Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The board of East Carolina University voted Friday to remove the name of Charles Aycock, a former North Carolina governor who was for years a leader of the segregationist white supremacist movement in the state, from a dormitory (at right). Student and faculty groups have been pushing for the move. The university said that it would create a new Heritage Hall, in which contributions to the university by a number of individuals -- including Aycock -- could be acknowledged with context.

East Carolina's action follows a decision by the board of Clemson University not to rename a campus building that currently honors a white supremacist.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Wright State University has apologized for a menu last week to mark Black History Month. The Dayton Daily News reported that students complained that the menu, which featured fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread next to a photograph of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reinforced stereotypes. Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, which manages dining at Wright State and posted the menu, released a statement that said: "Chartwells celebrates many national events on campus and tries to provide authentic and traditional cuisine to reflect each theme. In no way was the promotion associated with Black History Month meant to be insensitive. We could have done a better job putting this in context of a cultural dining experience. We sincerely apologize.”

Last year, Drake University and Sodexo, which manages dining there, issued a similar apology for a menu.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department is today proposing rules for carrying out the First in the World Program, the Obama administration's effort to stimulate innovation in higher education. The notice, published in Monday's Federal Register, lays out the priorities the department will use in awarding the program's grants in 2016. They are: improving developmental education; improving teaching and learning; improving student support services; developing and using assessments of learning; facilitating pathways to credentialing and transfer; and increasing the effectiveness of financial aid.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 4:25am

Sixty law professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have issued a statement objecting to plans by the University of North Carolina System board to close the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, which is led by a UNC law professor. A committee vote last week to close the center outraged many faculty and others, who said that there was no financial reason to close a center that does not receive state funds, and who said that they believed it was being closed because of board anger at Gene Nichol, the head of the center, for criticizing conservative policies. (Board officials have denied this.)

The statement from the law professors says that the center is much needed. "Over the past decade, our state has experienced the greatest increase in concentrated poverty in the country. The center has continually sought to call attention to this pressing fact, as well as others that many would prefer to ignore. These include that 25 percent of all children live in poverty, including 40 percent of children of color."

Further, the statement says that attacking the center because of political disagreements with its leader sets a dangerous course for higher education. "To the extent that the working group’s recommendation regarding the Poverty Center is based on animus for our colleague and former dean, Gene Nichol, the Poverty Center’s director, we decry it," the statement says. "Professor Nichol has been a prominent and thoughtful critic of proposals that exacerbate inequality and drive low-income people into ever deeper destitution. Punishing a professor for expressing his views – views always carefully supported by facts and rigorous analysis – chills the free speech that is central to the University’s mission. Such active suppression of free speech contravenes the very lifeblood of a public university, where dialogue and dissent must be permitted to survive and indeed to flourish if scholars are to fulfill their missions of contributing to the collective knowledge of the commonwealth."

 

 

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 4:31am

Texas higher education officials are estimating that it will cost them $47 million over six years to comply with the "campus carry" bill moving in the Legislature that would permit people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus, The Houston Chronicle reported. The estimates are based on reports from university systems on the costs they would face to build gun lockers and gun storage facilities, to bolster campus police and to provide training to campus personnel.

 

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, regularly publishes articles and makes appearances to dispute the scholarly consensus on climate change. The New York Times reported that Soon took $1.2 million of fossil-fuel industry support for his work, and in numerous cases didn't cite the funding source, as required by journals in which he has published. Soon declined to talk to The Times, but has in the past denied that his funding in any way influences his findings.

The report prompted U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, to call on oil and coal companies to reveal if they are funding scientific research, The Boston Globe reported.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Missouri at Kansas City on Friday announced that John Norton has resigned as a faculty member of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. He is the second faculty member to quit who was involved in efforts to provide false information to the Princeton Review for its ratings of business schools. In a statement released by the university, Norton said: “I am as passionate as ever about teaching entrepreneurship and innovation to our excellent Bloch School students, but I have reached the conclusion that my role in events of recent weeks may distract from that mission.”

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

On the latest edition of "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, David Hawkins of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and Todd Rinehart of the University of Denver discuss a recent controversy involving presidential influence in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. And in our other segment, the University of Denver's Arthur Jones and Henry Reichman of the American Association of University Professors explore Denver's new approach to employing non-tenure-track faculty -- a possible model for other institutions. Sign up here to be notified of new "This Week" podcasts.

 

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Valerie Smith, dean of the college at Princeton University, was on Saturday named the next president of Swarthmore College. Smith is the author of more than 40 articles and 3 books on African-American literature, culture, film and photography and is the editor or coeditor of 7 volumes.

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 3:00am

A University of Florida assistant football coach was suspended after visiting and speaking with a prospect earlier than National Collegiate Athletic Association rules allow, the N.C.A.A. announced Friday. At the time, the player was a junior in high school. The coach spoke with the prospect outside of his high school last January and received his social media contact information.

"The former coach was able to have personal contact to get the prospect's contact information at a time when coaches who were following the rules were unable to have the same level of contact," Eleanor Myers, the chief hearing officer in the case and a law professor at Temple University, said during a press call.

The university decided to suspend the assistant coach and to end the recruitment of the player. While the N.C.A.A. said it will not impose any additional penalties, the infraction report noted that the coach's actions were "illustrative of a significant problem of football coaches skirting N.C.A.A. legislation."

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