Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 3, 2009

The University of Portland, in Oregon, has changed its policies so that the institution grants amnesty on drinking-related matters to students who come forward to report that they have been sexually assaulted, the Willamette Week reported. Many colleges have such exemptions so that students who may have been drinking prior to an incident -- in violation of campus rules and drinking-age laws -- won't feel discouraged from reporting a rape or assault. But until recently, Portland didn't have such an exemption. The change followed a reported assault. The newspaper noted that because the university didn't publicize the new exemption, some students held a protest against the old policy, holding signs accusing the university of being "Screwed UP."

March 3, 2009

New signs of the economic difficulties facing all kinds of colleges: Administrators and staff members at John Carroll University are being required to take two weeks of unpaid leave, while faculty members are being asked to vote on a proposal to cut their salaries, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. ... The University of Washington is cutting 70 jobs from its fund raising operations, citing a drop of 25 percent in the value of the university's endowment, the Associated Press reported.

March 2, 2009

Benedictine University has a new way to help its alumni pay for their children's college tuitions. When alumni have two children who enroll at the Illinois university within a six-year period, the second child receives a 50 percent discount on tuition. A third child doesn't have to pay any tuition at all. Benedictine is not the first institution to offer a sibling scholarship. George Washington University gives a discount to one sibling when another is enrolled at the same time.

March 2, 2009

Adjunct professors, who teach almost one-third of courses at Weber State University, can expect a 7 percent cut in their pay next year, The Ogden Standard reported. University officials announced the plan, and said that adjunct pay would be rolled back to its 2004-5 rates, or about $2,700 per course. Adjuncts at the Utah university do not receive benefits. The state is considering large cuts to higher education budgets, and Weber State officials cited those reductions as requiring the pay cuts. Tenure-track and tenured faculty members will not have their pay cut under the plan, although the reduction would apply to the extra pay those professors receive when they teach extra courses.

March 2, 2009

Alumni of Western Washington University, angry over the university's decision to eliminate football, issued a statement Monday saying that the university has refused offers of gifts of $1 million to restore football -- and that, as a result, many alumni plan to stop giving to the institution. The university responded by stating that many alumni understand the decision. "Western cannot accept donations for the football program since that program no longer exists," the university said. "We cannot ethically commit to maintaining a program based on the hope that additional significant funding might be found in the future. The amount of money required to not only sustain the program today, but also in the years to come, is not a realistic possibility given the tough economic times we're currently facing."

March 2, 2009

Southwestern College, in California, is under fire for a deal in which some of its police academy students are being trained at a facility run by the company previously known as Blackwater, the controversial company known for its security work in Iraq, The Union-Tribune reported. While critics say that the college shouldn't be associated with Xe, as the company is now known, college officials said that their own instructors are doing the training, and that they are just using a facility owned by the company.

March 2, 2009

A leading Congressional Republican is asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan for significantly more information about how the department plans to spend $100 billion in new funds from the economic stimulus package and to monitor how the money is used. Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon wrote Duncan last week to ask how the department will oversee the flow of funds to states and the effectiveness with which states spend the money.

March 2, 2009

When Bill Ayers visits a local campus these days, it's become common for a local politician or two to denounce the appearance. But Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing particularly hard at Millersville University, demanding that a lecture later this month be called off. The Intelligencer Journal reported that Republican legislators have issued repeated statements and called for meetings with state higher education officials about the matter. Millersville has defended the appearance by Ayers, noting that he is coming to the campus in his role as a noted education expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and that there are no plans to use tax dollars for the visit. But Republicans keep talking about the Weather Underground, of which Ayers was once a leader, and suggesting that there could be economic penalties for the university if it lets Ayers appear. One legislator told the newspaper: "I mean, this guy probably committed treason, and why Millersville would want to give him a forum is really beyond my understanding." Another said: "At the end of the day, the institution does utilize tax dollars. ... So there has to be a measure of accountability."

March 1, 2009

States should spend the federal money they receive for higher education from the economic stimulus package in ways that encourage innovation and greater efficiency rather than reinforcing the patterns that got their college systems into trouble in the past, three groups argue in a report released Friday. The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems offer recommendations for how state leaders can use the stimulus funds to "leverage change," including reallocating funds to colleges (private as well as public, two-year as well as four, for-profit as well as nonprofit) that "pursue undergraduate teaching as their first priority") and imposing greater requirements on the colleges that take funds, such as tying them to the institutions' enrollment of disadvantaged students.

March 1, 2009

Safety inspectors found more than a dozen deficiencies in a University of California at Los Angeles laboratory in which a lab assistant was engulfed in flames in a December accident that resulted in burns that killed her, the Los Angeles Times reported. The article quotes one expert as saying that the death was "totally preventable." UCLA has ordered a series of lab safety improvements and is cooperating with ongoing investigations, while not commenting on the specific points outlined in the article. The safety inspection that found the deficiencies was conducted two months before the accident, and the Times reported that the requested changes were not made.

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