This is the first agreement of its kind UoPeople has signed with a U.S.-based campus. The university in 2011 formed a similar partnership with New York University at Abu Dhabi.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 3:00am

St. Thomas University in Canada will shut down its men's hockey team because of a universitywide budget deficit at the institution, in New Brunswick. St. Thomas officials said they will save $245,000 annually with the move, which they said was necessary to protect other priorities.

CBC News cited an email that the university's president, Dawn Russell, sent to students in which she said that the university could no longer afford to keep a team in its highly competitive league.

"We also cannot overlook the fact that men's hockey in the Atlantic University Sport is the most competitive conference in the country, a near professional level of competition, and requires a significant financial commitment," Russell wrote.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute: Susan Snyder, assistant professor in the school of social work at Georgia State University, discusses why problematic use of the Internet can have adverse effects on key areas of a college student’s life.

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 3:00am

A U.S. district court judge has once again taken a look at three publishers' case against Georgia State University's e-reserve and ruled that, in 41 of 48 cases, no copyright infringement took place. The ruling, a 220-page walk-through that applies the four-part fair-use test to each of the 48 cases, is seen by copyright experts as a complicated decision that won't be of much help to universities in determining fair use, as it relies on revenue data not normally available. Still, observers described it as a win for proponents of fair use and another loss for the publishers.

"This ruling, like each ruling in the case, is clearly a disaster for the plaintiff publishers," Kevin Smith, director of the office of copyright and scholarly communication at Duke University, said in a blog post. "Once again it establishes that there is significant space for fair use in higher education, even when that use is not transformative. Nevertheless, it is a difficult victory for libraries, in the sense that the analysis it uses is not one we can replicate; we simply do not have access to the extensive data about revenue, of which [U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans] makes such complex use."

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 4:22am

Harvard and Princeton Universities have released their responses to questions from members of Congress about the way they use their endowments. The questions come amid heightened scrutiny of the wealthiest universities. Both the Harvard and Princeton letters to Congress stress common themes, including the way their endowments are not general funds but collections of endowments donated for different purposes, and that the endowments directly support undergraduate student aid among many other purposes. A cover letter on Harvard's response, from President Drew Faust, said that her university's endowment should be viewed as 13,000 separate funds. Princeton's letter indicated that its endowment is made up of 4,300 separate accounts.

Harvard's endowment (at more than $36 billion) is the largest in the nation, and Princeton's (at nearly $23 billion) is the fourth, according to the latest data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund.

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 3:00am

Nine students on Friday occupied the portion of an administration building that houses the offices of the president and other senior administrators. The students (and supporters who have gathered outside the building) have demanded the dismissals of several Duke administrators, including 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, which he says was accident, but denied using a racial slur. Duke has said that the incident was investigated and that it can't comment on details of some of the accusations because the attendant is suing the university.

Many of the other demands relate to Duke's treatment of its employees, and a university statement said, "Duke University has well-established internal and legal processes for addressing concerns of any employee, regardless of their position. These are spelled out in the university’s human resources policies, and are covered by state and federal law."

Students who organized the protest have received wide attention on social media under the hashtag #DismantleDukePlantation.

On Sunday, Duke announced that the administration building would be closed today while negotiations with the students continue. In addition, the university announced that it will not punish the students. "In order to facilitate productive dialogue and move towards a peaceful resolution, the nine students will not be subject to student conduct sanctions and legal penalties for their actions," said a statement from the university.

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 3:00am

Many groups are talking about staying away from North Carolina in the wake of an antigay, antitransgender law enacted there that bars localities from banning discrimination, and that bans public colleges and other state agencies from opening men's and women's bathrooms to transgender people who were not born with the gender specified by the room. The Council on Undergraduate Research is going ahead with its National Conference on Undergraduate Research this week at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. More than 4,000 are registered for the meeting, where undergraduates present their research findings on various projects. At least two universities -- one in New York State and one in Washington State -- have announced that their students will not attend due to gubernatorially imposed bans on the use of state funds to travel to North Carolina.

The Council on Undergraduate Research has as one of its operating principles that programs should promote "diversity and inclusion."

Elizabeth L. Ambos, executive officer of the group, said that CUR was working with officials at UNC Asheville to make sure that all students would feel welcome and would have access to gender-neutral bathrooms. Via email, Ambos added: "CUR is disappointed and concerned that recent legal actions in North Carolina may affect the attendance of some students and faculty at NCUR this year, and that some attendees may feel less than welcome. In keeping with our strategic pillar of diversity and inclusion, we remain committed to the wide expression of all forms and topics of undergraduate research, by all members of the undergraduate research community, and view with great concern any actions that affect inclusivity with respect to the fullest expression of undergraduate research. It is our hope that the recent unfortunate legislative decisions will not overshadow the recognition of our nation’s budding scholars and leaders at NCUR 2016."

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 3:00am

Alabama A&M University fired Edward Jones, a tenured professor, after finding videos of him having oral sex with two students, AL.com reported. Jones was most recently director of the teacher education and certification program at the university. His lawyer declined to comment, but Jones has sued the university, charging it with harassing him for raising concerns about various administrative issues at the institution.

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