Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 12, 2018

After several years of high turnover and a 17-month search, Suffolk University appointed Marisa Kelly president, according to The Boston Globe.

Kelly became interim president of Suffolk in 2016 when former president Margaret McKenna was controversially ousted after about 12 months in the role.

Although Kelly was widely considered to be an effective interim, she was initially cut from the search process. Kelly was then reintroduced at the last minute and, despite some dissension, was approved first by a narrow margin and then a significant majority of board members, according to the Globe.

Suffolk is going through a difficult period, partially because it is a four-year private college that charges $55,000 for tuition and board, in Boston -- a city saturated with universities. Also, numbers of high school graduates are falling in the Northeast and families are struggling to pay for private postsecondary education, the Globe reported.

Before Kelly was reinstated as a candidate and then the new president, the board was considering two finalists: Patrick F. Leahy, president of Wilkes University; and H. Keith Moo-Young, former chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities.

In an interview with the Globe, Kelly said her plans for the college include advertising across the country, using Boston as a point of attraction. In addition, Kelly said she hopes to receive more financial support from alumni. During her 20-month tenure as interim, Kelly focused on fund-raising, accepting one alumni donation of $10 million -- the largest the college has received. Kelly also plans to improve the law school.

“We were coming out of a time of a lot of turmoil, and it was wonderful to see how much, irrespective of that, the entire community really just focused on our students,” Kelly told the Globe.

March 12, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Raymond Boisvert, professor of philosophy at Siena College, takes a deeper look at the horror classic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 9, 2018

Students at Howard University are criticizing the administration there, and specifically President Wayne A. I. Frederick, over problems with housing -- and his response to a complaint from a student, The Washington Post reported. After a student sent him an email about her concerns over not being able to secure housing for next year, he wrote back criticizing her "tone." She then shared that email and received strong support from fellow students, who said she was expressing how many feel. Frederick sent an email to the campus saying that Howard doesn't have a housing shortage, although it may have some problems with the room-reservation process. Students organized a protest, with many saying he is understating a significant problem.

March 9, 2018

At least five people were arrested at a talk by Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin last week at the University of California, Los Angeles, though none were students, officials said.

Mnuchin was booed and heckled during his speech, hosted by the Burkle Center for International Relations, as shown in videos circulating on the internet. At times, he appeared agitated by his critics and said at one point, “I’m dealing with students, I forgot.”

Some attendees who disrupted Mnuchin were carried out by armed police. Spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said that five people were arrested and were cited and released. The Los Angeles City Attorney will determine whether to bring charges, he said.

At least some of the protesters appear to be associated with Refuse Fascism, a national anti-Trump organization. On Twitter, the organization posted a video featuring someone claiming to be a UCLA student under the name Tala Deloria who was filmed on the UCLA campus after the Mnuchin talk, challenging him to a debate.

UCLA has no record of a student who goes by that name, Vazquez said, and Refuse Fascism did not respond to request for comment.

A person named Nayely Rolon-Gomez has been misrepresenting herself to the media as a student, spokesman Tod M. Tamberg said. UCLA did not specify whether Tala Deloria and Rolon-Gomez are the same person.

Rolon-Gomez was one of the five arrested at Mnuchin’s event and was banned from the campus for seven days -- violating that order would mean being charged with a misdemeanor. Rolon-Gomez attempted to enter a campus talk by former U.S. Army Private and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning on Tuesday and was arrested again, Tamberg said.

“UCLA acknowledges the right of individuals to protest speech, but also emphasizes that the university will not permit a response or protest that is so disruptive as to effectively silence the invited speaker and prevent him/her from communicating with a willing audience (the so-called ‘heckler’s veto’),” Tamberg wrote in an email. “A pre-event announcement to this effect is read at the beginning of events where we have knowledge of protest activity. When protesters disrupt the event, they receive an additional warning to stop or face removal and possible arrest and/or disciplinary procedures.”

Though footage of the Mnuchin event is widespread, the secretary told UCLA he would not consent to the university publishing an official video on the UCLA website as had initially been intended.

The Treasury Department disputed the notion that Mnuchin was not being transparent in blocking the video’s publication.

“The event was open to the media and a transcript was published,” a Treasury spokeswoman told The New York Times. “He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”

March 9, 2018

University of California president Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday that she wants the system to explore ways to guarantee admission to academically eligible students in the state's community colleges.

UC would follow California State University, which already guarantees admission to qualified community college students. 

