David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba, on Thursday became the first Canadian university president to formally apologize for the residential schools that were formerly used in the country to educate many Native Canadians, with the goal of assimilating them into the dominant white culture. Barnard made his apology in a statement to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He noted that the university did not run the schools, but said that did not remove all responsibility for the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate," said Barnard. "Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Trustees at Shorter University, a Baptist institution in Georgia, have voted to add a formal faith statement for the first time, as well as a "personal lifestyle statement" for all university employees that requires them to be members of a local church and and reject all sexual activity "not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."
Such requirements are not uncommon at Christian colleges, and have been a policy at Shorter for many years, vice president for public relations Dawn Tolbert wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. Still, the written statements are a first for Shorter, which also added a document on "the integration of faith and learning" that requires faculty and staff members to submit annual plans on how they will integrate their faith with their working life, as well as a philosophy on Christian education. They are part of an effort to brand the college as a more "intentionally Christian university," Tolbert said.
The University of Idaho on Thursday revealed that it had received multiple complaints about Ernesto Bustamante, the psychology professor who killed himself this year shortly after killing a graduate student with whom he had a relationship, the Associated Press reported. The university on Thursday released extensive documents about Bustamante and also announced it was reviewing its policies on relationships between faculty members and students. Bustamante told the university he was bipolar shortly after he was hired, but he also indicated that he was receiving appropriate treatment and medication. Duane Nellis, the university president, said at a press briefing that the university cannot dismiss people for being bipolar. "We, as an institution when we hire people, we’re not allowed to ask for medical conditions, or anything like that," Nellis said. "Bipolar is something that’s certainly treatable."
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Skolkovo Foundation and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (known as SkTech) announced Wednesday that they would jointly create a new graduate research university in Russia. The new university will offer graduate degrees in these fields:
- Energy science and technology
- Biomedical science and technology
- Information science and technology
- Space science and technology
- Nuclear science and technology
A federal judge on Wednesday extended a restraining order barring Linn State Technical College from going ahead with its plan to test all new students for illegal drugs, the Associated Press reported. Judge Nanette Laughrey, while not issuing a final ruling on the legality of the plan, suggested it will run into trouble. Students, backed by civil liberties groups, are challenging the drug-testing plan.
Israel is experiencing a growth in private master's programs -- which receive no government support -- at otherwise government-funded universities, Haaretz reported. In the last six years, the number of such programs has increased from 26 to 51. The programs charge much higher tuition than the rest of the universities that house them, and proponents say that these offerings help provide funds for the rest of higher education. But critics say the growth of these programs is creating a two-tiered system, where those who can afford to pay more get better access to high-demand programs than do other students.
A federal judge has rejected a conservative student group's suit against the University of Wisconsin at Madison over student fees, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The conservative students noted that a similar liberal group had received funds, but the judge noted that subsequent to the suit being filed, the liberal group's funding was ended. If there is evidence in the future of viewpoint discrimination, the judge said, the conservative group could sue again.
Southern University at Baton Rouge is ending Friday classes next semester, condensing the course schedule to a four-day week, The Advocate reported. The move is expected to save money on utility costs in classroom buildings, while freeing up more time for student advising and faculty office hours on Friday. Employees will all still be required to work on Fridays.
In the year since a student at the University of Notre Dame died when the aerial lift on which he was making videos of practices for the football team fell, many colleges and universities have changed their policies on the use of such lifts, the Associated Press reported. Some universities -- including Notre Dame -- have stopped using the lifts, which were designed for construction sites, not football fields. Others have continued their use but have issued new policies, such as barring their use on particularly windy days.