Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 12, 2022

The Black Cultural Center at the University of Utah received a bomb threat Tuesday morning.

University of Utah police are investigating the threat with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interim Police Chief Jason Hinojosa told KUTV 2News. No bomb was found after a search of the building.

Hinojosa called the threat “very sad and infuriating.”

“This is meant to harass,” he said. “This is meant to torment, to stoke up fear, and it’s something we take very, very seriously.”

The bomb threat, which was made in a call to a crisis center call line in California, comes after a rash of similar threats at historically Black colleges and universities last week.

“The University of Utah is not a haven for this kind of hateful and biased thinking and attacks, and university leaders have committed to completing a thorough review with actionable steps to be implemented during the spring semester,” the university tweeted. “This assault on the security of our Black students, faculty and staff requires sensitivity, compassion and timely action.”

January 12, 2022

The University of Louisville told professors there is “no wiggle room” on its policy against remote teaching, despite the rise of the Omicron variant, the Courier Journal reported. David Owens, interim dean of arts and sciences, also reportedly told department chairs that moving designated in-person courses online during the COVID-19 case surge “may result in discipline.” Some 500 professors, staff members and students have signed a petition against the in-person-only policy, with professors generally seeking flexibility to hold class sessions online if they so choose.

John Karman, university spokesperson, reportedly told the Journal, “Because the science shows that classroom learning is safe and more effective, we feel it is vital to provide the best educational experience possible for our students.” Interim president Lori Stewart Gonzalez previously emailed faculty members and students to say that “in-person instruction and normal business operations” will proceed this semester because “severe illness to fully vaccinated individuals from contracting COVID remains very low.”

January 12, 2022

California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022–23 state budget promises hefty funding increases for the state’s higher education systems. The total $39.6 billion higher education budget includes a 5 percent annual increase in base funding for five straight years for the University of California and California State University systems, as well as $1.6 billion in new funding for the state’s 116 community colleges.

Over all, UC would gain $307.3 million in ongoing funding and CSU $304.1 million.

However, the money is contingent upon the institutions meeting certain targets—including closing the achievement gap among underserved students, increasing graduation rates, lowering student costs and boosting enrollment by California residents.

To that end, the budget proposes increasing funding to add 9,434 California students at Cal State and 7,132 at UC campuses—including 902 seats at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego currently reserved for nonresident students. The budget allocates $31 million to those three campuses to compensate for the higher out-of-state tuition nonresidents pay, the Los Angeles Times noted.

January 12, 2022

The higher education technology company Ellucian announced Tuesday it will acquire CampusLogic, a company that helps students apply for financial aid more easily. Nearly 800 higher education institutions use CampusLogic on behalf of more than five million students.

The acquisition is the first investment by Ellucian since it was acquired by Blackstone/Vista Equity Partners in September. Lindsay Stanley, a spokeswoman for Ellucian, said in an email that the investment in CampusLogic “reinforces the company’s strategy of growth tied to the acceleration of digital transformation in higher ed.”

Stanley said that with CampusLogic in its portfolio, Ellucian will be better positioned to support students in discovering, applying and securing resources needed for enrolling and ultimately receiving their degrees.

Ellucian is a technology solutions provider for more than 2,700 higher education institutions around the world. CampusLogic seeks to simplify the financial aid application process for students while also helping them to discover grants, scholarships and other forms of funding.

Laura Ipsen, CEO of Ellucian, said in a statement that 86 percent of students in the United States now receive financial aid and that institutions are confronting an uptick in financial aid staff departures, creating an increasing workload. She said Ellucian’s track record enabling the digital transformation of higher ed and CampusLogic’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) financial aid product will combine to increase interactivity and speed with which students can get help meeting their financial needs.

“Integrating CampusLogic’s capabilities across Ellucian’s comprehensive SaaS offerings creates new opportunities for innovation beyond student financial success to address the issue of student well-being,” Ipsen said.

Gregg Scoresby, founder and CEO of CampusLogic, will join Ellucian in a new role focused on student success and well-being.

January 12, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security is re-establishing the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, an advisory committee whose primary purpose “will be to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary and DHS senior leadership on matters related to homeland security and the academic community,” according to a notice published today in the Federal Register. The committee will include representatives from academe and from various federal agencies.

January 12, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute: Diya Abdo, professor of English at Guilford College, explores one key way to help refugees in this country. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 11, 2022

University of Utah students gathered outside the main administration building Friday to demand that university leaders take stronger action against racist incidents on campus, KSL.com reported.

