Higher Education Quick Takes
In April, the Department of Defense said it would issue a revised version of the memorandum of understanding that colleges and universities must sign to participate in military tuition assistance programs in order to address concerns from some in higher education. On Thursday, after months of delay, a draft of the new version of the memorandum was officially announced.
The memorandum, first proposed in March 2011, was intended to crack down on abuses and raise the standard for participating in the military tuition assistance programs. But some selective institutions of higher education protested requirements that they conform to the principles of Servicemember Opportunity Colleges, a voluntary association. That would have required more lenient residency and transfer of credit requirements (such as giving credit for military training) than some colleges wanted to accept, and the American Council on Education argued that it would interfere with colleges' right to set their own academic policies. The new version requires that colleges either join the voluntary association or disclose their policies before service members enroll.
Institutions must sign the memorandum by March 1 in order to participate in tuition assistance programs.
Utah's Dixie State College, founded in a part of the state that attracted settlers from the South who once dreamed of turning the area into a cotton-producing region, is debating whether its name suggests support for Confederate causes. While that debate continues, the university has removed a statue from campus that shows a Confederate soldier with the Confederate battle flag, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The statue has been the site of some rallies calling for the university to change its name. "The statue has become a lighting rod. We feel bad about that," said Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State. "It’s a beautiful piece of art. We are nervous something might happen to the statue. It might be vandalized."
Jerry Anderson, the Utah sculptor who created the work, told the Tribune that the university should not have removed it. "It looks like they have succumbed to the adversary," Anderson said. "They are a bunch of wusses. That’s the first action taken to get rid of it. The other people are winning. That’s the way it is in the world. We are giving in to people who really aren’t Americans."
Faculty members at several universities in Ukraine say that they are being urged by their bosses to give low grades to students, Kyiv Post reported. The professors say that they have been told that the government doesn't have enough money for all the student stipends that have been awarded, and that low grades will disqualify some recipients. The Education Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
The University of Notre Dame on Wednesday announced that it would create a recognized gay-straight alliance as a student organization at the Roman Catholic university, one result of a review of the college's policies on gay and lesbian students. Students and faculty have pushed for more resources for gay and lesbian students, including both the gay-straight alliance and the addition of sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination clause. While the plan announced Wednesday includes a range of changes, including a new advisory committee on gay and lesbian issues and a full-time staff member to oversee resources for gay students, it does not include any new plans for dealing with faculty issues or action on the nondiscrimination clause.
The National Science Foundation on Wednesday announced an expansion of its graduate fellows program that will allow selected graduate students to work for 3-12 months in one of eight countries. The idea is to encourage international collaboration early in researchers' careers. The countries are Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden.
The American Historical Association, trying to build buzz for its annual meeting in January in New Orleans, is asking historians for names of drinks to be served at hotel bars during the meeting. Among the nominees that have come in so far: ABD, Postmodern Turn, Oral History ("your mouth will never forget it"), the Jacobite Rebellion ("Scotch with just a soupcon of haggis floating in it") and the Dead White Male.
Roger Williams University has announced that it will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. "While we recognize that standardized tests accurately measure aptitude for many students, there are many others whose talents are not measured by such tests and they can serve as an artificial barrier to many highly qualified students, preventing them from even considering an RWU education," said a statement from the university.
About a dozen students occupying the clock tower at Cooper Union, protesting the decision by the president of one of the last remaining institutions to offer students a tuition-free education to take it off that short list. The students, who began their protest Monday, vowed Tuesday to remain until their list of demands, including the president’s resignation and a hiring freeze, are met. The occupation is the latest action by students unhappy with the steps taken by President Jamshed Bharucha, who said in April that the institution would start charging for some new graduate programs, and might start charging tuition for all students after 2013. Police have been in and out of the clock tower, and Bharucha said in a statement Tuesday that his first priority is the safety of the students, whose full tuition is covered through scholarships. Faculty members held a press conference at the site Tuesday afternoon, reaffirming their support for a tuition-free college.
A University of Alabama graduate student faces criminal charges of stalking and making terroristic threats against officials there in e-mail messages, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The newspaper said that Zachary Burrell, a doctoral student in physics, had been jailed since Friday as a result of “erratic” e-mails that included video clips of a movie ("Dark Matter") that depicted a graduate student's 1991 shootings of professors and a peer at the University of Iowa. While the e-mails "did not contain direct threats to the general campus population,” according to a university spokeswoman quoted by the newspaper, a deposition filed in court said that he had been dismissed from the university for "various behavioral issues.”