Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 22, 2016 - 4:15am

Ken Starr (at right) has resigned from his faculty position at the law school of Baylor University. Starr left the presidency in May amid widespread criticism (including from a report commissioned by the university) of Baylor's handling of sexual assault allegations, particularly those involving athletes. He was originally to stay on as chancellor and law professor. In June, he resigned as chancellor. On Friday, Baylor and Starr issued a joint statement that said in part, “Effective today, Judge Ken Starr will be leaving his faculty status and tenure at Baylor University’s Law School. The mutually agreed separation comes with the greatest respect and love Judge Starr has for Baylor and with Baylor’s recognition and appreciation for Judge Starr’s many contributions to Baylor.”

In an interview with The Waco Tribune, Starr said that the university wanted him to leave. “Frankly, the university determined that it wanted a break in the employment relationship, so I’ve accepted that decision and will, of course, honor the decision,” he said.

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Albany dropped a November basketball game at Duke University because New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has barred nonessential travel by state agencies to North Carolina. The ban is a protest of North Carolina's law that blocks antibias rules from protecting gay people and also bars state agencies from letting transgender people use bathrooms that reflect their identities. Marist College, also in New York state but as a private institution not covered by Cuomo's ban, announced that it will take Albany's place.

Many on social media have questioned Marist's decision. In an open letter to the college's president, Joseph Amodeo, an alumnus wrote that "Marist appears to have gleefully accepted the offer to play even with full knowledge of the fact they would be going against Albany’s principled decision for declining the match …. Marist’s decision to demonstrate a complete disregard for the governor’s order, Albany’s reasoning for withdrawing and the well-being of Marist’s LGBTQ students, athletes and alumni is deeply concerning. Further, the college’s participation in this match threatens to convey a message that Marist is willing to simply accept North Carolina’s legalized discrimination solely for the purpose of playing a basketball game."

Marist issued a statement saying that it too opposes the North Carolina law, HB2, and that replacing Albany does not represent support for the law. "Reasonable people can disagree about whether a college should ever participate in a boycott of a state (or country) that passes laws or engages in behavior that we find abhorrent," the statement says. "It is worth noting that hundreds, if not thousands, of colleges still plan to send sports teams, musical groups, admissions recruiters, etc. to North Carolina (and other states that have laws which discriminate against the LGBT community). In addition, while the National Basketball Association moved its all-star game from North Carolina, it did not cancel the Charlotte Hornets' season."

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 3:00am

Germany’s interior minister on Friday proposed banning full face veils worn by some Muslim women, The New York Times reported. The ban would apply to universities and schools, when driving, in court, or at passport control checkpoints.

A similar law passed in 2010 in France and justified on public safety grounds has been criticized for further marginalizing Muslim women. The German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said that women who wish to wear full face veils should not teach or work as civil servants.

“We want to make it a legal requirement to show your face in places where that is necessary for the cohesion of our society,” he said.

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 3:00am

Hiram College has become the latest college to drop an SAT or ACT requirement for admissions, but the college limits this option to those with a high school grade point average of at least 2.8 in college preparatory courses.

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Julia Jaekel, assistant professor in the department of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, explains why keeping homeland child-caring practices should be important for all refugee mothers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 3:00am

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools this week said it will decide whether or not to sanction ITT Technical Institutes after a hearing scheduled for December, according to a federal filing from ITT. The controversial for-profit chain earlier this year was told by the national accreditor, which itself is facing existential scrutiny, to prove why it should not lose its accreditation and, subsequently, access to federal financial aid.

The possible punishment, ACICS has said, is due to a wide range of legal and financial challenges ITT faces, including several federal and state lawsuits. The accreditor held a hearing on the matter earlier this month but opted to continue the review at its December meeting.

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's student loan ombudsman released a report Thursday documenting consumer complaints about needless hassles borrowers face in applying for income-based repayment of student loans. The report said delays in applications can leave students with thousands in extra costs.

"Too many student loan borrowers are struggling to take advantage of their right to pay based on how much money they make," said Ombudsman Seth Frotman. "Services who want to better serve their customers can take the immediate steps recommended in this report to clean up this broken process."

About five million borrowers had enrolled in income-based repayment plans as of the first quarter of this year, according to a release from the CFPB. But the agency says many more eligible borrowers are not benefiting from the program, leading to needless defaults. The CFPB has produced a "fix it form" for loan servicers to provide borrowers seeking income-based repayment with a clearer understanding of the status of their application or the reasons for rejection.

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 3:00am

It's common for sorority recruitment videos, with their increasingly lavish production values and imagery, to go viral. One widely shared video -- featuring hot air balloon rides, members performing yoga on rocks and soaring drone footage -- drew attention earlier this month after some estimated that it could have cost as much as $400,000 to produce (the sorority says it only cost "a few thousand dollars").

The latest video to gain such notoriety is quaint in comparison, consisting only of Alpha Delta Pi members at the University of Texas at Austin gathered in their house's doorway and singing the sorority's chant. But it has led to criticism familiar to sororities and their recruitment videos: there appears to be little diversity among its members.

The original video has since been removed.

Sara Kennedy, a spokeswoman for UT, said in a statement that while sororities are independent organizations, the university is committed to diversity. "All our staff are directly and actively engaged in promoting and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, working with our students through development and leadership programming, advising, and organizational support," Kennedy said.

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Arik Kershenbaum, research fellow in the department of zoology at the University of Cambridge, delves into whether our pets actually understand what we’re saying. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 4:31am

The University of California, Berkeley, paid $200,000 to consultants to improve the national and international image of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who announced Tuesday that he was stepping down, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The contracts with a primary consultant and a subcontractor were for the companies to “‘increase exposure and awareness’ of Dirks’s vision for higher education, elevate the chancellor ‘as a key thought leader,’ and ‘form key partnerships’ so that potential donors would understand his philosophy,” the article said.

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