Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Mississippi legislators have drafted and are lining up support for bills that would strip the state's higher education board of the right to hire and fire university presidents, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The bill would create individual boards for each university and give them that power. It is uncertain if the bills will pass, in part because they require supermajority support because they were filed after the normal deadline for legislation. But many lawmakers are endorsing the idea, based in part on their frustrations that the state board has decided not to renew the contract of Dan Jones as chancellor of the University of Mississippi.

Also on Tuesday, the Faculty Senate at Mississippi unanimously passed a resolution that the body "expresses its utmost confidence in Chancellor Jones and calls upon the board to immediately reverse its decision and renew his contract."

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Grand Canyon University's chances of going private have dropped considerably, the Phoenix Business Journal reported based on an interview with the for-profit college's president. Brian Mueller told the Journal that there was less than a 50 percent chance of the publicly traded company going private or nonprofit. Shareholders refused to accept buyouts to convert the publicly traded company. The company offered to buy out shares for 15 percent more than they're worth. we need to say what that means ... that the company offered to buy out people's shares for 15 percent more than they are now worth? dl. Changed it. -AS

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Advocates for public higher education sometimes describe various state plans as efforts to de facto privatize colleges and universities. In Illinois, a Republican legislator has proposed a plan that would literally privatize the state's universities, The News-Gazette reported. The state would give up control over them and instead shift state appropriations to a forgivable loan program for students to pay tuition. Students who graduate in four years would have half their loan forgiven. Then for each year a graduate lives in the state, another eighth of the loan would be forgiven. Those who drop out would have to pay back their loans over a 10-year period. State Senator Bill Brady, sponsor of the bill, admitted that it needed work, but said that it "elevates the discussion" about the future of higher education.

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 4:21am

Kalamazoo College is dropping its requirement that applicants submit S.A.T. or A.C.T. scores. The college announced that a faculty committee studied the impact and effectiveness of various admissions requirements. The study at the college found that high school grades were the most accurate predictor of academic performance at Kalamazoo, and that S.A.T. and A.C.T. scores reflected not academic performance, but family economic status.

 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Martin Krieger, a professor of planning at the University of Southern California, profiles uncertainty. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 3:00am

Charlottesville, Va., police announced Monday that they have been unable to find any evidence of the 2012 fraternity gang rape alleged last year in an article in Rolling Stone. The University of Virginia, where the fraternity is located, requested the investigation after the article was published but before it was widely discredited. A statement from the police noted that the alleged victim (called Jackie in the article) did not cooperate. "Based on the information known to investigators at this time, we find no substantive basis of fact to conclude that an incident occurred that is consistent with the facts as described in the Nov. 19, 2014, Rolling Stone article," concluded the report. "The department’s investigation cannot rule out that something may have happened to 'Jackie' somewhere and at some time on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012. Yet without additional evidence we are simply unable to reach a definitive conclusion."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 3:00am

The president of the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation said a $20 million grant to the University of Mississippi would be rescinded if Dan Jones does not receive a new contract as chancellor of the university, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The money was to have been used for a science building. The board's move, announced Friday, not to renew Jones's contract has sparked a growing number of protests in the state.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 4:25am

Leading scientists are releasing an open letter today urging science museums to cut ties to the Koch brothers, who individually and through their philanthropic arms have been major donors to some museums. The letter says that Charles and David Koch's work to deny climate change makes their giving to science museums suspect. "We are concerned that the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution," the letter says. Museum officials contacted by The New York Times said that donors do not influence museum content, and that the institutions were not planning to limit ties to Koch philanthropy.

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 4:27am

Laurus Technical Institute, a three-branch for-profit college in Georgia, closed on Monday without advance word, WXIA reported. Students arrived for classes to find signs on the door telling them the college was closed. Staff members reported that the owner, who could not be reached, sent them email messages saying he lacked the financing to continue operations.

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 3:00am

The president of Liberty University on Monday defended the Christian institution’s decision to require all students to attend a rally on campus that kicked off Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Some students took to social media to criticize the mandatory attendance policy as giving the mistaken impression that all students had chosen to come support Cruz’s announcement.

President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement that the Cruz event was part of the university's convocation, an education forum held three times each week at which attendance is mandated, “just like class is required for students."

"A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them," Falwell wrote. "Liberty intentionally gives every student this opportunity to become well-rounded on important matters of faith and culture."

He added that students were not obligated to participate in any standing ovations and were "free to cheer or boo as they see fit."

Students faced a $10 fine for not attending convocation, according to university policy. 

Some students showed up to the event wearing “Stand with Rand” shirts in support of Senator Rand Paul, a likely opponent of Cruz in the Republican primary. 

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