Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 9, 2013

A Facebook post seen by many as a threat led authorities to charge Matthew Rouch, a communication faculty member at Northwest Missouri State University, with an illegal pot-growing operation, The Kansas City Star reported. Rouch was originally arrested over a post in which he said that "by October, I’ll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle — with a good scope, and probably a gatling gun as well." Authorities were not convinced the threat was more than a bad joke, but searched his house, where they found numerous marijuana plants growing. While Rouch was originally jailed for the Facebook post, he's still there over the pot.

 

September 9, 2013

Pasadena City College has started an investigation into Hugo Schwyzer after he admitted to having sex with his students in recent years, The Pasadena Star-News reported. Schwyzer teaches history at the college, and also has taught courses and lectured nationally on women's studies, sexuality, pornography and other topics. He went on leave this summer after admitting that he had been having affairs in ways inconsistent with his public statements, and he announced that he was having a breakdown.

Schwyzer has previously admitted to sex with his students early in his career, but maintained until last week that he stopped doing so in 1998. Then last week, one of Schwyzer's former students anonymously posted an account of having sex with him -- sometimes in his campus office -- while she was enrolled in one of his courses. On his blog, Schwyzer then wrote that the allegations were true. "I am deeply sorry for having maintained a lie for so long, and extend my apologies to the many whom I’ve wronged, including those who fiercely defended me against charges that turned out to be true," he wrote. He added that "I will convey this information to the college, and I expect this will be a factor in discussions about my future as an history instructor."

September 9, 2013

Regent University announced Friday that Carlos Campo, president since 2010, was leaving the position immediately. The announcement did not give a reason for Campo's departure from Regent, a prominent force in Christian higher education that was founded by Pat Robertson. Via e-mail, Campo said that "my departure agreement with Regent precludes us from adding to what has already been stated, and I think we all feel it is just time to move forward."

There has been some online speculation in Virginia newspaper that Campo faced resistance for his strong support for immigration reform. Campo is not alone among leaders of evangelical institutions or of Christian colleges in advocating such a position, but the stance is controversial among many conservatives. In his e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, Campo said: "I can say that my stance on immigration was NOT a factor (Pat Robertson and I align perfectly there -- his conservative constituency has long disagreed with him on this issue)."

September 9, 2013

The Harvard Business School has undertaken one of the most ambitious efforts ever to promote gender equity in business education, with mixed results, according to an in-depth report in The New York Times. The article describes a wide range of efforts, including coaching for female professors and students, and campaigns against social traditions that may have placed women at a disadvantage. Many women say that the efforts have been overdue, and applaud the efforts. But others see a degree of social engineering that they find inappropriate for graduate education.

 

September 9, 2013

The University of British Columbia is the second Canadian university in a week to be investigating the use of a chant seen as encouraging rape and underage sex, CTV News reported. Last week, officials at Saint Mary's University, in Halifax, responded with outrage to a sexist chant on video, with orientation leaders involved. Now, UBC is investigating with a similar chant is used during orientation at its business school. The chant: “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like ‘em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail."

September 9, 2013

Athletes are protesting a shift in Lafayette College's policy about students who need medical help because of alcohol consumption, The Morning Call reported. Like many colleges, Lafayette has a "Good Samaritan" policy that assures students that they will not be punished for underage drinking when they seek medical attention for themselves or others. So far this academic year, athletes have made up half of those needing medical attention due to binge drinking, and athletics officials said that they were going to start punishing such athletes, with suspensions from competition.

Some athletes are predicting that the new policy will discourage students from seeking help, potentially endangering them. But Bruce McCutcheon, the athletics director, defended the new policy. "It is a privilege to wear Lafayette on your chest. If you choose behaviors that are not responsible, you need to be prepared for the consequences," he said.

September 9, 2013

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has lifted the sanction of "on notice" from Ashford University, according to a corporate filing from Bridgepoint Education, the for-profit university's holding company. The commission had been concerned that Ashford would not meet its new standards for accreditation, including a requirement for colleges to have a "substantial presence" in the regional accreditor's geographical domain. But the university apparently resolved those issues. In a related action, Ashford's biggest accreditation victory this year has been to successfully transfer its status to the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, a move that took two tries.

September 9, 2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week gave a lift to free speech rights for faculty members at public colleges and universities by ruling that a 2006 Supreme Court decision does not limit those rights. Instead, the appeals court found that a more general First Amendment analysis protects those rights. The 2006 ruling, in Garcetti v. Ceballos, limited the speech rights of public employees. But the decision, which concerned the Los Angeles district attorney's office, noted that the ruling did not deal with identical issues to those found in public higher education. Despite that, some courts have been applying the ruling to faculty disputes at public universities -- while others have not. Faculty leaders have been pushing for clarification of university policies as a way to protect free speech rights amid the uncertain legal environment.

Last week's ruling, which essentially adopted the position of faculty groups with regard to Garcetti, came in a lawsuit by David Demers, a professor who says he was retaliated against with negative performance reviews for writings that criticized the administration. A lower court, citing Garcetti, rejected the suit, which has now been revived by the appeals court. The appeals court sent the case back to the district court, however, and did not determine whether retaliation had taken place.

September 9, 2013

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about accreditation and student learning. The articles aren't today's breaking news, but reflect long-term trends and some of the forward-looking thinking of experts on how colleges are responding to the increasing pressure they're facing in accreditation to measure student learning. The goal is to provide these materials (both news articles and opinion essays) in one easy-to-read place. Download the booklet here.

This is the third in a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Wednesday, September 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed's editors will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles and essays, as well as the latest developments involving accreditation and student learning. To register for the webinar, please click here.

September 9, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Bill Fischel of Dartmouth College reveals the history of the modern academic calendar. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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