Napolitano said the path to guaranteed admission could be through the UC system's 21 transfer pathways, which help make students competitive for admission but doesn't guarantee them entry. 

March 9, 2018

A new study on faculty job satisfaction from TIAA says that most full-time faculty members across institution types are satisfied with their work. At the same time, many professors report an increase in their workload and dissatisfaction with increasing levels of bureaucracy. As for work-life balance, professors at bachelor and master’s degree-granting institutions have it better than their peers at doctoral institutions. While women report earning lower salaries than men, they do not report lower overall job satisfaction.

TIAA’s study is based on data concerning approximately 31,000 faculty members obtained from Harvard University’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education and interviews with 42 faculty members across the U.S. The full report, prepared by Karen Webber, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Georgia, is available here.

March 9, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Rebekah Piper, associate professor of literacy at Texas A&M University at San Antonio, looks into diversifying the curriculum to fit a diverse student body. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 8, 2018

Arizona State University this week suspended Lawrence M. Krauss, a well-known physicist and skeptic, pending an investigation into sexual harassment claims against him dating back to 2006 and recently detailed by BuzzFeed. “In an effort to avoid further disruption to the normal course of business as the university continues to gather facts about the allegations, Krauss has been placed on paid leave and is prohibited from being on campus for the duration of the review,” the university said in a statement.

The Center for Inquiry also said this week that it would break ties with Krauss, citing its zero-tolerance policy on harassment. In so doing it joined a number of other organizations to limit contact with Krauss since the allegations -- including groping and inappropriate comments -- came to light last month. “Serious allegations have been raised … and we suspend our association with him pending further information,” the center said on Twitter.

Krauss denies the allegations, none of which relate to his current role at Arizona State. He published a statement refuting each claim in detail and taking issue with BuzzFeed’s overall reporting. Arizona State “has placed me on paid administrative leave, as per normal procedure, while it reviews claims arising from the BuzzFeed article,” he wrote. “The story represents a series of largely anonymous hearsay claims against me that were countered by at least an equal number of presentations of counter-evidence by numerous individuals and two reputable academic institutions.”

March 8, 2018

The leaders of 49 wealthy postsecondary institutions sent a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday urging them to repeal or amend the so-called endowment tax enacted as part of last year's Republican tax overhaul.

College costs or student debt will not be addressed by the tax, wrote the university leaders, who hold top executive positions at institutions potentially affected -- including Amherst, Bryn Mawr and Franklin & Marshall Colleges; the Juilliard School; Princeton Theological Seminary; Brown, Duke, Rice and Stanford Universities; and Washington University in St. Louis.

“Instead, it will constrain the resources available to the very institutions that lead the nation in reducing, if not eliminating, the costs for low- and middle-income students, and will impede the efforts of other institutions striving to grow their endowments for this very purpose,” the letter said. It went on to warn that taxing college and university resources will force institutions to provide less in student aid, spend less on research and dedicate less to public engagement in their surrounding communities.

It’s not clear whether the letter, addressed to both Republican and Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress, will lead to changes in tax law. But it demonstrates that the leaders of institutions with large endowments have not dropped the issue in the months since the tax reform package was signed into law.

“Endowments are not kept in reserve to be drawn on only occasionally or on a rainy day,” the letter said. “In fact, across our institutions, endowments support a significant and growing portion of our operations; for many, endowments provide almost half of annual revenues.”

Although it is commonly referred to as an endowment tax, the law in question places a 1.4 percent excise tax on net investment income at colleges and universities with at least 500 students and more than $500,000 in net assets per student. Institutions have faced uncertainty about which assets will be counted. Estimates vary, but dozens of colleges and universities could have to pay the tax.

March 8, 2018

A second complainant joined a lawsuit alleging that the University of Arizona paid a female former dean significantly less than her male counterparts and then ended her deanship in retaliation for raising the issue, their attorneys announced Wednesday. In January, Patricia MacCorquodale, dean emerita of Arizona’s Honors College and a professor of gender and women’s studies, sued the university for gender discrimination, saying she was underpaid as compared to male deans. 

Now Janice Cervelli, former dean of architecture at Arizona and current president of Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, alleges that the difference between her pay and the average male dean’s was $80,000 annually in her last two years at Arizona. The women’s collective action seeks to represent all female deans at Arizona and asserts that there is a broader pattern of underpaying these women in relation to male deans. MacCorquodale and Cervelli are seeking a jury trial and back pay for lost compensation, along with damages and relief. Arizona’s governing Board of Regents has previously said it does not comment on pending litigation.


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