Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 24, 2014

On the latest "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free weekly news podcast, Douglas Shapiro of the National Student Clearinghouse's Douglas Shapiro discusses data showing that college completions appeared to decline in the wake of the recession. And in our second segment, Rajika Bhandari of the Institute of International Education analyzes the annual "Open Doors" report on student movement into and out of the United States. Sign up here for notification of new podcasts.

 

November 24, 2014

Pensacola State College faculty voted no confidence late last week in their president, Edward Meadows. The union and the administration are at an impasse in contract negotiations. The faculty cited five major reasons, including a culture of reprisal, cronyism, disregard for the terms of their contract, poor funding and attempting to prevent coverage of the labor dispute by the student newspaper. "This vote was necessary to bring faculty concerns to the Board of Trustees. Faculty have been discouraged from communicating with the board since Dr. Meadows has been president," one professor said in a statement released by the faculty union. The union said it was the first time in the college's history that faculty have taken a no confidence vote. According to the union, 133 of 193 full-time faculty took part in the vote. Of those, 125 voted no confidence in Meadows.

The college’s trustees remain behind Meadows. “The Board of Trustees of Pensacola State College has full confidence in President Meadows and the college administration,” Herb Woll, the board chairman, said in a statement released by the university.

In an interview, Meadows said he believes the college’s faculty are upset at his attempts to increase the teaching load for instructors at an affiliated adult high school the college operates. The college serves about 600 students. "Their propaganda machine did very well of painting a picture that is not factual," Meadows said. He also defended his approach to the student newspaper, saying he never forbade the paper from printing anything, although his administration declined to talk with the student newspaper about the labor dispute and had a college labor attorney send a letter to the union that said faculty would be violating the law if they spoke with the paper about their contract negotiations. That law has been ruled unconstitutional but remains on the books.

November 24, 2014

Thirty-two Americans were named Saturday nights as winners of Rhodes Scholarships, which cover two or three years of study at the University of Oxford (at right). Students at Yale University won four of the scholarships, more than students of any other institution this year. A list of the winners may be found here.

 

November 24, 2014

Students from countries outside the European Economic Community won't have to pay tuition at universities in Norway after all, according to a final budget proposal presented on Friday. Norway's center-right government had proposed the idea -- which many university leaders criticized -- but scrapped the idea as part of a set of compromises with parliament to ensure the budget would pass. Tuition will therefore continue to be free for Norwegian nationals and international students at Norway's public institutions, Universitas reported (link is in Norwegian).

November 24, 2014

A man who was rejected from Fukuoka Women’s University, in Japan, has announced plans to sue for damages, The Asahi Shimbun reported. The man contends that Japan's equity laws do not permit colleges to reject students on the basis of gender. The university declined to comment. (Private, single-sex undergraduate colleges in the United States are specifically permitted to maintain their admissions policies under federal law.)

 

November 24, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, James Hanna, professor of mechanics at Virginia Tech, discusses the physics of whirling dervishes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

 

November 21, 2014

The University of California at Los Angeles Academic Senate has voted, 85-to-18, to approve a plan to require all undergraduates in the primary undergraduate college at UCLA to complete at least one course in a diversity topic. The idea of a diversity requirement has been debated for years at UCLA, and has been previously voted down. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has been a proponent of the requirement and issued a statement after the vote in which he said: “This has been one of my longstanding priorities and demonstrates our strong commitment to expose undergraduates to views and backgrounds other than their own."

 

November 21, 2014

After 18 days, student protesters at Syracuse University have ended their sit-in at an administrative building on campus. Part of the decision was based on the growing support for and recognition of the cause from student groups, faculty members and alumni, according to Vani Kannan, a first-year Ph.D. student who’s a member of THE General Body, which organized the protest. Students also decided the sit-in was no longer an effective way to get the further assurances they were seeking from the chancellor. "We decided to change tactics," junior Danielle Reed said. "This is not the end of our demands or our pressure on the administration."

The sit-in started on Nov. 3, when the student group presented administrators with a list of grievances that criticized university decisions related to support for minority students, sexual assault victims and mental health services, among others. The group demanded more transparency and student input on campus decisions. 

Last week, Chancellor Kent Syverud apologized for the way some previous decisions were communicated to students. The same day, the university listed actions the administrators had agreed to take to meet some of the students' concerns. Negotiations with administrators had been on pause this week after regular meetings during the first two weeks of the protests. Talks resumed Thursday afternoon with a meeting with Bea Gonzalez, dean of University College and the liaison between the students and the chancellor, but no further negotiations took place.

Students and supporters on the faculty were asking the chancellor to sign a Good Faith Commitment Contract with six main concerns that students feel hadn’t been addressed yet. They also asked for a non-retaliation agreement so that students, staff and faculty involved in the protests wouldn’t face any punitive actions. The group is still asking the administration to agree to both, Kannan said. 

In a statement on the university website, Syverud and Gonzalez said they're committed to continue working with members of THE General Body. "I want the University community to know I remain fully committed to continuing these conversations and working to make Syracuse University the kind of campus where everyone feels welcome and respected," Syverud said.

November 21, 2014

More than a quarter of college students (26 percent) are raising dependent children, according to a new report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. A majority of the parent population is made up of single parents, most of them women. Single mothers make up 43 percent of the student parent population, while single fathers make up 11 percent.

 

November 21, 2014

The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday approved a controversial plan to hike student tuition up to 27 percent by the end of the decade. The plan is opposed by state Governor Jerry Brown and students. The UC administration, led by system President Janet Napolitano, argues the tuition increases are necessary to cope with inadequate funding by Brown and the legislature. The passage of the plan may now turn students, who opposed the tuition increases and protested the regents’ meetings this week, to fight for more money from the Brown administration during the upcoming legislative session. Brown's allies have accused Napolitano of structuring the plan in such a way that students are hostages.

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