The university’s racism response team announced last month that it was investigating two incidents from earlier in the fall. In one case, feces were found on the door to a student’s room; in the second, which occurred in the same dorm, a resident assistant overheard two students talking about people dressed in “white KKK-like attire” who were trying to recruit students in the dorm, according to KSL.com.

Additionally, in September two students allegedly shouted a racial slur at a contract employee making a delivery at a loading dock on campus, then threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods at the worker, KSL.com reported.

Those incidents, among others, prompted the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a student organization on campus, to organize Friday’s protest, which about 40 students attended.

“We are here today to yet again address the complacency and failures of the University of Utah leadership in the face of racist, patriarchal violence,” said student speaker Ermiya Fanaeian. “We have witnessed how empty and useless the responses they currently have in place to such violence are.”

Other speakers urged administrators to meet with student leaders of color, hire and promote more employees of color, and defund the campus police department.

Responding to Friday’s protest, University of Utah officials said in a statement, “We value our students and community members sharing their perspectives and insights … Be certain that we will continue to work as a campus community to make the necessary changes to guarantee our communities of color, and our Black community members in particular, feel safe across campus and especially in their living spaces. We aspire to live by the standards of our Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, that we all have the right to live free of discrimination, harassment, and prejudicial treatment.”

January 11, 2022

Students returning to class at Case Western Reserve University Monday found a dozen vending machines on campus stocked with COVID-19 PCR tests, News 5 Cleveland, an ABC affiliate, reported.

To combat the Omicron surge, the Cleveland university is offering the tests free for all students, faculty and staff. The tester just needs to collect a test kit from a vending machine, complete it and drop it off in a designated spot next to the machine, where the campus lab will pick it up and return results, usually within 24 hours. The vending machines will be stocked with tests for the foreseeable future, News 5 reported, and will eventually carry rapid antigen tests as well. The measure is especially helpful for nursing and medical students who work clinical rotations with odd shifts and aren't able to get tested during regular work hours, Megan Koeth, executive director of the Department of Resiliency for Case Western, told News 5.

“It’s kind of helping us live with COVID,” Koeth said. “I keep saying—it’s here to stay for at least the time being. So what can we do to change our operations to make it so that we can still be here on campus and be safe, but you know we can have all those precautions in place.”

January 11, 2022

After a political science professor from Boise State University made a speech suggesting that women don’t belong in engineering, medicine or law, a student from Boise State raised over $70,000 to create a scholarship for women studying those fields, Good Morning America reported.

The Women in STEM, Medicine and Law Scholarship at Boise State will provide scholarship money annually to one female student starting this fall. Ally Orr, the Boise State senior who started the scholarship, told Good Morning America she launched it after listening to a speech that Scott Yenor, a professor of political philosophy, gave in November at the annual National Conservatism Conference. “Young men must be respectable and responsible to inspire young women to be secure with feminine goals of homemaking and having children,” Yenor said in his remarks. “Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.”

Orr started raising money for the scholarship in early December and sent over 600 emails to professors, faculty and staff with the fundraiser link. Within a few hours, people donated thousands of dollars and the fundraiser went viral outside the Boise State community.

Mike Sharp, a university spokesperson, told Good Morning America the university is “thrilled with the outpouring of support from our community.” The scholarship is endowed and will be awarded in perpetuity each academic year based on how much it continues to grow; this year’s scholarship award will be around $2,000.

“I never want a girl to look online and say, ‘Oh look, a professor who teaches in higher education says I should stay out of STEM, medicine and law,’” Orr told Good Morning America. “They should see the scholarship and see that 500-plus donors said, ‘No, I will fund you if you want to go into these areas of study.’”

January 11, 2022

Georgetown College in Kentucky appointed Rosemary Allen, a former provost and dean at the college, to serve as its 26th president, Baptist News Global reported Monday. She will be the Baptist college’s first female president.

Allen had served as interim president since October, when former president William Jones was dismissed after being accused of sexual assault by a former employee, according to the News Global.

“Rosemary Allen was the clear choice as Georgetown’s next president,” said Robert L. Mills, chairman of the Georgetown Board of Trustees. “Through her longstanding commitment to Georgetown—first as a faculty member and later as provost—she has demonstrated with distinction the outstanding qualities we desire in a president to lead this school.”

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