Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 24, 2015

City College of San Francisco's Board of Trustees should be able to regain their governing authority over the large two-year college this summer, Brice Harris, the California community college system chancellor, announced this week. The board had their powers stripped away as part of CCSF's long-running accreditation crisis, which has stabilized to some degree in recent months. Harris also announced the appointment of a new "special trustee" to oversee City College. Guy Lease, a former community college president in California, will serve in that role until the board returns. He replaces Robert Agrella, who retired last month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

February 24, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Jennifer Maynard, a chemical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses her work to fight whooping cough. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

February 23, 2015

Further developments in the collapse of Corinthian Colleges:

  • Canadian authorities have shut down the 14 Corinthian institutions in Canada, finding that they no longer had the right to be licensed in the country. Bloomberg reported that officials said the action was needed to protect current and prospective students.
  • Heald College campuses in California (which are part of Corinthian) on Friday received a partial reprieve from the California Student Aid Commission, which a week earlier had blocked their students from receiving state aid, The Sacramento Bee reported. Under the compromise, the ban will continue through at least April, but if students are able to finish the semester, their aid may be provided in a lump sum at that time.
February 23, 2015

Sojourner-Douglass College, a private institution in Baltimore that focuses on black students and black communities, has lost an appeal to hold on to its accreditation, The Baltimore Sun reported. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education upheld an earlier decision that the college lacked adequate financial resources to operate. The revocation of accreditation will now take place at the end of the academic year, allowing current students to finish the semester. Students must attend colleges that are accredited to receive student aid. State officials said that they would help students transfer to other institutions.

Charles W. Simmons, president of the college, sent an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed in which he vowed to fight the Middle States decision. He blames changes in Pell Grant eligibility for creating financial challenges at the college. "Sojourner-Douglass continues to emerge from this devastating, unpredicted and external, disruptive challenge, and is positioning itself to adjust its finance and business plans, its operations, curricula and programs to enable it to immediately get back on course, again thrive, and realize its vision and mission, while challenging the Middle States decision and continuing to meet the needs of its targeted student population and its service communities," said Simmons.

February 23, 2015

The board of East Carolina University voted Friday to remove the name of Charles Aycock, a former North Carolina governor who was for years a leader of the segregationist white supremacist movement in the state, from a dormitory (at right). Student and faculty groups have been pushing for the move. The university said that it would create a new Heritage Hall, in which contributions to the university by a number of individuals -- including Aycock -- could be acknowledged with context.

East Carolina's action follows a decision by the board of Clemson University not to rename a campus building that currently honors a white supremacist.

February 23, 2015

Wright State University has apologized for a menu last week to mark Black History Month. The Dayton Daily News reported that students complained that the menu, which featured fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread next to a photograph of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reinforced stereotypes. Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, which manages dining at Wright State and posted the menu, released a statement that said: "Chartwells celebrates many national events on campus and tries to provide authentic and traditional cuisine to reflect each theme. In no way was the promotion associated with Black History Month meant to be insensitive. We could have done a better job putting this in context of a cultural dining experience. We sincerely apologize.”

Last year, Drake University and Sodexo, which manages dining there, issued a similar apology for a menu.

February 23, 2015

The U.S. Education Department is today proposing rules for carrying out the First in the World Program, the Obama administration's effort to stimulate innovation in higher education. The notice, published in Monday's Federal Register, lays out the priorities the department will use in awarding the program's grants in 2016. They are: improving developmental education; improving teaching and learning; improving student support services; developing and using assessments of learning; facilitating pathways to credentialing and transfer; and increasing the effectiveness of financial aid.

February 23, 2015

Sixty law professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have issued a statement objecting to plans by the University of North Carolina System board to close the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, which is led by a UNC law professor. A committee vote last week to close the center outraged many faculty and others, who said that there was no financial reason to close a center that does not receive state funds, and who said that they believed it was being closed because of board anger at Gene Nichol, the head of the center, for criticizing conservative policies. (Board officials have denied this.)

The statement from the law professors says that the center is much needed. "Over the past decade, our state has experienced the greatest increase in concentrated poverty in the country. The center has continually sought to call attention to this pressing fact, as well as others that many would prefer to ignore. These include that 25 percent of all children live in poverty, including 40 percent of children of color."

Further, the statement says that attacking the center because of political disagreements with its leader sets a dangerous course for higher education. "To the extent that the working group’s recommendation regarding the Poverty Center is based on animus for our colleague and former dean, Gene Nichol, the Poverty Center’s director, we decry it," the statement says. "Professor Nichol has been a prominent and thoughtful critic of proposals that exacerbate inequality and drive low-income people into ever deeper destitution. Punishing a professor for expressing his views – views always carefully supported by facts and rigorous analysis – chills the free speech that is central to the University’s mission. Such active suppression of free speech contravenes the very lifeblood of a public university, where dialogue and dissent must be permitted to survive and indeed to flourish if scholars are to fulfill their missions of contributing to the collective knowledge of the commonwealth."

 

 

February 23, 2015

Texas higher education officials are estimating that it will cost them $47 million over six years to comply with the "campus carry" bill moving in the Legislature that would permit people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus, The Houston Chronicle reported. The estimates are based on reports from university systems on the costs they would face to build gun lockers and gun storage facilities, to bolster campus police and to provide training to campus personnel.

 

February 23, 2015

Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, regularly publishes articles and makes appearances to dispute the scholarly consensus on climate change. The New York Times reported that Soon took $1.2 million of fossil-fuel industry support for his work, and in numerous cases didn't cite the funding source, as required by journals in which he has published. Soon declined to talk to The Times, but has in the past denied that his funding in any way influences his findings.

The report prompted U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, to call on oil and coal companies to reveal if they are funding scientific research, The Boston Globe reported.

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