Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 1, 2015

Seven cases of meningitis at the University of Oregon have been diagnosed since January, The Oregonian reported. The outbreak is being cited as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider a proposal to recommend that all young people receive a vaccine for meningitis.

June 1, 2015

The Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism, on Friday announced that it tracked 520 events that it characterized as "anti-Israel" on campuses during the 2014-15 academic year. That represents a 38 percent increase over the previous year. The group also said that 29 campuses saw formal campaigns for a boycott of Israel, nearly double the number of the previous year. The ADL also noted numerous instances of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses.

June 1, 2015

The University of Kentucky has renegotiated a gift from BB&T, which under its former CEO pushed gifts linked to the study of Ayn Rand, The Herald-Leader reported. The university's business school will receive $2.5 million over 10 years, but it will not be required to have a reading room named for Rand.

June 1, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Susan Brantley, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, discusses her research on the water in areas where fracking occurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 29, 2015

A lawyer for a student at George Washington University who was suspended for putting a swastika on his fraternity's bulletin board says that the suspension has been rescinded and the student is now free to return to the university. The case led to widespread debate because the student, who is Jewish and whose fraternity is historically Jewish, purchased the swastika in India. The student says that he was intrigued by the way a holy symbol was distorted by the Nazis, and that he was in no way endorsing Nazi ideas. Many have criticized the university for being too quick to suspend the student, and for suggesting that all swastikas should be viewed as hateful. The university declined to comment on the case.

May 29, 2015

Adjuncts at Ithaca College voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, 172 to 53, they announced Thursday. Sarah Grundberg, an adjunct instructor of sociology, said in a news release that the union will “not only make the college stronger as a whole but will also continue to set an example nationally that part-time faculty deserve better working conditions and that coming together can and does facilitate positive change.” Adjuncts elsewhere in New York State, at the College of Saint Rose and Schenectady Community College, have recently formed SEIU-affiliated collective bargaining units as part of the union’s national Adjunct Action campaign. Thomas Rochon, Ithaca’s president, said in a statement that the college plans to bargain in good faith with the new unit, to “reach a consensus that balances the requests of the faculty with the ongoing needs of the college and its students.”

May 29, 2015

The board of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted to change the name of Saunders Hall, which since 1920 has honored William L. Saunders, a Reconstruction-era leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Board members said that they believed it was a mistake for the board in 1920 to say that Saunders's Klan ties were worthy of honoring. The building will be renamed Carolina Hall.

The board also announced plans to more formally create ways to study the university's history, and declared a 16-year moratorium on renaming other buildings. Students and faculty members have been pushing for a name change, saying that it was inappropriate to have an academic building named for Saunders.

May 29, 2015

Many researchers are wondering why Harvard University is closing a primate research laboratory that has been instrumental in key scientific breakthroughs for decades, The Boston Globe reported. The university says it is making a "strategic" shift, and that the motivation is not a controversy over several monkey deaths that have prompted criticism from regulators and animal rights groups.

May 29, 2015

After nearly 800 years of male leadership, the University of Oxford has its first woman leader.

Oxford announced on Thursday that Louise Richardson, the principal and vice chancellor of Scotland's St. Andrews University and a scholar of terrorism and security studies, would take the helm of the prestigious British university, serving as vice chancellor (the equivalent to an American university president).

Around 45 percent of Oxford’s undergraduates are female, according to a Guardian article.

Though Richardson is the first woman to lead Oxford, other prestigious universities in the United Kingdom have already hired female leaders.

May 29, 2015

Nearly 78,000 members of the military who federal prosecutors said were overcharged on their student loans will begin to receive a total of $60 million in compensation next month, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Navient, the loan servicing company that was previously part of Sallie Mae, will fund the payments as part of a settlement reached last year to resolve charges that it charged excess interest on service members’ student loans.

The payments will range from $10 to $100,000, with the average check about $771, the Justice Department said.

Navient denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The government’s allegations of overcharging applied to the company’s private loan portfolio as well as the federal loans for which it manages payments on behalf of the Education Department.

Earlier this week, a separate Education Department review of Navient and other government-contracted loan servicers said that the companies largely followed the law when it came to giving service members the special loan benefits to which they are entitled.

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