Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Association of University Professors has released an open letter to members of the American Studies Association urging them to reject a proposal backed by the group's leaders to endorse a boycott of Israel universities. Members of the American Studies Association are voting on the proposal this month. The AAUP has a longstanding position against boycotting entire universities or countries, and the open letter reiterated those views. "The association recognizes the right of individual faculty members or groups of academics not to cooperate with other individual faculty members or academic institutions with whom or with which they disagree," the letter says. "We believe, however, that when such noncooperation takes the form of a systematic academic boycott, it threatens the principles of free expression and communication on which we collectively depend."
Robert Cameron Redus, a dean's list senior at the University of the Incarnate Word, was shot and killed by a police officer at the university early Friday morning, The San Antonio Express-News reported. The officer is on a paid leave, pending an investigation. Authorities said that the officer pulled Redus over, off campus, for erratic driving, that they fought and that Redus was shot in the struggle. Friends of Redus said that they couldn't believe he would have done something to make a police officer feel the need to use force.
The White House on Friday postponed a meeting with an estimated 140 college leaders that had been scheduled for this week, according to notices administration officials distributed to invited participants. The event was slated to be a discussion of strategies to better serve lower-income students. In order to get in the door the group of college presidents, state and local government officials and other invitees were asked to set a specific goal for improvement in areas such as remediation or enrollment numbers of Pell Grant recipients.
The meeting was bumped, however, because of a trip President Obama and Michelle Obama are taking to South Africa this week to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela. In emails to invitees, White House officials said they remained "100 percent" committed to holding the meeting on higher education, probably in January. In the meantime they encouraged participants to continue to work with the administration to further develop their student-success pledges.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York today announced four college and university presidents as recipients of its 2013 Academic Leadership Award -- an award that comes with $500,000 for each president to use to advance academic initiatives. The winners and some of the accomplishments cited by Carnegie:
- Richard H. Brodhead of Duke University was praised for creating "Duke Engage to provide full funding so that each year some 400 students can undertake immersive civic engagement activities for a minimum of eight weeks in partner communities in the United States and around the world."
- Michael M. Crow of Arizona State University was cited for enrolling a fall 2013 freshman class in which 39 percent of students are from minority groups, a 165 percent increase in minority representation in the entering freshman class since 2002.
- John L. Hennessy of Stanford University was lauded for numerous efforts to involve the university in the reform of elementary and secondary education.
- Beverly Daniel Tatum of Spelman College was honored for promoting science and mathematics programs such that nearly a third of Spelman students earn degrees in those fields, challenging what Tatum calls “the low expectations for women and minorities in science.”
The University of Oregon is condemning the behavior of students who on Friday responded to a snowfall by attacking cars and people with snowballs, making it difficult or dangerous for some people (reportedly including professors) to drive. A statement from the university said it was working with authorities to determine who was involved and whether their actions constituted a criminal act. Here is the video:
Faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago voted overwhelmingly last week to authorize a possible strike, following 17 months of contract negotiations with the institution. Joe Persky, professor of economics and president of the University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty, a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, said in a statement that he hoped to resolve contract negotiations without a strike. Mediation sessions have been scheduled through January.
But if the union decides a strike is necessary, 10 days' notice will be given, as required by law. About 80 percent of voters, both on and off the tenure track, showed up for the election, and 95 percent approved of a possible strike, according to the union. The faculty association says it's pushing for more equitable compensation for non-tenure-track professors and shared governance, among other issues.
In an email to faculty members sent Friday, Lon Kaufman, the provost, said he and other administrators would remain in "immediate contact" with the bargaining team to try to reach a resolution, but said that in the event of a strike, "the university does have an obligation to our students and other constituents to continue normal operations. It should also be emphasized that no faculty member is required to strike or stop work, even if urged by the union. Every faculty member has the right to continue work." He continued: "Frankly, both sides need to focus on resolving the contracts. Please be certain that the UIC administration has heard the proposals by the union and will respond with sincere and meaningful proposals as we move through the mediation phase."
The University of Iowa College of Law will dramatically cut prices in an effort to attract more students in a weak legal market and reduce student debt. The state's Board of Regents approved a plan to cut the law school's sticker price by 18 percent for new and continuing Iowa residents and incoming out-of-state students starting in fall 2014. The reductions, approved Thursday, mean a $7,750 a year reduction for nonresident students to $39,500, and a cut of $4,309 for resident students, to $21,965.
E. Gordon Gee will be named today as interim president of West Virginia University, The Charleston Gazette reported. Gee was 37 years old when he became president of WVU in 1981, and he stayed in the post for four years. Since then he has been president of the University of Colorado, Ohio State University (twice), Brown University and Vanderbilt University. He resigned from the Ohio State presidency in June amid a series of controversies over controversial statements he had made. But he has been much loved over the years by Ohio State trustees, donors and students. In October, Gee was named in October by Ohio Governor John Kasich to lead a state panel to study how to make higher education in the state more effective and efficient.
"Online Education: More Than MOOCs" is a collection of news articles and opinion essays -- in print-on-demand format -- about the many forms of online learning that continue to develop outside the white-hot glare of hype surrounding massive open online courses. The articles aim to put recent developments in online education into long-term context, and the essays present the timely thinking of commentators about experts about how distance education is affecting learning and colleges' business models.
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