Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 12, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security is re-establishing the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, an advisory committee whose primary purpose “will be to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary and DHS senior leadership on matters related to homeland security and the academic community,” according to a notice published today in the Federal Register. The committee will include representatives from academe and from various federal agencies.

January 12, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute: Diya Abdo, professor of English at Guilford College, explores one key way to help refugees in this country. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 11, 2022

University of Utah students gathered outside the main administration building Friday to demand that university leaders take stronger action against racist incidents on campus, KSL.com reported.

The university’s racism response team announced last month that it was investigating two incidents from earlier in the fall. In one case, feces were found on the door to a student’s room; in the second, which occurred in the same dorm, a resident assistant overheard two students talking about people dressed in “white KKK-like attire” who were trying to recruit students in the dorm, according to KSL.com.

Additionally, in September two students allegedly shouted a racial slur at a contract employee making a delivery at a loading dock on campus, then threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods at the worker, KSL.com reported.

Those incidents, among others, prompted the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a student organization on campus, to organize Friday’s protest, which about 40 students attended.

“We are here today to yet again address the complacency and failures of the University of Utah leadership in the face of racist, patriarchal violence,” said student speaker Ermiya Fanaeian. “We have witnessed how empty and useless the responses they currently have in place to such violence are.”

Other speakers urged administrators to meet with student leaders of color, hire and promote more employees of color, and defund the campus police department.

Responding to Friday’s protest, University of Utah officials said in a statement, “We value our students and community members sharing their perspectives and insights … Be certain that we will continue to work as a campus community to make the necessary changes to guarantee our communities of color, and our Black community members in particular, feel safe across campus and especially in their living spaces. We aspire to live by the standards of our Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, that we all have the right to live free of discrimination, harassment, and prejudicial treatment.”

January 11, 2022

Students returning to class at Case Western Reserve University Monday found a dozen vending machines on campus stocked with COVID-19 PCR tests, News 5 Cleveland, an ABC affiliate, reported.

To combat the Omicron surge, the Cleveland university is offering the tests free for all students, faculty and staff. The tester just needs to collect a test kit from a vending machine, complete it and drop it off in a designated spot next to the machine, where the campus lab will pick it up and return results, usually within 24 hours. The vending machines will be stocked with tests for the foreseeable future, News 5 reported, and will eventually carry rapid antigen tests as well. The measure is especially helpful for nursing and medical students who work clinical rotations with odd shifts and aren't able to get tested during regular work hours, Megan Koeth, executive director of the Department of Resiliency for Case Western, told News 5.

“It’s kind of helping us live with COVID,” Koeth said. “I keep saying—it’s here to stay for at least the time being. So what can we do to change our operations to make it so that we can still be here on campus and be safe, but you know we can have all those precautions in place.”

January 11, 2022

After a political science professor from Boise State University made a speech suggesting that women don’t belong in engineering, medicine or law, a student from Boise State raised over $70,000 to create a scholarship for women studying those fields, Good Morning America reported.

The Women in STEM, Medicine and Law Scholarship at Boise State will provide scholarship money annually to one female student starting this fall. Ally Orr, the Boise State senior who started the scholarship, told Good Morning America she launched it after listening to a speech that Scott Yenor, a professor of political philosophy, gave in November at the annual National Conservatism Conference. “Young men must be respectable and responsible to inspire young women to be secure with feminine goals of homemaking and having children,” Yenor said in his remarks. “Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.”

Orr started raising money for the scholarship in early December and sent over 600 emails to professors, faculty and staff with the fundraiser link. Within a few hours, people donated thousands of dollars and the fundraiser went viral outside the Boise State community.

Mike Sharp, a university spokesperson, told Good Morning America the university is “thrilled with the outpouring of support from our community.” The scholarship is endowed and will be awarded in perpetuity each academic year based on how much it continues to grow; this year’s scholarship award will be around $2,000.

“I never want a girl to look online and say, ‘Oh look, a professor who teaches in higher education says I should stay out of STEM, medicine and law,’” Orr told Good Morning America. “They should see the scholarship and see that 500-plus donors said, ‘No, I will fund you if you want to go into these areas of study.’”

January 11, 2022

Georgetown College in Kentucky appointed Rosemary Allen, a former provost and dean at the college, to serve as its 26th president, Baptist News Global reported Monday. She will be the Baptist college’s first female president.

Allen had served as interim president since October, when former president William Jones was dismissed after being accused of sexual assault by a former employee, according to the News Global.

“Rosemary Allen was the clear choice as Georgetown’s next president,” said Robert L. Mills, chairman of the Georgetown Board of Trustees. “Through her longstanding commitment to Georgetown—first as a faculty member and later as provost—she has demonstrated with distinction the outstanding qualities we desire in a president to lead this school.”

January 11, 2022

The University of Wyoming has announced a new approach to COVID-19 testing in the spring semester.

The university will no longer require all students and employees to be tested. It will test those who seek it out, and it will test a random sample of 3 percent of students and employees on Jan. 18.

“There’s already good reason to believe that the virus, particularly the Omicron variant, is widespread in our community. Positivity rates are now growing rapidly, and the risk of creating an environment for further transmission at a mass testing event likely would offset information we would gain from it,” said President Ed Seidel. “We’re making this late change in plans in response to the rapidly changing landscape caused by Omicron, which is highly transmissible but appears to cause less severe illness than previous versions of COVID-19.”

January 11, 2022

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sided with Harvard University in a lawsuit brought by chemistry professor Charles Lieber seeking to force the university to pay his legal fees.

Lieber was convicted last month of lying to federal authorities about his ties to a Chinese scientific talent program and of failing to report the income on his taxes.

In a ruling issued Monday, Massachusetts’ highest court found that Harvard acted consistently with its indemnification policy in determining that it was “reasonably likely” that Lieber ultimately would not be eligible for indemnification and therefore was not entitled to advance payment of his legal fees.

The opinion says Harvard’s executive president, Katherine N. Lapp, “determined that indemnification was likely to be precluded under any of a number of exceptions set forth in the policy, including where a qualified person is adjudicated or determined not to have acted in good faith or in the reasonable belief that his or her actions were in the best interests of Harvard; is adjudicated or determined to have engaged in criminal misconduct, intentional wrongdoing, recklessness, or gross negligence; or is found to have committed an act or omission that he or she knew or should have known was a violation of Harvard policies.”

January 11, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute: Frederick Engram, assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington, discusses why instructors aren’t always allowed to teach what they believe. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 10, 2022

With a lack of clear guidance from the NCAA, student athletes’ opportunities to earn money from name, image and likeness rights are wide-open for experimentation. Now a top transfer prospect has a $1 million offer to take his football talent to Eastern Michigan University, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Caleb Williams, a highly touted quarterback who played his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma, announced last week that he was considering transferring to another program. In short order, Charlie Batch, a former Eastern Michigan University and NFL quarterback, targeted the transfer prospect with a million-dollar proposition from an investment firm he works with.

According to the Free Press, Batch tweeted at Williams, “GameAbove Capital is prepared to pay you ONE MILLION DOLLARS for one year! Are you ready [to] be an EAGLE?”

In his announcement that he was entering the transfer portal, Williams said he might stay at Oklahoma, though he indicated the recent departure of former head coach Lincoln Riley for the University of Southern California played a role in his decision to consider other options.

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