Higher Education Quick Takes
Part of the Occupy Wall Street movement is planning to announce on Monday a campaign to encourage people repaying student loans to stop doing so. The idea is that people will pledge to stop repaying their loans when 1 million people agree to do so. The hope is that such a volume of non-repayment would make it difficult to punish those who opt to stop paying. The repayments could continue, however, if certain conditions are met. Those conditions include making public higher education free to students. The campaign was described to Inside Higher Ed by Andrew Ross, a prominent humanities scholar at New York University, who has been involved with the efforts to start the drive.
Union Theological Seminary, in New York City, has announced that Cornel West will be leaving his Princeton University professorship to become a professor of philosophy and Christian practices at the seminary. West has been a key figure in philosophy, cultural studies and African-American studies at Princeton and, before that, at Harvard University. Earlier in his career, he taught at Union Theological. West told The New York Times that he was going to be taking a significant pay cut to leave Princeton, but that he was ready for the move because Union is “the institutional expression of my core identity as a prophetic Christian.”
The average compensation for a big-time college football coach is $1.47 million this year, up 55 percent over the last six seasons, USA Today reported. The newspaper's study found that the pay in the six conferences that make up the Bowl Championship Series, the increase was roughly the same percentage, but on a larger base. The average salary in those conferences for a head football coach is $2.125 million. The USA Today analysis found that 64 coaches are making more than $1 million, of which 32 are being paid more than $2 million and 9 are making more than $3 million.
India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday announced plans to create a "meta university." This new university would be a structure that would allow students to simultaneously enroll in programs at multiple institutions. "This would enable a student of astrophysics in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, for example, to take up a course in comparative literature at the Jadavpur University. Such creative reconfigurations are expected to create 'new minds' conducive to the growth of innovation," said Singh, in a speech at India's National Innovation Council.
Cabrini College has announced that it is cutting tuition by 12.5 percent, to $29,000, for 2012-13. Some colleges that have in the past cut or frozen tuition rates have fairly quickly seen increases in subsequent years, but Cabrini has imposed a limit on future increases. It has pledged that tuition will remain below $30,000 through May of 2015. The college also said that current merit scholarship awards will not be reduced.
The career services office at Pennsylvania State University is offering students advice on what to do if they are asked by prospective employers about the sex-abuse scandal. In a letter, the office says that it has not experienced cancellations of recruiting sessions, but has received questions from students about what to do if the topic comes up.
The advice is as follows: "Students may acknowledge that they are primarily concerned for the victims and also concerned for Penn State in these unsettling times. However, students should keep the focus on the job or internship for which they are applying and how they will excel in the opportunity. Students should note that they can only take personal responsibility for their individual actions. Talk about the good work accomplished at Penn State in building the skills and professional qualities in preparation for the position, and about the excitement to put those skills to work for the employer. Inform the employer or internship site that, if hired, you will reflect favorably on the employer through your good work, core values and skill obtained through our university."
Canadian university leaders are defending their new statement on academic freedom, which has been criticized by faculty leaders for what they see as limits on the protections it provides for academics. Faculty leaders have said that the references in the statement to peer review suggest that ideas that have yet to capture a critical mass of support may not be covered (in the view of university leaders), potentially hurting those who challenge conventional wisdom in their disciplines. The Canadian Association of University Teachers recently released an open letter outlining concerns about the new statement, which it said would "undo many of the advances that have been achieved in the understanding of academic freedom over the past 100 years." Now the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which prepared the academic freedom statement, has responded with a letter to the faculty group. The university letter states: "We have confidence in the peer review process and the standards of research and teaching in our academic disciplines. We do not share your concern that these processes and standards may not apply to 'ideas at the margin or ideas that are critical of the mainstream.' Our position is based on the rigor of inquiry, not the outcome."
Rutgers University says it wants to be fair to those who want to supply food to its students and employees. But a plan at the New Brunswick campus to do so may result in kicking out "grease trucks" that have for years been situated in parking lots serving sandwiches with names such as "Fat Darrell" and "Fat Cat," The Star-Ledger reported. Many students are outraged. Anthony Sandelli told the newspaper that his favorite sandwich is the "Fat Beach" (cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and french fries). He said it would be a "disgrace" to force the trucks to move. "This is their spot and nobody should be able to take that away from them," said Sandelli.
Thirty-one scientists from 21 colleges and universities in Iowa have issued a letter to the Republican presidential candidates, urging them to admit that the science of climate change is real. Many of the candidates have asserted that there is not a scientific consensus on the issue, even though scientists say that such a consensus exists. Gov. Rick Perry, for example, has called himself a "skeptic" on climate change. Mitt Romney, the frontrunner, has in the past acknowledged climate change but of late has backtracked from that position. The Iowa letter was drafted by four professors at Iowa State University.