Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Statements and rumors of all kinds are flying over the decision of the University of Virginia board to oust Teresa Sullivan as president. The decision, announced Sunday, stunned faculty leaders and many others who thought Sullivan was off to a strong start in her nearly two years in office:

  • The Council of Chairs and Directors released a letter blasting the way events have transpired. The letter said that these academic leaders were "very pleased" with Sullivan's "superb" leadership, and that they were stunned by her ouster, and frustrated by the lack of faculty knowledge of the reasons behind the board's action. The letter called for "a full airing" of the issues.
  • A petition is gathering support calling for the board to reverse itself and to keep Sullivan.
  • Helen Dragas, the rector (board chair) released a letter to the faculty in which she said that "the Board of Visitors understands the serious concern and anxiety raised by the announcement of President Sullivan’s agreement to step down. We comprehend how deeply the entire University family feels a sense of loss and distress at what appeared to be an abrupt turn of events." However, citing confidentiality requirements, Dragas said she could not detail the issues that divided Sullivan and the board. She did, however, say that "there was ongoing dialogue with the President over an extended period of time, regarding matters for which we are responsible. These include ensuring the long-term health and well-being of the University through development of a credible statement of strategic direction and a long-term resource plan."

 

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 4:23am

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Cincinnati's limits on protests or political activity outside a "free speech zone" are too restrictive, Cincinnati.com reported. "It is simply unfathomable that a UC student needs to give the university advance notice of an intent to gather signatures for a ballot initiative,” the judge wrote. “There is no danger to public order arising out of students walking around campus with clipboards seeking signatures.” The ruling barred the university from using its existing policy, but permitted the university to propose new rules.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University explains why the level of left handedness is a constant across most societies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 4:26am

North Dakota residents voted 2-to-1 on Tuesday to let the University of North Dakota stop using the "Fighting Sioux" name, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The vote appears to pave the way for the end to years of debate over a nickname/mascot that some Native American groups find offensive, and that the National Collegiate Athletic Association wants the university to retire. State legislation had barred the university from doing so, but the vote clears the way to end that law.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The City University of New York is making big strides on community college student achievement with its Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) effort, according to a report released today by MDRC, an education and social policy research firm. The program, begun in 2005, is an attempt to improve graduation rates. It is aimed at students with remedial needs, and requires participants to enroll full-time in exchange for enhanced support. The study found that it boosts student retention, credits earned and success in remediation -- with a 15 percent increase in students who successfully finish their remedial coursework.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

Career Education Corporation is responding to a new inquiry from a national accreditor related to job placement rates, according to a corporate filing by the company. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges has asked the company, which owns 90 for-profit college campuses, to "show cause" for why accreditation should not be withdrawn from 10 of its institutions. The inquiry stems from the company's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. That revelation led to a similar inquiry by another national accreditor -- the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- which later cleared the company.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

Slate published an analysis of the relative popularity (as topics to academics) of various pop culture topics. Judging popularity by the total papers, books and essays produced by academics, the most popular topic (by far) is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," followed by "Alien Quadrilogy," and "The Wire." Far behind is "The Simpsons."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities on Monday released a set of "core principles and standards" for their members on the education of veterans. The for-profit group's five "tenets" include a call for counseling by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for all veterans who are prospective college students, as well as a list of disclosures colleges should make, including graduation and job placement rates for military and veteran students. However, the association pushed back against the use of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's "Know Before You Owe" form, the use of which the Obama Administration recently required as part of an executive order on veterans' education.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

It's the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in educational settings on the basis of sex, and while the landmark legislation has done much to level the playing field in academics and athletics, there remains work to be done. That's what the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, an alliance of more than three dozen national organizations including the American Association of University Women and the American Civil Liberties Union, says in a lengthy new report analyzing the state of Title IX at 40. There's still room for improvement in how universities and the government apply and enforce Title IX in athletics, sexual harassment, the STEM fields and other areas, the report says. But it also identifies a handful of recommendations that span all the areas covered by Title IX. In short, they are: improved public awareness of Title IX with active education efforts on the part of all stakeholders, including advocacy groups and the federal government; continued and enhanced enforcement by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, including compliance reviews in areas not currently monitored, such as the treatment of pregnant and parenting students; a requirement by Congress for schools and colleges to provide "enhanced" education data collection and reporting, including more detailed cross-tabulation by campus sub-groups; better identification, training, communication and transparency regarding Title IX coordinators; and restored federal funding to state education agencies for gender equity work, including funding state Title IX coordinators and programs and for technical assistance with compliance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate Executive Council on Monday issued a statement questioning the decision of the university's board to seek the resignation of Teresa A. Sullivan as president -- the announcement of which stunned the campus on Sunday. The faculty statement said that "we are shocked and dismayed" by the news. "The Faculty Senate Executive Council has worked closely and effectively with President Sullivan during her two-year term.  She has impressed us with her intelligence, leadership, and commitment to transparent administration and open, honest communication.  We witnessed her renowned dedication to higher education," the faculty statement said. It added: "We find the board's statement inadequate and unsatisfactory.... As elected representatives of the faculty, we are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in university leadership. We intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and will meet with the board as soon as possible."

A request to the university for a response from the board chair was not answered.

 

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