Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 23, 2014

James Kilgore, who has earned good reviews as a lecturer in global studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was told his contract would not be renewed this year, shortly after it became widely known that he had once been a fugitive and had later served jail time for his role in the Symbionese Liberation Army, The News-Gazette reported. That same newspaper reported on his past associations in February, prompting local discussion. The SLA is the group that kidnapped Patty Hearst and robbed banks in the 1970s. Kilgore and the university declined to comment on the situation. The American Association of University Professors sent a letter to the Phyllis Wise, chancellor at Illinois, raising concerns about why Kilgore would not be renewed. The AAUP is "troubled" by the "sequence of events" in which someone was receiving good reviews, with the expectation of continued employment, only to have that change after publicity over his past. The AAUP letter states that Kilgore disclosed his felony conviction and six-plus years in prison when he was hired.

April 23, 2014

Charles Murray, the controversial conservative writer best known for The Bell Curve, is accusing Azusa Pacific University of lacking the courage to bring him to campus. He was scheduled to appear today, and was called and told not to come. In an open letter to Azusa Pacific's students, Murray suggested that fear of controversy was behind the decision. He questioned the stated reason -- that it is late in the semester -- given that Murray said the visit has been planned for some time. He urged students to make up their own minds about him. "You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right?," Murray wrote. "OK, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard."

The university released a statement from Jon Wallace, the president: "Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation. We want to host robust discussions. We have a long history of being in the middle of conversations that matter, but those take time and careful planning. As we value open discourse and varying viewpoints, we do so not merely for freedom’s sake, but for Jesus’ sake. Our approach to all topics must be in light of a biblical worldview. In doing so, we strive to model civic virtue for our campus community and encourage spiritual unity in Christ. We look forward to an opportunity to gather around the table for thoughtful and meaningful dialogue with Dr. Murray in the 2014–15 academic year."

April 23, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Susan Thomson, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Colgate University, examines life in the African nation since the genocide in Rwanda. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 23, 2014

Public historically black colleges are playing a key role in educating black and non-black students, but are "under siege" by many state policies, according to a new report from the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. The report finds that many states are adopting funding mechanisms that disadvantage black colleges. The report focuses on Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

 

April 23, 2014

Some students at Suffolk University are criticizing the selection of Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, as commencement speaker, The Boston Globe reported. The students object to Foxman's refusal to back a push in Congress to recognize the mass killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide. Others say he has defended the ethnic profiling of Muslims. Foxman could not be reached for comment. The university released a statement that said that “Mr. Foxman’s body of work is well deserving of recognition.... It is our hope that Mr. Foxman’s personal story as a Holocaust survivor and attorney who has dedicated his life to public service will inspire our graduates as they embark on their professional careers.”

April 23, 2014

American University officials are investigating a unrecognized campus "brotherhood" that has become the subject of debate because of leaked emails from members that appear to show them joking about raping or sexually assaulting women, The Washington Post reported. Cornelius M. Kerwin, president of the university, sent a message to the campus saying that the emails “not only conflict with our values and standards, but also may represent breaches of our student conduct code and of the law.” The website Jezebel published many of the emails.

April 23, 2014

Community college students who earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution are more likely to earn a bachelor's degree than their peers who transfer without one, according to new research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. After controlling for background characteristics, the study found that transfer students with associate degrees were 49 percent more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years, and 22 percent more likely to earn one within six years.

April 23, 2014

A month after The Boston Globe reported on bullying allegations against Kelly Greenberg, the head women's basketball coach, she is resigning. The university conducted a review of the allegations, failing to confirm some of them, but still finding problems. At least four players quit the team in the last year, the university said. BU released a statement from Todd Klipp, senior vice president and senior counsel, in which he said that “a compelling case was made, based on interviews with the team as a whole, that the manner in which Coach Greenberg interacted with many of her players was incompatible with the expectations and standards for university employees, including our coaches.” Klipp added that “when we shared these conclusions with Coach Greenberg, she determined that it would not be possible for her to continue coaching at Boston University.”

The university statement also included this comment from Greenberg: “I do not agree with some of the findings of the review panel regarding my coaching style, which was intended to produce well-rounded athletes and a winning team. However, given all that has transpired, I do not believe that it will be possible for me to continue as an effective coach at Boston University.”

April 22, 2014

U.S. Department of Justice officials will visit about a dozen colleges this week and next to speak with administrators, police, students and others “about how best practices and lessons learned are plying out in areas such as prevention, public awareness and peer support,” the office announced Monday. The 11 colleges are recipients of the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women’s grant program “to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus.” The grant money is used for prevention programming and training, education, and creating “a coordinate community response to enhance victim assistance and safety while holding offenders accountable.”

The 11-campus tour starts Wednesday at North Carolina Central University and ends May 1 at California State Polytechnic University. Also next week, Obama administration officials are expected to comment publicly on the findings of a task force charged with recommending ways to better handle sexual violence on campuses. The report should provide a glimpse into forthcoming federal legislation.

Also on Monday, the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) released a letter that she and a handful of lawmakers (from both sides of the aisle) sent last week to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The senators suggest requiring that colleges conduct annual, anonymous surveys about sexual violence; that the U.S. Education Department appoint one person to oversee all national policy on sexual misconduct on campuses; and that the department’s Office for Civil Rights be more transparent about ongoing campus investigations by issuing updates and creating a searchable database.

April 22, 2014

In 2012 the proportion of American adults who held a college degree crept up 0.7 percentage points, to 39.4 percent, according to the Lumina Foundation's fifth annual progress report on the national college completion agenda. The small jump was the largest of the last five years, the foundation said today, and the rate of increase is accelerating.

Lumina also released data on racial and ethnic achievement gaps. While the college-going rates for blacks and Hispanics are increasing, the report found that degree attainment levels for both groups lag far behind those of whites and Asians. For example, only 20 percent of Hispanics adults hold a degree compared to 44 percent of whites.

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