Higher Education Quick Takes
Santa Clara University officials and students have been shaken this month both by incidents of intolerance and leaked video of those incidents. In one instance, people vandalized an art exhibit showing statues to represent the 43 students abducted and presumed dead in 2014 in Mexico. In another, a swastika was drawn in blood on a residence hall elevator.
Officials have vowed to investigate and punish the people involved. But at the same time, officials are concerned about leaked video of the incidents (the statue vandalism may be found here and the swastika incident is below). The video comes from security cameras that are supposed to be used by security officials and not released to the public. Some of the videos posted to social media have had the tag line "SCUWatch is watching."
Princeton University has agreed to pay millions of dollars to a fund to assist local home owners and to provide other funds to support low-income residents in the local area. In return, local taxpayers have agreed to drop a suit challenging the university's exemptions from property taxes. The trial on that suit was scheduled to start today. The university also agreed to extend by two years an agreement under which it makes voluntary contributions to the budget of the town of Princeton.
A statement from President Christopher L. Eisgruber said, "We had every confidence that the courts ultimately would have affirmed the university's continuing eligibility for property tax exemption on buildings and facilities that support its educational, research and service missions, but we concluded that the contributions we will make under the settlement agreement are a better expenditure of funds than continuing to incur the considerable costs of litigation."
A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction ordering the Houston College of Law to stop using that name, citing potential confusion with the University of Houston Law Center, which sought the injunction. The two law schools are quite different. The university's law school has nationally recognized programs and is affiliated with a large research university. The Houston College of Law has a much more local reputation and was until recently called the South Texas College of Law. A federal judge found that the University of Houston has strong trademark rights and that the Houston College of Law not only changed its name but adopted similar colors in its logo -- adding to the potential for confusion. While the ruling is only for a preliminary injunction, the language in the ruling suggested that the judge believes that the university will prevail after a full trial.
On Twitter, the Houston College of Law wrote, "We are disappointed by the court's opinion granting the motion for preliminary injunction. We will share developments as they arise."
The Twitter logos of the two institutions are above, the university's law school at left and the college at right.
Fullerton College, a California community college, is investigating an incident involving its police officers after videotape of the police encounter with a man circulated on social media. Many on Twitter are saying that the incident is one in which police used excessive force on a man who was not doing anything wrong. Greg Schulz, the president, issued a statement saying, in part, "The campus safety officer is being placed on a leave of absence while we work to answer all questions related to this incident. Videos circulating on social media raise many questions. The videos are partial records of the incident and we are working to fully investigate the interaction. We cannot comment further on the incident because it is a personnel matter."
Career Point College, a for-profit institution in San Antonio, notified students and faculty members that it is shutting down, The San Antonio Express-News reported. A letter from the college said that three long-term employees had "collaborated to violate the rules related to student aid funds." After the college reported these violations to the U.S. Education Department, the department rejected a plan by the college to repay funds it received "inappropriately" and restricted the use of federal funds at the college, forcing the shutdown.
Adjuncts at Saint Xavier University voted 29 to 25 to form a union affiliated with the National Education Association, they recently announced. Their ballots had been impounded since 2011, when the Roman Catholic university challenged the right of adjuncts to form a union, saying its religious identity put it outside the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. In an August decision, the NLRB agreed with a regional board office director’s decision that the petitioned-for unit of part-time faculty generally do not play a “role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment.” Notably, the national board did make a distinction between religious studies faculty members and most other faculty members and excluded the former from the bargaining unit. The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A car crash Thursday night killed four students enrolled at Claflin University. A fifth student was injured and remains hospitalized.
“We are hurting and are saddened to hear about the untimely death of four of our students. I call upon the Claflin family to draw closer together and remain strong as we try to comprehend the loss of these members of our Claflin family,” said a statement from President Henry N. Tisdale.
Mike VI (at right), the live tiger mascot used at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge football games, died last week, and some students and alumni -- and many outside the university -- are urging LSU to end the longstanding tradition of having a live tiger mascot.
A petition signed by more than 125,000 states: "While the university has done a wonderful job improving the quality of the tiger's enclosure, increasing its size and improving the variety of outdoor activities for the tiger, it is cruel to sentence another tiger to a life confined in a limited space only to be allowed outside for display at football games for entertainment. Beyond the confinement of one animal, buying tigers encourages the breeding of tiger cubs outside species survival management plans and feeds into the black market for tiger meat, furs, and tiger bone wine."
LSU released a statement indicating that it shares some of the concerns cited in the petition, but is still planning to replace Mike. "LSU is searching for a young tiger, currently living in a rescue facility, that could be donated to LSU. LSU will not engage in breeding tigers to obtain a mascot, nor will LSU purchase a tiger. Instead, LSU is seeking to adopt a tiger that is already living in captivity in the U.S. and give it a better home. LSU’s tiger habitat is 15,000 square feet, includes grass, trees and a pool, and is on par with tiger habitats at the nation’s top zoos. LSU’s mascot receives top-notch care through LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and the mascot only attends football games when he chooses to enter his mobile trailer. Mike VI received an estimated 100,000 visitors each year at his habitat, and through those visits, LSU aims to inspire respect for tigers and awareness of their plight in the wild."
The Lumina Foundation on Monday released a revised strategic plan for achieving its goal of 60 percent of Americans holding a college degree, certificate or other high-quality credential by 2025. The foundation has released a new plan every four years since first proposing the goal in 2008.
The latest iteration provides a more detailed breakdown of the 16.4 million Americans who will need to earn a credential to meet the goal. About 4.8 million are traditional-age students who now are not likely to earn a college degree or certificate. Another 6.1 million are potential returning adult students, who attended college but did not earn a credential. The final group is 5.5 million with no college credits -- 64 million Americans fit this description, Lumina said.
"Through the work we’ve done under our first two strategic plans, we have learned what it will take to reach the goal. But we also have learned that the changes that must be made are not mere tweaks. Modest, incremental improvement will not suffice. Indeed, fundamental redesign is required," the report said. "We must move from a system that is centered on institutions and organized around time to one that is centered on students, organized around high-quality learning and focused on closing attainment gaps. In short, we must build a true system of postsecondary learning from the disconnected and fragmented pieces we have now."