Higher Education Quick Takes
DENVER – Members of the American Anthropological Association voted in favor of a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a 1,040 to 136 margin at the association’s annual business meeting on Friday evening. The resolution will be put to a vote by the full AAA membership in the spring.
Anthropologists at the business meeting also rejected an anti-boycott resolution by a 1,173 to 196 margin.
Proponents of the academic boycott see it as a way of protesting Israel’s occupation of territories obtained in the 1967 war and of standing up for the rights of Palestinians. Some anthropologists and many other academics oppose the boycott because they believe it will stigmatize Israeli scholars and damage the study of anthropology without likely having any effect on Israeli policy.
A motion calling on the AAA to divest from corporations that "profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation" also passed on Friday. But because that motion was introduced on the floor (as opposed to the two resolutions, which were submitted in advance), it will go to the association’s executive board for its consideration and will not automatically be placed on the spring ballot.
Inside Higher Ed will have more coverage of the association's vote soon.
Moody's Investors Service is projecting weak growth -- 2 to 3 percent -- in net tuition revenue in the next year. Such growth is a key indicator of financial health for many colleges and universities. In a report released Thursday, Moody's said that these levels are close to the inflationary expense increases faced by colleges, ending many years in which net tuition rates increased at higher levels.
Moody's said net tuition revenue remains "muted" for most of the sector because "a focus on affordability, flat or declining enrollment, and state-imposed tuition limits" restricts institutions' ability or willingness to raise tuition
The report found that first-year tuition discounting is nearing 50 percent for many private universities, although the most highly rated universities continue to maintain stronger pricing power than the sector as a whole. Conversely, Moody's found that private colleges with regional, instead of national, brands -- particularly in areas of the country where the number of high school graduates is declining -- have the least pricing power.
Lower enrollment levels are also contributing to lower tuition revenue growth at colleges and universities. Moody's found that 40 percent of universities estimate lower total enrollment for 2015 compared to 2010.
Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday defended itself from an assertion by the Tor Project that the university received “at least $1 million” from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to unmask suspects behind crimes committed on the "dark web." The university's Software Engineering Institute was last week pegged as the "university-based research institute" that helped the FBI track down and arrest a Seattle man working on the online black market known as "Silk Road 2.0."
"In the course of its work, the university from time to time is served with subpoenas requesting information about research it has performed," the university said in a statement. "The university abides by the rule of law, complies with lawfully issued subpoenas and receives no funding for its compliance."
The University of Cambridge has dropped a fund-raising video because many objected to its inclusions of David Starkey, a noted historian of Tudor England whose comments on modern society have been criticized as racist by many, The Telegraph reported. An open letter to the university said that including Starkey made many other alumni uncomfortable about being featured in the video or contributing to the fund-raising campaign. Cambridge officials said that they always planned to take down the video, but did so early because of concerns they were hearing. Starkey told the Telegraph: “I was asked to contribute by the university, which I love, and to which I owe a profound debt. In due course, the university will decide what is right, proper and expedient. I shall be happy to accept that decision."
Students and faculty members of Mills College rallied on campus Wednesday in protest of $250,000 in proposed cuts to adjunct salaries on top of $3 million in cuts to arts, language, ethic studies and public policy programs. The college is struggling to stay afloat amid declining enrollment and persistent budget deficits. Service Employees International Union, which represents adjunct faculty on the campus, says the cuts would disproportionately affect part-time faculty and put its liberal arts mission at risk. “We do not understand how, at an institution committed to social justice and equity, such disparity exists between those who serve the college’s central educational missions, and those who have made decisions about its future without faculty input, and on the backs of its most vulnerable members,” Sandra Banks, a visiting assistant professor of chemistry, said in a statement.
Sharon Washington, interim provost and dean of the faculty, said in a separate statement that it is “standard for colleges to regularly re-examine their curriculum and Mills is no exception.” Mills “is committed to sustaining itself as a leader in higher education. This means that we must evolve,” she added. “We must build on our contemporary liberal arts education with flexible programs and curriculum that will distinguish us as a college and serve our students well into the next century.”
More than two years after the National Institutes of Health said it would sharply reduce the role of chimpanzees in its research efforts, the biomedical research agency went further Wednesday, announcing that it would close its remaining colony of 50 chimps and end federal research involving the primates. The statement from Director Francis S. Collins said that studies involving other nonhuman primates would continue to be "valued, supported and conducted by the NIH."
Professors trade stories about students who invent ailments as excuses not to complete course requirements. A photo going viral Wednesday shows a student meeting a deadline for taking an online test -- even while experiencing real pain. Tommitrise Collins finished an exam for her psychology course at Middle Georgia State University while in labor at the hospital and shortly before having a healthy baby girl. Shanell Brinkley-Chapman, her sister, took the photo and posted it to Facebook, writing: "This is what you call strong priorities. Contractions three minutes apart and still takes her psychology test! You are going to be a great mom, baby sis!"
The White House and the U.S. Department of State are hosting college administrators and student leaders today for a meeting on climate change, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The goal of the meeting is to call for action on climate change, including for a strong agreement at a meeting the United Nations is hosting in Paris in a couple weeks.
"Participating colleges and universities will have already signed a White House Act on Climate Pledge (working title) demonstrating their commitment to carrying out their own sustainability goals and supporting strong action on climate change by world leaders," the association said.