A gun was misfired in a dormitory at Tarleton State University last week, in the second month in which Texas has made it much easier for students to have guns with them on campus, The Texas Tribune reported. The university said that no one was hurt and that there was only "minimal property damage."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Chicago State University's board on Friday approved a deal to pay $600,000 to end the presidency of Thomas Calhoun Jr., the Chicago Tribune reported. Many faculty and student leaders say Calhoun has done a good job at the financially struggling university and shouldn't be fired. Many spoke out at the board meeting where trustees -- without saying why they wanted Calhoun out -- approved the deal.
The American Geophysical Union has reaffirmed its position on teaching Earth history and evolution. “Scientific theories of Earth history and biological evolution are fundamental to understanding the natural world, are supported by extensive evidence and are noncontroversial within the scientific community,” the union’s updated statement says. “These principles of scientific understanding must be central elements of science education.”
The union says that no “alternative explanations” for biological evolution have been found, and that explanations of natural phenomena that appeal “to the supernatural based on religious doctrine -- and therefore cannot be tested through scientific inquiry -- are not scientific, and have no place in the science classroom. … To deny students a full understanding of the theory of evolution in the context of Earth history is to deprive them of an important part of their intellectual heritage.”
Jana Davis, chief scientist of the Chesapeake Bay Trust and chair of the union's Position Statement Task Force, said in a separate statement that “Just as scientific theories are subject to revision as knowledge and research grows, [the union’s] position statements are regularly revisited to ensure they’re in line with current understanding. … As a leader in the Earth and space science community, it is important for [the union] to be a strong voice for communicating accurate science to young audiences and inspiring young people to pursue advanced study of the sciences through early exposure to Earth and space science.”
The union also revised its position statement on K-12 science education to reflect new teaching standards from the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Achieve, saying that citizens “require a solid understanding of the Earth and space sciences to address responsibly many of the issues confronting society, such as climate change, natural hazards and resource availability.”
Claflin University has ended a policy of barring pregnant students from living in its dormitories. The university announced this month that it was ending a previous policy for pregnant students and would abide by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. NBC News provided the background: in 2015, the university kicked a pregnant student out of a dormitory and also refused to refund the rent the student had paid. The student sued and the university recently settled the case.
Baylor University's football team defeated that of Rice University Friday night, but the Rice band may have attracted the most attention. In an attempt to remind Baylor fans of the university's now admitted mishandling of numerous sex assault charges against athletes, the band formed a IX (as a reference to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) in front of the Baylor fan area. The IX was followed by a star formation, while playing the song "Hit the Road, Jack," an apparent reference to Ken Starr, who left the presidency of Baylor amid the scandal of the university's handling of sex assaults.
Rice issued a statement Saturday distancing itself from the band's performance, saying, "The Marching Owl Band, or MOB, has a tradition of satirizing the Rice Owls’ football opponents. In this case, the band’s calling attention to the situation at Baylor was subject to many different interpretations. Although the band’s halftime shows are entirely the members’ projects with no prior review by the university administration, we regret any offense, particularly if Baylor fans may have felt unwelcome in our stadium. While we know that the MOB did not intend in any way to make light of the serious issue of sexual assault, we are concerned that some people may have interpreted the halftime performance in that vein. Sexual assault is a matter of serious concern on campuses across the nation, and all of us have an obligation to address the matter with all the tools at our disposal. The MOB sought to highlight the events at Baylor by satirizing the actions or inactions of the Baylor administration, but it is apparent from the comments of many spectators and Baylor fans that the MOB’s effort may have gone too far."
Paine College announced on Saturday that it would sue the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after its college commission rejected Paine's appeal of SACS' June decision to strip the college's accreditation. The regional accrediting agency said at the time that Paine had failed to comply with several standards related to its financial standing and operations.
"We are disappointed that SACSCOC chose to ignore the voluminous evidence demonstrating that Paine College is a vibrant, financially stable institution," said Barbara E. Bouknight, chair of Paine's Board of Trustees. "It is deeply distressing that SACSCOC has removed us from membership when our financial condition has improved so markedly over the last few years. We are also deeply disturbed by the process that led to this result."
Wesleyan University in Connecticut settled with a professor who accused it of botching a sexual harassment claim against a former dean. Lauren Caldwell, an associate professor of classical studies, sued Wesleyan earlier this year for allegedly mishandling her report of sexual harassment by Andrew Curran, a professor of romance languages and literature. Curran was dean of arts and humanities at the time of the alleged harassment, which Caldwell said included inappropriate sexual references and calling her “white trash.” The university did not follow protocols in dealing with her complaint, according to Caldwell’s suit, and she was eventually singled out for disparate treatment both by Curran and other administrators in retaliation for coming forward. A judge dismissed Caldwell’s suit after lawyers reported the settlement, according to the Associated Press. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. A Wesleyan spokesperson declined comment.
Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today our latest print-on-demand compilation, "The Future of Educational Materials and the Role of the College Bookstore." You may download the booklet, free, here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on the themes of the booklet, on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. Eastern.
George Washington University announced Saturday that it was dismissing its men's basketball coach, Mike Lonergan, amid charges that he had verbally abused players and acted irrationally. The Washington Post reported in July that some of the head coach's players had complained to administrators about how he treated them, following a significant number of transfers to other institutions in recent years. Lonergan dismissed the players' complaints at the time as anonymous griping.
The university's statement, from Provost Forrest Maltzman, said that its investigation into the charges "concluded that Coach Lonergan had engaged in conduct inconsistent with the university’s values."
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released a virtually comprehensive look at how long it took American college graduates in 2015 to earn their degrees. The new report is based on completion data for two million students who that year earned either an associate or bachelor's degree. It includes information on students who previously dropped out or transferred, which many other data sets struggle to capture.
The time-to-degree numbers include both students' active academic enrollment time and calendar years. Doug Shapiro, the center's executive research director, said the report is based in part on a complex measure devised to account for active enrollment, including factors such as part-time enrollment, colleges' varying academic schedules and students who were enrolled concurrently in multiple institutions.
On average, bachelor's degree earners from four-year, public institutions spent 5.2 academic years of full-time equivalent enrollment over a span of 5.6 calendar years. Students graduating from four-year private colleges took slightly less time to earn degrees: 4.8 academic years over 5.4 calendar years. Four-year for-profits had an average time to degree of 5.8 years across 8.8 calendar years.
On the community college side, the associate-degree earner had an average of 3.3 academic years of enrollment over 5.6 calendar years.
“Each additional term or semester has the potential to increase the cost to the student, both through forgone earnings and additional tuition expenses,” Shapiro said in a written statement. “Yet, spells of part-time enrollment and nonenrollment often enable students to mitigate these effects by combining earning and learning. Families and policy makers need to plan accordingly for this new reality.”