Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:00am

The faculty of Northwest Nazarene University has voted no confidence in President David Alexander. The vote comes amid widespread faculty (and student and alumni) anger over the decision to end the employment of Thomas Jay Oord, a theologian who has a tenured position at the university. While the university said that his job was eliminated because of declining theology enrollments, many doubt that and believe Oord was being punished for views that differ with the president and some members of the Nazarene church. Prior to the vote, Alexander issued a letter in which he said that as the university was retrenching, "no individual in this process was targeted for academic or theological reasons." Alexander did apologize for the way Oord was told (via email) that his job was eliminated, and Alexander said that this was "not respectful."

After the vote of no confidence, Alexander issued another letter in which he said he would reconsider the university's recent moves, although he made no pledges to change any of them. "I am going to study and reconsider action and take at least 14 days to talk with the board, the faculty officers and my cabinet. We need to reflect on and determine the best course for the university in light of the concerns being raised," Alexander said.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:00am

ACT on Wednesday released a paper that seeks to define workplace readiness. The nonprofit testing firm also called for a new model of college and career readiness that argues that the skills needed in those two areas, while overlapping, are distinct. And measurements of readiness must include both academic and nonacademic skills, the paper said.

According to the report, four categories of skills contribute to success after high school. They are core academic skills, cross-cutting capabilities such as critical thinking, behavioral skills and navigation skills.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 4:19am

A report being issued today by Moody’s finds that the wealthiest American colleges and universities are getting wealthier at a faster rate than other institutions, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is largely a continuation of a longtime trend. The wealthiest institutions are elite universities that attract large donations and use sophisticated investment strategies that rarely are available to institutions with small endowments. The new Moody's report says the wealthiest 10 universities in fiscal 2014 held almost one-third of cash and investments at four-year colleges and universities, while the top 40 had two-thirds.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 4:30am

Four student suicides this year have shaken the College of William and Mary and led to a debate on campus about stress and student mental health, The Washington Post reported. Several campuses this year have struggled with the issue of multiple suicides.


Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:00am

A former University of Oregon basketball player suspended over sexual assault allegations will soon play the sport for the University of Houston, the Houston Chronicle reported. The player, Damyean Dotson, was one of three members of the Oregon basketball team who were accused of sexually assaulting a female student. They were suspended for up to 10 years by the university. All three players have now found new college teams to play for.

The female student is suing the Oregon and its men's basketball coach, alleging that they recruited one of the players, Brandon Austin, knowing that he had previously been accused of sexual assault and suspended from Providence College. The suit also alleges that the university scrubbed the players' transcripts of any references to sexual misconduct, making it easier for them to transfer to play elsewhere.

Austin was able transfer again, this time to Northwest Florida State College, where he is now a member of the basketball team. Steve DeMeo, Northwest Florida State's head basketball coach, has acknowledged Austin's previous suspensions, saying at the time of the transfer that "the college has decided to give this young man an opportunity to continue his education." The third player, Dominic Artis, is now a basketball player at Diablo Valley College.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:00am

A Virginia judge on Wednesday rejected a request from alumnae of Sweet Briar College to issue an injunction to block the college's board from moving ahead with plans to close the institution. The judge did grant the alumnae a temporary injunction barring the college from using charitable donations it has received to work toward closure. Both the college and the alumnae declared victory (on different parts of the ruling) and more litigation is expected.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 4:24am

Federal prosecutors have started an investigation of the College of DuPage, The Chicago Tribune reported. Subpoenas were issued this week seeking documents about spending, as the college has faced questions from internal and external critics about numerous spending decisions. College officials said they are cooperating and do not believe they have done anything improper.



Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Gabe Bowen, a geochemist at the University of Utah, offers a profile of the climate as it’s been and as it might become. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 3:00am

Hillary Clinton, on her first trip to Iowa after declaring her presidential candidacy, criticized for-profit colleges and talked about college costs in a discussion at Kirkwood Community College.

She said it was important to look at "some of the for-profit schools, some of the scandals that have arisen in these places where they have taken all this money… and put all these people into debt" without providing students with the skills they need. Then many students "drop out and they don't have the degree or credential" but do have debt, Clinton said. "We have to take on those interests that want to keep the system the way it is."

Clinton endorsed President Obama's proposal to provide free community college tuition. But she stressed that she realized tuition alone was not the only expense faced by many community college students. Books and online materials cost money, she said. She said she has been told that because Pell Grants cover tuition at most community colleges for low-income students, many say that the "bigger problem" is other expenses beyond tuition. "A lot of students are working or are single parents and they have all these other expenses," she said.

C-SPAN video of the appearance may be found here, with the section on college costs and for-profit higher education starting around the 58-minute mark.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 4:22am

A coalition of minority student groups at Stanford University has been accused of asking a Jewish candidate for the Student Senate how her religious identity would impact her vote on proposals to urge the university to sell its holdings in companies that do business in Israel. The allegation was first reported in The Stanford Review and has prompted demands for an investigation by the Anti-Defamation League. The Students of Color Coalition published an essay in The Stanford Daily denying that it asked Molly Horwitz, the candidate, any question about how her Jewish identity would affect her stance on divestment, which she opposes. But the coalition said that it did ask candidates about divestment, but not with regard to the candidates' religious background. The Stanford Daily also published an essay by Horwitz recounting her interview with the coalition.

In February, a student government committee asked a Jewish student at the University of California at Los Angeles about her religious identity and how it would affect her ability to serve on a student judicial board. That question was videotaped, so there is not a dispute that it was asked.

On Tuesday, Stanford University's board announced that it would not sell its holdings in companies with ties to Israel.


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