Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 7, 2018

Wesleyan College, a women’s liberal arts college in Macon, Ga., announced in late July that it will no longer allow class names because the practice has been “embroiled in historical controversy.”

Traditionally, each class of students is assigned one of four rotating class names, but in recent years the naming system has been a focal point of racial tensions on campus because three of the names -- the Green Knights, the Purple Knights and the Golden Hearts -- have links to the Ku Klux Klan. In the past, the link was more direct; the Classes of 1909, 1913 and 1917 chose “Ku Klux Klan” as their class name. The college’s statement did not address the specific references to the Klan but referred to “the South’s racist past.”

“The class names themselves have been embroiled in historical controversy. One name had clear connections to the South’s racist past, but the connection is less clear for the others,” the statement read in part. “Nevertheless, activities related to class names and traditions have fostered some of the campus’s racial tension in recent years. While the class structure served as a bonding tradition for many years, the same is not as true today.”

Wesleyan's statement affirmed that some traditions, including class colors, will continue, and mentioned the creation and later removal of sororities as a precedent for retiring the names.

“Just as sororities were retired in 1917, class names will be retired for current and future students,” the statement read. “Class colors of purple, green, red, and gold will continue to connect past, present, and future students."

August 7, 2018

The publishing giant Elsevier has announced plans to acquire Aries Systems, a company that offers publishing workflow tools for scholarly journals to manage manuscript submissions, peer review and production.

Writing for "The Scholarly Kitchen," a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink, described a “varied” reaction to the news, with some observers decrying a lack of "independent" options for manuscript management.

Aries Systems’ Editorial Manager platform is widely used by scholarly journal publishers, including competitors of Elsevier such as Springer Nature and PLOS.

Angela Cochran, associate publisher and journals director at the American Society of Civil Engineers, also wrote for "The Scholarly Kitchen" about the acquisition. Cochran said she had confidence that Aries understood the importance of safeguarding her society's editorial data, but she noted there is “significant concern that we can be priced out of services or see a measurable loss of service.”

In a news release, Elsevier stated it is “committed to providing the same strong and consistent service for both publishers and researchers as Aries provides today.”

Aries Systems is the latest in a series of scholarly workflow companies to be acquired by Elsevier in the last five years, including Mendeley, the Social Science Research Network and Bepress.

August 7, 2018

You can now swipe right on Utah State University.

The university announced Friday that it had created a profile on Tinder, a popular dating app, as part of an outreach effort to spread information about relationships and consent to students. The profile includes messages about healthy relationships and contact information for the Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information Office, Fox 13 reported. The university hopes to use the app to help prevent sexual assault, especially after Torrey Green, a former linebacker at Utah State, used the app to reach the women who accused him of sexual assault.

The account has since been removed by the app, but university officials hope they will have it back up and running in the coming weeks.

August 7, 2018

National Louis University won regulatory approval of its takeover of Chicago’s Kendall College programs from the for-profit Laureate Education, and the transfer of programs officially took place Monday.

The transaction included Kendall College’s general education program, along with five degree programs in business, culinary arts, early childhood education, hospitality management, and baking and pastry. National Louis, a nonprofit institution, created within itself a fourth college, the Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

About 800 students are transferring from Kendall to National Louis, the university said in a news release Monday. It enrolls over 7,400 students per year on six campuses in Illinois and Florida.

Programs will be relocated to National Louis locations. The early childhood education program will be fully online.

In January, Baltimore-based Laureate sold Kendall to National Louis for $1 and agreed to pay as much as $14 million to support construction of culinary and hospitality program facilities. The move followed a strategic review of operations, and Kendall was one of several institutions around the globe Laureate sold.

But the Kendall transaction did not officially close until after it was approved by the Higher Learning Commission and the U.S. Department of Education.

August 7, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Ray Raymond, professor of government and history at the State University of New York Ulster, examines how protectionism at home may lead to bigger troubles abroad. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 6, 2018

James B. Milliken was on Saturday named the sole finalist as chancellor of the University of Texas System.

In November, Milliken announced that he would step down as chancellor of the City University of New York. At the time, he noted board turnover -- only 2 of the 17 trustees on the board today were among those who recruited him in January 2014. He also said he was being treated for throat cancer and said that while his prognosis was good, the experience has been "draining physically and emotionally." Before serving at CUNY, he had been president of the University of Nebraska. (Via email on Saturday, Milliken said that his physicians report that he is "cured.")

Under Texas law, the university's board of regents must announce a finalist or finalists 21 days before a vote to appoint someone to the position. In recent years, universities have almost always named a sole finalist. The Board of Regents convened in private and voted in public Saturday, without any public comment on the rationale for their choice.

Milliken's name had not been among those most speculated about for the position. That list included Margaret Spellings, who leads the University of North Carolina system, and Rex Tillerson, who was President Trump's first secretary of state.

The University of Texas System includes 14 institutions, with a combined enrollment of more than 230,000.



