Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Calvin College, which has been fighting to stabilize its budget, is cutting a number of humanities programs, saying that they are not attracting enough students, MLive reported. Among the programs being ended: theater, art history and the languages of German, Greek and Latin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 10:34am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a lower court's decision that National Collegiate Athletic Association rules that limit what college athletes can be paid violate antitrust laws. But the appeals court tossed out the original judge's recommendation that athletes receive deferred compensation of up to $5,000 per year.

“The NCAA is not above the antitrust laws, and courts cannot and must not shy away from requiring the NCAA to play by the Sherman [Antitrust] Act's rules,” the three-judge panel wrote in its decision. “In this case, the NCAA's rules have been more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism in support of the college sports market. The Rule of Reason requires that the NCAA permit its schools to provide up to the cost of attendance to their student athletes. It does not require more.”

In January, using a new governance structure that granted them greater autonomy to create their own rules, the five wealthiest athletic conferences passed a measure allowing -- but not requiring -- colleges to offer scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 3:00am

H-Net, the online humanities and social sciences network, is launching a free book announcement service to help instructors keep up with new titles in their field. Known as the Book Channel, the free service will launch later this fall. Early next year, H-Net plans to commission articles to help its members understand the publishing industry, keep up with new research and use new content in their courses. H-Net, which is hosted by Michigan State University, also offers book reviews, job listings and academic announcements.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 4:15am

Johns Hopkins University is today announcing a plan to hire more people from low-income Baltimore areas, The Baltimore Sun reported. The university plans to hire an additional 60 people from areas with high rates of unemployment or poverty for positions such as clerical staff and food service. The pledge aims to increase the share of those hired for such positions from these areas from 26 percent to 50 percent. The university also plans to spend more of its construction budget with companies that have female or minority owners.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 3:00am

In a case that’s been closely watched for its academic freedom implications, the University of Hong Kong’s governing council voted 12 to 8 to reject the appointment of Johannes Chan Man-mun to a pro vice chancellor post, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday. Chan, a former law dean, is widely perceived as being punished for his support for democracy and his close ties to Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of the Occupy Central movement.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jason D’Cruz, assistant professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Albany, confronts the complexity of self-deception. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 4:28am

Faculty members are among the fortunate winners of this year's “genius” fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The no-strings fellowships are awarded to “individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.” The winners receive $625,000 over five years, and people cannot apply for the fellowship -- the foundation simply makes its selections.

This year's winners from academe are:

  • Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University College, in Ghana.
  • Kartik Chandran, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University.
  • Matthew Desmond, associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University.
  • William Dichtel, associate professor of chemistry at Cornell University.
  • LaToya Ruby Frazier, assistant professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Ben Lerner, professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
  • Dimitri Nakassis, associate professor of classics at the University of Toronto.
  • John Novembre, associate professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago.
  • Christopher Ré, assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University.
  • Marina Rustow, professor of Near Eastern studies and history at Princeton University.
  • Beth Stevens, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard University Medical School.
  • Heidi Williams, assistant professor of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Peidong Yang, S. K. and Angela Chan Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California at Berkeley.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 3:00am

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a one-year extension of the federal Perkins Loan program, which is set to expire this week.

House lawmakers passed, on a voice vote, legislation that would allow the federal Perkins Loan program to continue through next September. Unless the Senate acts, the Perkins Loan program will expire at midnight on Thursday. If the program were to expire, colleges would be able to continue to make Perkins Loans to some students who need the financing to finish their degrees, but colleges would be unable to make any new loans.

Passage of the House bill on Monday sends the fate of the Perkins Loan program to the Senate. Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who heads the Senate education committee, has called for eliminating the Perkins Loan program as part of an effort to simplify and streamline the federal government’s student loan programs.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the education committee, has said she doesn’t want to see the program expire.

In a statement, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Perkins is an “important campus-based financial tool” and called on Congress to “make it larger, better targeted and more effective at helping students and families.”

The legislation that cleared the House on Monday would also extend for a year two federal higher education committees, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the education secretary on accreditation issues, and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 3:00am

Drury University, in Missouri, is eliminating the jobs of 12 faculty members, none of them with tenure but some on the tenure track, The Springfield News-Leader reported. The university cited an enrollment decline this year, and said that it was eliminating positions in departments with reduced student demand. The faculty members who lost jobs were in theater, philosophy, music, education and languages. The university said that it plans to grow in fields with more student demand, and as a result is adding programs in film and TV production, digital design, animation, and professional writing. The choices of topics for growth, and the fields of those having jobs eliminated, have prompted some on campus to create a Facebook page called "Save Drury as a Liberal Arts School."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 4:23am

As the scandal over Bill Cosby has grown, many colleges have removed his name from buildings or programs that honored him. Now some institutions are revoking honorary degrees he received -- and most colleges rarely if ever revoke such degrees. Fordham University announced such a move last week. Marquette University and Brown University have also now revoked degrees awarded to Cosby. A statement from Marquette President Michael R. Lovell and Provost Daniel Myers described the rationale for the move. “By his own admission, Mr. Cosby engaged in behaviors that go entirely against our university’s mission and the guiding values we have worked so hard to instill on our campus,” the statement said. “Every day, we live these values by challenging our students to integrate knowledge and faith into their real-life decisions in ways that will shape their lives. With those values in mind, let us all remember that the foundations on which our great university was built remain as important today as ever.

The Associated Press quoted Brown University President Christina H. Paxson as saying that Cosby has admitted in depositions to conduct (namely drugging women and having sex with them without their consent) “contrary to the values of Brown.”

All three universities cited Cosby’s own statements about his conduct. A letter from one of Cosby’s lawyers obtained by People magazine objects to the universities’ actions, insisting that Cosby has done nothing wrong. The letter says of the Fordham statement: “The statement grossly mischaracterizes both Mr. Cosby's actions and his deposition testimony, in language more befitting a tabloid journal rather than a respected institution of higher learning.”


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