Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 22, 2009

Sixty-two percent of public college and university board chairs and executives believe that the current economic downturn is having a "significant" impact on their institutions, according to a new survey by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Nearly 80 percent of boards reported facing an operating budget cut of at least 5 percent this year. Boards appear to be stepping up their activity in reaction to the cuts. Asked about changes in practices, 26 percent reported additional meetings or conference calls of the entire board, and 28 percent reported additional meetings or conference calls of the board's executive committee.

April 21, 2009

A state audit has found that the University of Tennessee reported receiving $6.4 million in donations last year that the university never in fact received, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The missing gifts -- most for athletics -- were in pledges that were never paid. University officials said that they have since made the necessary adjustments in accounting statements.

April 21, 2009

Three students at Lewis University, in Illinois, have been charged with disorderly conduct in an incident in which they are alleged to have made racial slurs to students in the dormitory room below theirs, and to have then lowered a noose outside the dormitory window, the Chicago Tribune reported.

April 21, 2009

Three academics won Pulitzer Prizes in the arts on Monday. In fiction, the winner was Elizabeth Strout, who is on the M.F.A. faculty at Queens University in North Carolina. She won for Olive Kitteridge (Random House), a collection of short stories. In drama, the winner was Lynn Nottage, a visiting lecturer at the Yale School of Drama who was honored for the play Ruined. And in history, the winner was Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law at New York Law School, who won for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton).

April 21, 2009

What can you make with 23 plastic bottles? A graduation gown, it turns out. Tis the season (almost), and Oak Hall Cap & Gown, a company that counts more than 1,600 colleges as clients, has announced a new GreenWeaver line, featuring caps and gowns composed of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

April 21, 2009

The Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors has weighed in on the controversy surrounding President Obama's upcoming commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, which some Roman Catholics oppose due to the president's support for abortion rights. In its statement, the AAUP chapter expresses support for Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, for standing by the invitation, and expresses concern about "the efforts of external groups to prevent President Obama or any other invited guest from speaking on campus. ... Notre Dame has a worthy tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at commencement even though none agree with all aspects of Catholic dogma. To disinvite a commencement speaker over public policy disagreements is an anathema to open discourse." President Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree at Notre Dame, and the sixth to be commencement speaker.

April 21, 2009

The Institute for Creation Research is suing Texas for the right to award master's degrees in the state. The Dallas Morning News reported that the suit charges the state with discriminating against the institute based on its views of evolution (on which the institute differs from mainstream science). The institute wants to award master's degrees to people who plan to teach science, and says it will teach evolution even as it also teaches creationism. Texas has not authorized the degrees and many science groups have been alarmed at the prospect of the institute training science teachers.

April 21, 2009

A California grand jury on Monday unsealed indictments charging two animal rights activists with 10 counts of threatening scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported. UCLA has become a top target for vandalism and threats by radical animal rights groups. The two who were indicted pleaded not guilty and are being held in custody.

April 20, 2009

Colby College has become the latest institution to shift its admissions policies with regard to standardized testings for applicants. Colby has until now required all students to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college has approved a five-year experiment in which applicants will have the option of instead submitted three SAT subject test scores.

April 20, 2009

A legislative committee in Oregon on Friday amended a bill -- which would have required public colleges and universities to interview minority candidates before hiring football coaches -- to apply the requirement to include head coaches in all sports as well as other key positions in the athletics department, The Oregonian reported. Advocates for black coaches have pushed colleges to adopt such rules, noting the relative scarcity of black head coaches -- even in teams with many black athletes.

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