Higher Education Quick Takes
Santa Clara University announced Monday that a hacker had managed to improve the grades of 60 undergraduates, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The university has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help track down exactly what happened. An inquiry into the hacking began when a former student came forward to say that a grade on her transcript was better than the one she thought she had earned. The grade changes varied from minor boosts to major ones, changing failing grades to As.
Williams College canceled all classes and athletic activities Monday after an incident of apparent racial bias -- and the college's initial response to it -- agitated many students. The phrase “All Niggers Must Die” was found scrawled on a hallway wall in a campus dorm early Saturday morning, according to a statement released by Adam Falk, the college’s president. An initial e-mail to the campus angered students who thought the message's wording was vague, said Colin Adams, a member of the college’s faculty steering committee and professor of mathematics. Students demanded the cancelation of classes to create time for reflection about the incident, said James Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs. He said a police investigation into the incident is continuing.
Students and faculty and staff members participated in a day’s worth of programming on issues of inequality and diversity. The main event was held near midday, with about 1,000 students, faculty and staff members assembled for several speeches by administrators and student leaders. “As we together organize our individual, group, and college-wide responses, may that be with outrage at what has occurred and at what too many members of the campus community are continually burdened by, along with the resolute sense that in the end we will succeed in making this campus, nation, and world a place that is safe for all,” Falk wrote in his second statement to the campus Monday.
The higher education system in Illinois, once a national model, has seen sharp declines in performance driven not only by funding problems but by governance changes and political corruption, several leading researchers said in the first installment of a multipart study examining state higher education policies. The report, "A Story of Decline: Performance and Policy in Illinois Higher Education," was produced by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Research on Higher Education and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Future studies will examine Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Washington.
A sorority has placed six members on probation for dressing in blackface to depict characters from "The Cosby Show" for a costume party, the Associated Press reported. The women have all met with a group of African-American student leaders to discuss the incident.
Strayer Education, Inc., on Friday announced its purchase of the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online business college that is part of the financially struggling Chancellor University, a for-profit institution in Cleveland. Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, created the college in 2009 with a $2 million minority stake in Chancellor. He is reportedly buying his share back to transfer the school to Strayer. Michael Clifford, a sometimes controversial investor in for-profits, launched Chancellor in 2008 on the platform of the ailing Myers University. Strayer will pay about $7 million for the business college, Reuters reported.
China is opening a new college that will be devoted to the study of tea, Xinhua reported. Officials hope graduates of the college will assume positions in sales, management and business development for the tea industry. The new college will award undergraduate degrees through the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
Some professors at Mississippi Valley State University are criticizing a Faculty Senate vote of no confidence this month in President Donna Oliver, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The Faculty Senate cited a number of problems, including poor relations between the president and the faculty, declining enrollment and budget problems. But faculty members who are not on the Faculty Senate say that they were not consulted about what they consider to have been an important vote. Further, some question the wisdom of such a vote with an accreditation review coming up.
The following are the latest developments from Pennsylvania State University as it struggles to move forward amid a sex-abuse scandal:
- Moody's Investors Service announced that it will conduct a review that could lead the agency to downgrade the university's bond rating (currently Aa1). A statement said: "Moody's will evaluate the potential scope of reputational and financial risk arising from these events. While the full impact of these increased risks will only unfold over a period of years, we will also assess the degree of near and medium term risks to determine whether to downgrade the current Aa1 rating. We will monitor possible emerging risks emanating from potential lawsuits/settlements, weaker student demand, declines in philanthropic support, changes in state relationship and significant management or governance changes."
- Thousands of Penn State students and others attended a candlelight vigil Friday night to express sympathy with victims of sexual abuse and to vow to help such individuals, The Centre Daily Times reported. And at Saturday's football game against the University of Nebraska, fans participated in a moment of silence for the abuse victims, and players from the two teams kneeled together to recognize the victims. The emphasis and tone of the events were in contrast to the protests earlier in the week against the firing of Joe Paterno as football coach.
- The top recruiting prospect for Penn State's football team announced that he was backing away from a pledge to attend the university, ESPN reported.
- For those seeking perspective on how the Penn State scandal compares to other major athletics scandals, Slate has assembled links to some of the better long-form journalism on such scandals in the past, as well as some more recent coverage.