August 6, 2018

Michael Kimmel, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an internationally known expert on masculinity, asked the American Sociological Association to delay presenting him with a major award for six months, so that still-anonymous allegations of sexual harassment against him can be vetted, he said last week.

"I have been informed that there are rumors circulating about my professional conduct that suggest I have behaved unethically," Kimmel wrote in comments to the association, requesting that they be read at the association’s annual meeting later this month in Philadelphia (he shared the comments with Inside Higher Ed). "While nothing has been formally alleged to the best of my knowledge," he said, "I take such concerns seriously, and want to validate the voices of those who are making such claims. I want to hear those charges, hear those voices, and make amends to those who believe I have injured them."

Kimmel, who has described himself as a "tireless advocate of engaging men to support gender equality," was to be presented the association’s Jessie Bernard Award for broadening research on the role of women in society. Nancy Kidd, executive director of the association, said that a committee of peer reviewers selected Kimmel for the award "based on extensive review of his academic contributions." The association also "takes very seriously any accusations of misconduct against sociologists which violate our Code of Ethics, and we have a process for receiving and addressing complaints," she said. So should a complaint be filed and investigated, "through us or other investigative bodies, that leads to a finding of misconduct, [the association] will take appropriate action."

Kimmel in his statement said that the sociological association cannot act on "rumors," and that he hoped "those making these accusations will file a complaint with the [organization’s] Committee on Professional Ethics so that these accusations can be formally addressed." In order to facilitate that process, he said, "I will defer my acceptance of this award for six months."

August 6, 2018

Hamzeh Daoud, a Stanford University student whose comments on Facebook set off a debate that extended far beyond the campus has announced he is quitting the resident assistant position he was expected to hold during the coming academic year. In his Facebook post, he said that he would “physically fight” Zionists on campus -- a threat critics said was inappropriate in general and especially for an RA. He quickly changed his post to say that he would attack Zionists "intellectually" but that did not stop the controversy. Many demanded that Stanford hold him accountable for the original threat.

In a statement posted to The Stanford Daily, Daoud wrote of his trauma as a Palestinian, but also apologized for the original post. "I acknowledge the language in my first post had a strong negative effect on many in our Stanford community. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to everyone who was triggered by it. I recognize that I was projecting my own trauma onto others in a way that is never acceptable," he wrote. In the statement, he said that he was "stepping down from my job as resident assistant at Stanford University to focus my attentions on my studies and on processing the repercussions of my post."

Stanford issued its own statement Friday. "Following standard university procedure in cases of possible threat, the university has conducted an extensive case assessment, and concluded that the student does not pose a physical threat to other members of the community. His consent allows us to share this information, which is normally private, for the benefit of the community," the statement said.

It added: "As we have said before but cannot emphasize strongly enough, threats of physical violence have absolutely no place in the Stanford community. Students must feel physically safe in our student residences and be able to voice their views on our campus without fear of retaliation. However, in addition to physical safety, it is essential that all students feel a deep and abiding sense of welcome and belonging in our campus community."





August 6, 2018

Lawrence M. Krauss, a well-known physicist and skeptic whom Arizona State University suspended in March pending an investigation into sexual harassment claims again him, no longer leads the institution’s Origins Project. Krauss announced the change on Twitter last week, saying that Arizona State "decided not to renew my director appointment when my most recent 5-year appointment expired in July." It was a "great privilege to create and lead the project at [Arizona State] over the past decade," he wrote. "I am very proud of what my team has accomplished for the university and the broader community during this time."

The university said in a statement that "to avoid further disruption to the normal course of business as the university continues to gather facts about the allegations, Krauss has been placed on paid leave and is prohibited from being on campus for the duration of the review." Krauss has denied the allegations against him detailed in a BuzzFeed article earlier this year, from inappropriate comments to unwanted touching. None pertain to his role at Arizona State. He's also published a statement rebutting each claim in detail and criticizing BuzzFeed’s overall reporting. (Note: This paragraph has been updated to clarify the nature of Krauss's statement.)

Krauss said his colleague, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of Arizona State’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, will take over his role at the Origins Project, which seeks to answer fundamental questions about the origins of humankind.

August 6, 2018

A handful of colleges have distanced themselves from John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, who was recently criticized for using the N-word. Ball State University, Schnatter’s alma mater, is an exception.

The university’s board defended Schnatter and announced that it would continue to support the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, with the current name, the Star Press reports.

"Higher education plays a unique role in the support of free speech and the exchange of ideas that lead to better understanding. In that pursuit, it does not mandate perfection," Rick Hall, chairman of the board of trustees, wrote in a statement Friday. "The language used by John was insensitive and painful to others, making a review of context appropriate."

Hall explained the context of the remarks.

"They were made in a private meeting with consultants, from which he was seeking advice as to how to communicate in a way that would be less offensive to others. In the course of the conversation, he recited his understanding of another’s use of the ‘N word,’" Hall wrote. "He did so not in a derogatory manner seeking to demean any individuals or groups; rather it was used as an example of improper conduct."

The University of Kentucky, Purdue University, Morehouse University and the University of Louisville have all cut their ties to Schnatter.


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