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Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The Wesleyan University chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is suing the university for "discrimination, misrepresentation and deceptive practices" over Wesleyan's order that its fraternities must become coeducational. Delta Kappa Epsilon is one of just two officially recognized on-campus fraternities at the university. The other, Psi Upsilon, is facing a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault, as is an unofficial off-campus fraternity called Beta Theta Pi.

In September, Wesleyan said it would give residential fraternities three years to become coeducational. The DKE lawsuit, filed by undergraduate and alumni members of the fraternity, alleges that the university "broke this promise" and fast-tracked its decision to deny DKE housing rights less than five months after its initial demand, and two days before the university's housing selection process began.

"As a result, the student members of DKE fraternity have inexplicably and without reasonable notice been stripped of their rights to on-campus housing and the fraternity denied the annual rental income it is entitled to as owner of the property," the chapter said in a statement.

The suit, which seeks an injunction to restore DKE's housing next year, states that the university's refusal to "permit male fraternity brothers to reside in single-sex housing flies in the face of the university's willingness to allow many other diverse groups to reside by choice with members of the same sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, culture, sexual orientation, sexual identification and the like."

The fraternity said it made "good faith efforts to achieve a workable solution" during the last five months, but the university said it disagrees. In a statement Thursday, Wesleyan said the lawsuit has no merit, and that the fraternity "expressly disavowed any commitment" to become coeducational.

"DKE’s annual program housing agreement was terminated for the next academic year only after the organization repeatedly failed to take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments toward residential coeducation before the date on which the housing selection process began," the university stated. "The DKE house has historically operated very differently than other special interest program houses at Wesleyan in many ways, but notably that it explicitly prohibits residence by females. This must change."

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Thursday that Anna Deavere Smith will deliver the 44th Jefferson Lecture on April 6. Smith is an actress and playwright known for works of nonfiction theater -- such as Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 -- in which she plays multiple roles. Her lecture will be called “On the Road: A Search for American Character."

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Texas officials have narrowed their search to replace University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers to three names, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

The paper identified the three finalists -- all men -- as Greg Fenves, the university's executive vice president and provost; Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford; and David Daniel, president of University of Texas at Dallas.

The paper also reported that Ohio State University's provost, Joseph Steinmetz, had been a finalist but decided not to go for the job.

Powers, who announced last year he is leaving this summer, was last week hit with a report that said he overruled admissions officials to admit potentially subpar students, including at least some who had moneyed ties or politically connected backers. 

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Queen's University in Canada announced Thursday that Melody Torcolacci, an instructor accused of teaching scientifically invalid anti-vaccine arguments, would not be returning to teach the health course in which she made the statements, The Globe and Mail reported. But Provost Alan Harrison said that an anti-vaccine PowerPoint used in the class -- prompting student complaints -- may have been taken out of context. He said that the PowerPoint was anti-vaccine, but that he was not sure the same could be said of the class lectures. Nonetheless, he said that the instructor would be returning to teach other courses, not this one.

David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that the association has been limited in its analysis of the case so far. "We’ve weighed in only to say that we need to be cautious about jumping to conclusions on this one," he said. "There is a lot we don’t know, and [we] need to be wary of trial by social media."

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 5:00am

A new university system focused on health care -- and financed in an unusual way -- was announced this morning, backed by the German publishing giant Bertelsmann.I'm not sure I understand how Bertelsmann is involved here—just with a financial stake in Arist? Possible to add another line clarifying? sb Arist Education System said it would create a system of graduate and professional health and human sciences institutions. The first institution to join the system is California's Alliant International University, which specializes in psychology, health sciences and law. Like the other institutions as part of Arist, Alliant -- which has been a private nonprofit university -- will become a public benefit corporation, a form of for-profit company that strives to pursue a social mission.

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of California at San Francisco has received a $100 million gift from the philanthropist Charles Feeney. The funds will be used for the medical university's hospitals, neuroscience and aging programs, student scholarships and faculty recruitment.


Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

A new research collaborative was announced Thursday to promote academic study of efforts that promote success for minority boys and men. The effort is called RISE, for Research, Integration, Strategy and Evaluation. The codirectors are Shaun Harper of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Sharon Norris-Shelton of Equal Measure.

Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Richard Veit, an anthropologist at Monmouth University, offers a historical profile of Point Breeze, the lavish garden heDoes the "he" refer to Joseph Bonaparte, as it says in the hed, not Richard Veit? sb brought to life on his New Jersey estate. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

Illinois's new governor, Bruce Rauner, this week proposed a $387 million cut to the state's higher education budget. About $209 million of that will come from the University of Illinois -- that's nearly one-third of the system's state subsidy. 

"A budget cut of that magnitude would substantially harm our students and the people of Illinois by most severely impacting the university’s core education and research missions," Robert Easter, the president of the three-campus system, said in a statement. He promised to vigorously lobby against the cuts. While the governor is a Republican, Democrats have the majority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois is one of the few states to see dramatic increases in higher ed spending in the last few years, but none of the money has gone into the classroom -- instead, the state has been ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a broken pension system.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

William Mitchell College of Law, a free-standing institution, and the law school of Hamline University will merge, the institutions have announced. Both are located in St. Paul. The combined law school will be known as Mitchell|Hamline School of Law and "will be an autonomous, nonprofit institution governed by an independent board of trustees, with a strong, visible and long-lasting affiliation to Hamline University," said a statement from the Mitchell law school. An analysis in MinnPost noted that both law schools have been seeking more students, but that many experts believe that the Minnesota legal education scene has more law schools than it may need.



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