Higher Education Quick Takes
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has turned to one of the country's largest public university systems in its drive to increase the number of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The trust on Monday announced a $4.6 million grant to the California State University, which will fund the system's STEM Collaboratives, which work with new students from the summer before fall classes start through their first year of college.
From April through February 2017, the grant will help eight of the university’s campuses ramp up their collaboratives, in which students will participate in civic engagement, service learning and undergraduate research.
“Actively engaging first-generation STEM majors is the first step in creating professionals who solve the complex problems of today and transform the communities of tomorrow,” said Ephraim P. Smith, CSU's executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.
A professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University's campus in Qatar said her new novel has been banned in the country, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar said she was told that her book about modern love in Qatar, Love Comes Later, was banned because it was “about ‘Qatar and Qataris,’” with no further elaboration. Rajakumar she had indicated that she would be willing to consider a separate edition for Qatar when she submitted the book to the Ministry of Culture for approval, but received no reply.
A newly released study found that four states would need to spend $8.4 billion over five years to educate the 1.4 million students who attend for-profits in those states. The report, which was prepared by the Nexus Research and Policy Center, calculated that number by looking at state and local expenditures necessary to serve those 1.4 million students in public institutions. Nexus is funded by the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, and the John G. Sperling Foundation. Sperling is Phoenix's founder.
Legislative leaders in California have shelved a proposal that would have set up a state vote to repeal a ban on the consideration of race and ethnicity in public college and university admissions, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Many black and Latino leaders have encouraged lawmakers to authorize a vote on repealing the ban. But legislative support lagged as many Asian Americans came out in favor of keeping the ban.
An American Bar Association panel has voted to maintain tenure as a requirement for law school accreditation, The National Law Journal reported. The panel has spent more than five years reviewing standards for law school accreditation, and earlier versions of its planned reforms removed the tenure requirement. Critics of the requirement said that law schools needed more flexibility. Other critics said that they personally favored tenure but did not believe that a tenure system should be an accreditation requirement. But many faculty members opposed the change, and said that it would limit academic freedom. A final vote on the plan is expected by the ABA in August. The American Association of University Professors, which has opposed the rules change, issued a statement Monday praising the ABA panel for keeping tenure as a requirement.
An antitrust lawyer filed a lawsuit Monday accusing the National Collegiate Athletic Association and five major sports conferences of conspiring to fix the compensation (in the form of scholarship limits) of athletes, USA Today reported. The class action filed by Jeffrey Kessler on behalf of big-time college athletes aims to "strike down the rules that prevent (players) from getting a share" of the revenue generated by college football and basketball at the highest levels, Kessler told the newspaper.
The NCAA and the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Athletic Conferences are the lawsuit's targets.
Some Connecticut legislators are considering changes in the state's controversial new law on remedial education, The New Haven Register reported. The law makes it very difficult for colleges to offer remedial education; instead they are supposed to provide extra academic support to students in need of remediation while they take standard college courses. But many students and college officials have raised doubts about the new system, prompting some lawmakers to consider changes.
Officials at the University of Southern Maine and Southern Oregon University have announced retrenchment plans, in response to state budget cuts, that eliminate faculty jobs and academic programs -- and that are controversial.
At the University of Southern Maine, President Theodora Kalikow on Friday announced a plan to eliminate majors in American and New England studies, geosciences and recreational and leisure studies plus an arts and humanities major at the university's Lewiston-Auburn College. The plan would eliminate the jobs of 20-30 faculty members and 10-20 staff members. The Morning Sentinel reported that many faculty members are opposing the cuts and questioning the process by which the plan was developed.
Southern Oregon University will eliminate its physics department as part of a plan to cut 25 faculty positions, Ashland Daily Tidings reported. Officials said that they hoped to find a way to reinstate physics, linked more closely to regional hiring needs.
The University of Louisville last year agreed to pay six months of salary to 175 administrators and staff members who agreed to take earlier retirement. But The Courier-Journal reported that three administrators got a full year's pay. The newspaper noted that all were close to President James Ramsey and all agreed to pledge not to “disparage, demean or impugn the university or its senior leadership.” Some administrators who didn't get the extra pay are raising questions about why the agreements were needed, and why they resulted in much more pay for those three officials. Ramsey declined to comment on the agreements.