Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 19, 2019

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is exploring how to more openly share its publications, data, software and educational materials with the public.

MIT’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access, which began work 18 months ago, published a series of recommendations for the institution to strengthen its open-access policies on March 18. These include broadening the existing MIT Faculty Open Access Policy to cover student publications.

The task force also recommended that MIT ratify a set of open science principles, create an open-access fund for monographs and work with department heads to encourage open practices across all disciplines.

Members of the campus can provide feedback on the recommendations until April 17.

March 19, 2019

Santa Clara County may require Stanford University to nearly quadruple its planned number of employee housing units to secure permission for a campus expansion, The Almanac reported. Stanford wants to build up to 2.3 million square feet of new academic space, 2,600 student beds and 550 units of housing for faculty and staff members. But the county’s proposal, which is still subject to approval by its Board of Supervisors, would require Stanford to build at least an additional 1,622 units of employee housing. A majority of the employee units would have to be built on campus. According to one analysis, Stanford’s expansion plan would bring an estimated 9,610 new people to the campus.

E. J. Miranda, university spokesperson, said via email that Stanford is studying the county’s draft conditions of approval. But building “that level of housing would create more environmental and community impacts than the university’s proposal,” he said. Many colleges in and around the San Francisco Bay face challenges with respect to both student and employee housing that is affordable.

March 19, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, part of USC Dornsife Week, Megan Carroll, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Southern California, looks at what she calls “incidental activism.” Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 18, 2019

Federal investigators say Frank Segui of New York planned to travel to Michigan to kill a professor for whom he once worked as a research assistant, according to the Associated Press. Segui was arrested last month before boarding a bus to Detroit, allegedly to buy an ax and murder the unnamed professor, whom he blamed for his inability to find a job. He appeared in federal court last week on charges of stalking and sending threatening communications. Segui is accused of telling the professor via email that he does “not deserve life.”

March 18, 2019

Post-St. Patrick's Day will be business as usual at the University of Dayton, which advised its professors not to cancel classes today and to “set high expectations for class attendance,” such as by scheduling quizzes or tests during class time -- and warning students to be sober.

“Tell them ahead of time that you will ask them to leave if they come to class inebriated and that you will make a report to the dean of students if they engage in disruptive or disrespectful behavior that interferes with others’ learning in the classroom,” reads a recent memo from the provost’s office. Faculty members “have both the authority and responsibility to establish standards for the learning environment in your class. This includes, among other things, establishing classroom policies related to attendance, participation, phone or computer use, preparedness and (relevant to St. Patrick’s Day) sobriety.”

The missive was prompted by what it described as “questions about the authority and responsibility faculty have to manage their classrooms -- especially but not only with regard to potential student misconduct on or around St. Patrick’s Day.”

Today is also the first day of classes after Dayton's spring break. But Paul Benson, provost, said in a statement that the letter is sent every year and is "another tool the university is using to emphasize its expectations for student behavior relating to St. Patrick's Day. The letter reflects long-standing policies regarding faculty authority to address classroom conduct."

March 18, 2019

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March 18, 2019

The Department of Education on Friday released new guidance on the 2016 borrower-defense rule instructing colleges to drop enforcement of mandatory arbitration agreements.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos blocked the rule from taking effect in 2017, but after a legal battle with consumer advocates and several states, she was ordered by a federal court to carry out the rule in October.

The department has made little progress on a backlog of borrower-defense claims from student borrowers who claim they were defrauded or misled by their colleges. But in December, it carried out one part of the rule by canceling $150 million in student loan debt held by borrowers whose colleges closed had closed since November 2013, most of them former Corinthian Colleges students.

The Obama administration rule also barred colleges from enforcing mandatory arbitrary agreements that prevented students from taking their complaints to a court. In the new guidance last week, the Education Department told institutions that they may no longer compel a student to address their complaint through an internal resolution process.

March 18, 2019

Bradley University on Friday banned a longtime sports reporter from attending basketball events because he wrote some articles that did not promote the university's brand. But amid widespread criticism, the university reversed itself and apologized Saturday. President Gary Roberts issued a statement indicating that he had been unaware of the ban and that it was inconsistent with the university's policies. "I personally and Bradley University institutionally do not believe that it is the job or duty of anyone in the media or any media outlet to promote Bradley’s brand. It is the media’s job to report the news and facts in a truthful and unbiased way and occasionally to express opinions that are reasoned and based on accurate facts as best they know them," said Roberts.

March 18, 2019

A bipartisan group of lawmakers last week reintroduced the College Transparency Act, legislation that would produce new data on program-level college student outcomes like graduate earnings and loan repayment.

In place of Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who retired this year, the bill will be carried by Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican. Other chief co-sponsors of the bill include Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

A federal ban on student-level data has been in place since 2008, and private colleges in particular continue to hold reservations about a federal data system. But bipartisan momentum has gathered behind the legislation. The bill has 17 co-sponsors, two more than the total in the previous Congress.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, suggested in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute last month that the College Transparency Act was one of several bipartisan bills that could be included in a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

March 18, 2019

Adjunct professors at Elon University voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, 112 to 68, the News & Record reported. Elon said in a statement that it’s “gathering further information about the results and process of the election and will soon make a decision on next steps.”


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