Higher Education Quick Takes
The White House announced Thursday that an American drone killed two hostages held in Pakistan by Al Qaeda, one of whom was a former State University of New York faculty member. The drone was fired without knowledge that the hostages were at that location.
The former faculty member was Warren Weinstein, who had been held hostage since 2011. He was in Pakistan working with human rights and assistance groups. Earlier in his career, he taught political science at SUNY Oswego. United University Professions, the SUNY faculty union, had campaigned for his release. This website features background information about his life and efforts that were made to release him.
Valdosta State University announced Thursday that classes and all other normal activities will be suspended today "in the interest of the safety of our students, faculty and staff." The university announcement did not provide much detail, but the university has faced an uproar in the last week over protests in which some walked on an American flag. A pro-flag rally is expected on campus today.
Hillary Clinton, in the first major speech of her presidential campaign, specifically cited the problem of sexual assault on campuses. In an address Thursday at the Women in the World conference, Clinton said that "when women of any age, whether on college campuses or military bases or even in their homes, face sexual assault, then no woman is secure. Every woman deserves to have the safety and security they need. That means we have to guarantee that our institutions respond to the continuing scourge of sexual assault."
Bill Clinton is stepping down as honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities, announced Laureate Education Inc., a for-profit that is among the world's largest higher education providers. Clinton concludes a five-year contract with the company.
Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, will assume a similar position with Laureate. Zedillo will be a presidential counselor with Laureate International Universities, which enrolls nearly one million students, with a heavy focus on Latin America. He will advise the company and its 80 institutions on academic innovation and private and public sector collaboration.
"Laureate students represent the next generation of leadership. I have seen a commitment to quality and leadership throughout the Laureate network, and I have enjoyed being a part of it," Clinton said in a written statement. "President Zedillo will be a remarkable ambassador. I am sure he will have a positive impact on the organization and, most important, on its current and future students.”
Cornel West has responded to the much-discussed critique of him that recently appeared in The New Republic. West didn't specifically cite the article, but in a Facebook post, he made no apologies for his writings or public statements.
"Character assassination is the refuge of those who hide and conceal these issues in order to rationalize their own allegiance to the status quo. I am neither a saint nor prophet, but I am a Jesus-loving free black man in a great tradition who intends to be faithful unto death in telling the truth and bearing witness to justice," West wrote. "I am not beholden to any administration, political party, TV channel or financial sponsor because loving suffering and struggling peoples is my point of reference. Deep integrity must trump cheap popularity. Nothing will stop or distract my work and witness, even as I learn from others and try not to hurt others." The full post may be found here.
An Inside Higher Ed column analyzing the West critique may be found here.
A segment on WITI News highlights a University of Phoenix settlement with a woman who says she was misled by recruiters about the job prospects her degree program would open up. The woman said she was told that a human services degree would give her opportunities similar to those of graduates of social work programs, but she found her program didn't have social work accreditation so she couldn't gain internships or jobs in the field. Phoenix reviewed records of its counselors' interaction with the student and then admitted that they had “inappropriately characterized likely career outcomes.” The news show says other students are making similar complaints.
DeVry Education Group, a major publicly traded for-profit, on Thursday announced consolidations and a rebranding for its DeVry University. The company announced that it would close 14 campus locations, converting academic programs at those locations to online-only offerings.
Like most for-profits, DeVry's flagship brand has struggled with sagging enrollments and revenue. This quarter it reported declines of almost 16 percent in revenue and 15 percent in total undergraduate enrollment. However, the broader holding company has fared better of late -- its overall enrollment is up 18 percent. In Brazil, for example, DeVry enrolls roughly 40,000 degree-seeking students, company officials said.
Daniel Hamburger, the DeVry Education Group's president and CEO, said in an interview that the university chain's campus consolidations are part of a broad repositioning and an attempt to return it to growth. "We'll focus on the most competitive markets," he said. "This is a narrowing of our campus footprint."
DeVry also will focus on more targeting advertising in those areas, pulling back somewhat on national ads. The for-profit chain is seeking to reduce its tuition, to strengthen teaching and learning models, and to develop its ties with employers, Hamburger said.
"We're managing for the long term," he said.
Guilford College has announced plans to eliminate 52 positions to close a $2 million deficit, The News-Record reported. Of the positions, 40 are staff posts and 12 are faculty positions. Most of the jobs are currently vacant.
Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Thursday, providing an update on the White House's It's On Us sexual assault awareness campaign and urging college students -- especially young men -- to intervene when they witness gender and dating violence. More than 300 campuses have participated in the It's On Us initiative, the White House announced ahead of Biden's visit, and 75 nonprofit groups, entertainment companies and Greek letter organizations have now committed to supporting the campaign in some fashion. "No means no, and no exceptions," Biden said. "It's not only grounds for discipline and expulsion. You should go to jail if you engage in that activity."