Higher Education Quick Takes
Three months after announcing with fanfare its plans to turn an abandoned casino in nearby Atlantic City into a new campus, Stockton University on Tuesday said it was abandoning that plan -- and publicly picking a fight with Donald Trump in the process. Herman Saatkamp, president of the New Jersey public institution, said university officials, "with immense sadness," were ending their efforts to build a residential campus on the site of the former Showboat Casino. Saatkamp said the deal would have required Trump Taj Mahal to forgo a covenant in a 1988 legal agreement that limited development of the property to another casino hotel. Trump refused to do so, according to Stockton's statement. That makes the development project untenable from Stockton's perspective, Saatkamp said.
"Stockton tried to establish a full campus in Atlantic City six times during my tenure as president and got kicked in the teeth each time," he wrote. "This time, we were stabbed in the heart."
Mississippi legislators have drafted and are lining up support for bills that would strip the state's higher education board of the right to hire and fire university presidents, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The bill would create individual boards for each university and give them that power. It is uncertain if the bills will pass, in part because they require supermajority support because they were filed after the normal deadline for legislation. But many lawmakers are endorsing the idea, based in part on their frustrations that the state board has decided not to renew the contract of Dan Jones as chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Also on Tuesday, the Faculty Senate at Mississippi unanimously passed a resolution that the body "expresses its utmost confidence in Chancellor Jones and calls upon the board to immediately reverse its decision and renew his contract."
Grand Canyon University's chances of going private have dropped considerably, the Phoenix Business Journal reported based on an interview with the for-profit college's president. Brian Mueller told the Journal that there was less than a 50 percent chance of the publicly traded company going private or nonprofit. Shareholders refused to accept buyouts to convert the publicly traded company. The company offered to buy out shares for 15 percent more than they're worth. we need to say what that means ... that the company offered to buy out people's shares for 15 percent more than they are now worth? dl. Changed it. -AS
Advocates for public higher education sometimes describe various state plans as efforts to de facto privatize colleges and universities. In Illinois, a Republican legislator has proposed a plan that would literally privatize the state's universities, The News-Gazette reported. The state would give up control over them and instead shift state appropriations to a forgivable loan program for students to pay tuition. Students who graduate in four years would have half their loan forgiven. Then for each year a graduate lives in the state, another eighth of the loan would be forgiven. Those who drop out would have to pay back their loans over a 10-year period. State Senator Bill Brady, sponsor of the bill, admitted that it needed work, but said that it "elevates the discussion" about the future of higher education.
Kalamazoo College is dropping its requirement that applicants submit S.A.T. or A.C.T. scores. The college announced that a faculty committee studied the impact and effectiveness of various admissions requirements. The study at the college found that high school grades were the most accurate predictor of academic performance at Kalamazoo, and that S.A.T. and A.C.T. scores reflected not academic performance, but family economic status.
Charlottesville, Va., police announced Monday that they have been unable to find any evidence of the 2012 fraternity gang rape alleged last year in an article in Rolling Stone. The University of Virginia, where the fraternity is located, requested the investigation after the article was published but before it was widely discredited. A statement from the police noted that the alleged victim (called Jackie in the article) did not cooperate. "Based on the information known to investigators at this time, we find no substantive basis of fact to conclude that an incident occurred that is consistent with the facts as described in the Nov. 19, 2014, Rolling Stone article," concluded the report. "The department’s investigation cannot rule out that something may have happened to 'Jackie' somewhere and at some time on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012. Yet without additional evidence we are simply unable to reach a definitive conclusion."
The president of the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation said a $20 million grant to the University of Mississippi would be rescinded if Dan Jones does not receive a new contract as chancellor of the university, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The money was to have been used for a science building. The board's move, announced Friday, not to renew Jones's contract has sparked a growing number of protests in the state.
Leading scientists are releasing an open letter today urging science museums to cut ties to the Koch brothers, who individually and through their philanthropic arms have been major donors to some museums. The letter says that Charles and David Koch's work to deny climate change makes their giving to science museums suspect. "We are concerned that the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution," the letter says. Museum officials contacted by The New York Times said that donors do not influence museum content, and that the institutions were not planning to limit ties to Koch philanthropy.