Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 8, 2013

Amid a slew of actions on the first day of its 2014 term, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand two appeals court rulings that raised free speech issues on college campuses. In one, Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo, the justices declined to hear a challenge to a 2012 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld Toledo's firing of a former human resources administrator who had made comments some viewed as anti-gay. The Sixth Circuit panel ruled that Dixon was a policy maker who engaged in speech on a policy issue related to her position, and that the university’s interests in upholding its equal opportunity polices outweighed her interests in commenting on a matter of public concern.

The Supreme Court also declined to hear Ed Ray v. OSU Student Alliance, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last year ruled that student journalists at Oregon State University had provided sufficient evidence to prove a free speech violation by administrators who signed off on the seizure of a conservative publication's distribution bins, but were prevented from presenting it because the lower court judge erred in not letting them amend their lawsuit.

October 8, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Berry Brosi of Emory University explores the impact of pollinator loss on bee behavior and fidelity to their favorite flowers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 8, 2013

First the University of Phoenix paid millions of dollars to plaster its name on the stadium where the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals play their games. Then Bridgepoint Education, a fast-growing for-profit education company, sponsored the Holiday Bowl college football game in San Diego, where its corporate headquarters are located. But with Bridgepoint's primary institution, Ashford University, facing significant scrutiny from Congress and challenges (now mostly resolved) in retaining its accreditation, the company opted to let its sponsorship expire this year.

Now another university -- a nonprofit one -- is stepping in. National University, a professionally focused institution that is part of a growing system of similar colleges, will become the title sponsor of the Holiday Bowl this year, the Union-Tribune of San Diego reported. National does not have any sports teams itself.

 

 

October 8, 2013

A state legislator has introduced legislation aimed at largely exempting public university executive searches from Florida's expansive open meeting and public-record laws, The Gainesville Sun reported. Florida's sunshine laws are among the most reaching in the country, and the legislation introduced by State Rep. Dave Kerner says that the laws create a "chilling effect on the number and quality of applicants" for president and other top university jobs. The bill would protect the names of candidates until finalists are chosen, at least 21 days before a final candidate is selected.
 

 

October 8, 2013

Francois Englert of Université Libre de Bruxelles and Peter W. Higgs of the University of Edinburgh were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics this morning. They were honored for "the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider."

 

October 7, 2013

Adam Ackley and Azusa Pacific University jointly announced on Friday that he would be leaving his position at the university. Ackley has taught theology at Azusa Pacific for 15 years, and until recently he did so as a woman. When he revealed that he was transgender and had transitioned to become a man, officials at the Christian university questioned whether he could stay. Students and others have rallied around Ackley. The joint statement said: "Dr. Ackley and university leadership have engaged in thoughtful conversations regarding Dr. Ackley’s continued employment at APU and recognized that they have different views on the theology of human sexuality. While we appreciate Dr. Ackley’s past service and pray God’s best for the journey ahead, we have reached a mutual agreement that recognizes it would be best for Dr. Ackley to pursue professional endeavors elsewhere.”

 

October 7, 2013

The Center for Student Opportunity has begun a campaign called "I'm First" that is aimed at first-generation college students. The nonprofit group, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, created a website inspired by Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" videos. The site includes testimonial videos featuring first-generation graduates, as well as tips and guidance about how to navigate college.

October 7, 2013

U.S. News & World Report has announced revisions (downward) of the statistics given by Providence College for the average SAT and ACT scores of the class that entered in fall 2012. The average critical reading score on the SAT was really 569, not the 611 that had been reported. The average mathematics score on the SAT was 580, not the 624 reported. Further, the composite ACT score was 25, not 28. Other SAT and ACT figures reported by Providence (including the 25th and 75th percentile scores) were accurate. The magazine said that correcting the data did not change the college's ranking. A spokesman for the college said that the data errors were simply a mistake by the institution, and that the college identified the error and reported it as soon as it was discovered.

 

October 7, 2013

Yale University police are apparently seeking a “poopetrator,” the Yale Daily News reported, as multiple students in a residence hall have returned to the laundry room to find their clothing soiled in urine, feces and food waste. Also last week, someone hung several items of clothing smeared with feces outside a different residence hall, then apparently notified Daily News reporters via an anonymous e-mail address, the.yale.poopetrator@gmail.com, according to the New Haven Register. The emails were signed "Copro Philiac," presumably referring to coprophilia, an obsession with excrement. A residence hall official told the Register Yale is upping surveillance and security in laundry areas, and police are investigating the incidents. A Yale spokesman declined to comment.

October 7, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, C. David Williams of Harvard University explains how our bodies store and release energy as we move. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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