Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 5, 2018

Several students at the law school of North Carolina Central University, a historically black institution, are calling for a white classmate, Morgan Kendall, to be expelled after Kendall posted racist messages to her Facebook page, WRAL reported.

Kendall used a racial slur in a Facebook comment and wrote “I wish I could take credit” for the pipe bombs sent to the Obamas, the Clintons and several others in October. The concerned students, who said they feared for their safety, met with Elaine O’Neal, dean of the law school, and Fred Hammett, campus police chief. Kendall will not be allowed at school this week, but will be able to return the following Monday.

Kendall did not respond to WRAL's request for comment.

November 5, 2018

A study released Friday documented that 147 colleges and universities have at least one former football player with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to concussions, USA Today reported. "Very few colleges can say they haven’t had a former player diagnosed with CTE," said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which released the study. "There’s still no long-term health care for former college players and no investment in research. Hopefully this will inspire changes for the next generation of football players."

November 5, 2018

Samuel J. Abrams, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College, had his office door vandalized after he wrote an essay in The New York Times saying that student affairs officials at colleges nationwide are disproportionately liberal. Abrams confirmed to Inside Higher Ed an account published in Reason about what happened and the president's response. According to Abrams, Cristle Collins Judd, the president, told him on the phone that he was "attacking" members of the Sarah Lawrence "community." (The piece by Abrams started with an anecdote about Sarah Lawrence, but was about national trends.) Abrams also said that Judd suggested he may be on the job market, which he interpreted as a suggestion that he should be (he's not). Abrams said that the college should be taking a strong, public position defending his right to express his views.

A spokeswoman for the college said via email to Inside Higher Ed that "we are addressing this situation internally."

November 5, 2018

The boards of Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Oregon College of Art and Craft have voted to merge, The Oregonian reported.

The Portland, Ore., colleges opted to combine in an effort to become more competitive and stay financially stable in a higher education landscape where many small colleges are closing. Enrollment at Pacific Northwest College of Art is higher than it has been in the past seven years at 512 students, and enrollment at the Oregon College of Art and Craft has remained steady around 140 students.

Officials are working on a new name for the school, and they expect some job losses.

November 5, 2018

The two people murdered Friday in a shooting at a Tallahassee yoga studio both had ties to Florida State University. They were Nancy Van Vessem, a professor of internal medicine, and Maura Binkley, a 21-year-old student who hoped to get a job after graduation with Teach for America. The shooter, Scott Paul Beierle, shot himself after shooting a total of seven people. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that he had been arrested in 2012 after allegedly grabbing the buttocks of two women on Florida State's campus.

The university president, John Thrasher, issued a statement that said in part, "My heart is filled with sadness following the horrific shooting that took place in Tallahassee on Friday. Although this shooting happened off campus, it has deeply touched the Florida State University family with two deaths and several injuries. To lose a faculty member and a student and have others injured in this senseless and violent way is absolutely devastating."

The university held a vigil Sunday night. Following are some of the photos posted to social medial:







November 5, 2018

Soo Ahn, chair of electrical and computer engineering at Bradley University in Illinois, is resigning, following calls that he be terminated in light of his past conviction for sexually abusing a child. Ahn was sentenced to eight months of probation in 2007 for the aggravated sexual abuse of a 13-year-old family member, according to the Peoria Journal Star. A recent online petition accused Bradley of “turning a blind eye and continuing to let this convicted pedophile teach.” Bradley said in a statement last week that when it heard about Ahn’s conviction more than 10 years ago, “it fully informed itself of all of the relevant facts and circumstances as well as all relevant legal obligations, including Ahn’s contractual rights.” At no time did it act in a way that impacted campus safety, it said.

The university also announced last week that Ahn would resign from his position at the end of the semester, after 32 years. Last month, Ken Young reportedly resigned his post as director of Bradley’s forensics program, after a months-long investigation into an allegation of sexual assault from about a decade ago at a summer program. The university reportedly said that Young resigned in order to spend more time with his family. “Beyond that we have no comment,” a Bradley spokesperson told the Journal Star.

November 5, 2018

Savannah State University will lay off 26 faculty members before the 2019-20 academic year, Savannah Now reported. The university is undertaking budget cuts due to a steady loss of revenue and enrollment decline. Affected faculty will remain teaching through the 2018-19 school year and are eligible to apply for positions that open at Savannah State or elsewhere in the University System of Georgia.

November 5, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Carleton College Week, Nathan Grawe, professor of economics, describes how lower fertility rates could hurt college admissions in the near future. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 2, 2018

The fallout from an athletics scandal that has roiled the University of Maryland at College Park campus continues.

The head of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, James T. Brady, intends to resign. The regents had been sharply criticized for urging College Park president Wallace D. Loh to keep head football coach DJ Durkin despite that a pair of investigations revealed that athletics staffers were responsible for a player’s death in June and showed an abusive culture among the coaching staff. In a statement, Brady said, "In recent days, I have become the public face of both the board and its decisions related to these matters. In my estimation, my continued presence on the board will inhibit its ability to move Maryland’s higher education agenda forward.  And I have no interest in serving as a distraction from that important work."

Loh announced his retirement in June 2019, and while initially Durkin was to remain in his position, he was fired on Wednesday after Loh met with students, professors and administrators.

Meanwhile, the university’s major fund-raising arm, the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees, wrote to Brady and the regents informing them that they had dealt a “fatal blow” to the group’s $1.5 billion campaign, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Academic leaders on the campus have also urged Loh to reverse his decision to retire.

Further, the Sun reported that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is discussing the status of Maryland's accreditation in light of the current situation.


November 2, 2018

The heads of Rutgers University, Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison asked Betsy DeVos in an open letter Thursday “to do everything you can” to stop the Trump administration from undermining the rights of transgender students.

According to news reports, the Department of Health and Human Services is considering defining gender as determined at birth by a person’s genitalia. While the Education Department is crafting a Title IX campus sexual misconduct regulation, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the latest draft won’t include a definition of gender.

But DHHS is calling on other federal agencies responsible for enforcing the federal Title IX law, including the Departments of Justice and Labor, to adopt the definition. Rutgers president Robert Barchi, Wisconsin-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank and Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber said that would withdraw protections from students who face discrimination, isolation and harassment.

“Much work has been done in recent years to understand and reduce the challenges and ordeals experienced by transgender people,” the college leaders wrote. “This is no time for the country to turn its back on these valued members of our communities.”


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