Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 8, 2009

Pennsylvania State University is trying a new strategy to raise funds for student aid. The Associated Press reported that the university is sending an appeal to the parents of students who were admitted to the honors college (who get a $3,500 merit scholarship) and who didn't apply for need-based aid. The appeal notes that the bad economy has increased demand for need-based aid, and asks parents to donate back the merit scholarship. So far, Penn State officials have raised $228,000 through the appeal.

September 8, 2009

Hundreds of students at Howard University, along with unionized workers, held a rally Friday to protest problems with campus housing and delays in financial aid grants being awarded, The Washington Post reported. Students -- who said that the delays are making it impossible to pay their bills -- at one point threatened a sit-in but pulled back from that idea. A Howard spokeswoman said that university leaders would meet with student leaders this week in an attempt to deal with the problems.

September 4, 2009

A Spelman College sophomore was shot and killed by a stray bullet during a conflict late Wednesday between a group of students and non-students on the campus of nearby Clark Atlanta University, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The two colleges are part of the Atlanta University Center, which also includes Morehouse College and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Another student from Clark Atlanta was also wounded by an errant gunshot. Spelman's president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, said in a statement on the college's Web site Thursday that "words cannot express the sadness I feel about the tragic loss" of Jasmine Lynn, "the result of senseless violence." Also Thursday, police officers arrested three men who were involved in an incident that resulted in the shooting of a student at California's Skyline College, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The men who were arrested were not responsible for shooting the student; they were reportedly allies of the student who was shot, and two of the three men were enrolled at Skyline. Police are still hunting for the men responsible for the shooting.

September 4, 2009

Harvard University this week unveiled its open database of faculty research, with more than a third of its arts and sciences faculty members participating so far. Since the faculty of the main undergraduate college voted in February 2008 to support the system known as Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard, in which professors' scholarly works are automatically included in the online repository unless they specifically opt for them not to be, Harvard's law, government and education schools have also agreed to participate.

September 4, 2009

The Board of Trustees at Montgomery College voted late Thursday to end the presidency of Brian K. Johnson, amid faculty discontent over his alleged misspending and reports that he faces prison time in Arizona for non-payment of child support. The faculty at the two-year institution in Washington's Maryland suburbs voted no confidence in Johnson last week, citing evidence they'd accumulated that he had spent tens of thousands of dollars on questionable expenses. And Thursday, The Washington Times reported that police officers in Arizona have a warrant out for his arrest that would land him in jail if he returned to the state. In a statement, the chairman of the college's board said it had decided not to renew Johnson's contract and had placed him on administrative leave immediately. Johnson came to Montgomery College from the Community College of Allegheny County just two years ago.

September 4, 2009

Alabama's Stillman College canceled its home football opener scheduled this weekend because players had flu-like symptoms and officials did not want to risk spreading the illness further, The Tuscaloosa News reported. “I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore the possibility of putting our team, fans and the general public at risk,” Curtis Campbell, Stillman’s director of athletics, told the newspaper. Guidelines issued for campuses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that colleges consider calling off large events if they are seeing significant numbers of cases of the H1N1 virus, and some sports officials have begun crafting contingency plans.

September 4, 2009

Oakland University, in Michigan, canceled its first day of classes Thursday after the faculty union’s decision to strike because of a continuing contract dispute. Lizabeth Barclay, grievance officer for the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said that in her more than two decades at Oakland she could not remember another time when the university canceled classes because of a labor dispute. Typically, she noted, only a small percentage of faculty members end up going on strike, and the university can continue on with classes. Indeed, late Wednesday night, as contract negotiations dragged without promise, Oakland issued an alert to students, encouraging them to “remain prepared for classes during [the] work stoppage.” The decision to cancel classes, however, came at 10 a.m. Thursday, after a number were scheduled to begin on the campus. David Groves, an Oakland spokesman, declined comment on the change of plans and the contract talks. Barclay said that the university and the union have agreed to continue negotiating through the Labor Day weekend. This current dispute is not the first indication of discontent at Oakland. Last year, the administration locked its senior administrative offices to the public, and several faculty members said that secretaries would let them in only if they had appointments.

September 4, 2009

What's the saying about glass houses? The chief lawyer for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has sent letters to Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina asking about their use of state-owned or leased aircraft, and who travels on such flights, The Greenville News reported. The article noted that the governor's new interest in such issues comes as the governor is facing a barrage of criticism over his use of state planes and his travel expenses for trips on which state business may not have been the only item on the agenda.

September 4, 2009

Unions representing more than 60,000 professional staff members and graduate students at the University of California's 10 campuses voted no confidence Thursday in President Mark G. Yudof, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Union officials said that 96 percent of those who voted turned thumbs down on Yudof, many citing unhappiness at how the president and other administrators have handled the university's budget crisis.

September 4, 2009

Gallaudet University has announced four finalists to become its next president -- and all of them are deaf and use sign language, The Washington Post reported. Gallaudet's presidential selections are among the most scrutinized by students and others who care about the university because the president is seen as a national figure in discussions of deaf people. Sustained protests of some past selections have led to withdrawals and considerable debate. The candidates for the opening are: T. Alan Hurwitz, president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf; Roslyn Rosen, director of the National Center on Deafness at California State University at Northridge; Ronald J. Stern, superintendent and chief executive of the New Mexico School for the Deaf; and Stephen F. Weiner, provost of Gallaudet.

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