Higher Education Quick Takes
Egyptian authorities have released two Canadian professors who have been held for seven weeks, reportedly in terrible conditions, The Globe and Mail reported. The professors were arrested (for reasons that have been unclear) during an anti-government protest. The professors are John Greyson, an associate professor of film at York University, and Tarek Loubani, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Western Ontario. They were planning to travel to Gaza, where Greyson was to explore the possibility of making a documentary and Loubani was involved in a program to train local doctors.
City Colleges of Chicago have begun construction on the new Malcolm X College and School of Health Sciences. The campus, which will be adjacent to the college's current location, will be 500,000 square feet and have the capacity for an enrollment of 20,000 students. The construction is part of a five-year, $524 million capital improvement campaign at the seven-college system.
Trustees of Loyola Marymount University, in California, will vote today on whether to end the coverage for abortions in the health insurance offered to faculty and staff members, The New York Times reported. Some alumni and others have encouraged the university to take this action to make its policies more consistent with Roman Catholic teachings. But many faculty members -- many of whom are not Catholic -- view the vote as changing a longstanding tradition of inclusiveness under which non-Catholics were not made to feel that they need to adopt church views.
Three researchers were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine this morning for "their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells." The winners are: James E. Rothman, professor and chair of cell biology at Yale University; Randy W. Schekman, professor of molecular and cell biology at the the University of California at Berkeley and an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Thomas C. Südhof, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University.
High school students typically complain about all the college marketing materials they receive from colleges they have never heard of, but many are flattered when a big-name institution shows interest. But social media are picking up on an unusual complaint about the University of Chicago: that it's bombarding some potential applicants (even those unlikely to be admitted) with mail. A series of posts on College Confidential talk about applicants getting two or three mailings a week from Chicago. Wrote one parent: "There is no way my daughter has the stats to be accepted there, but we have gotten a ridiculous amount of mail from them as well. I find it bordering on offensive; clearly they are just trying to increase the number of applicants." Said another: "My son gets several mailers a week from U Chicago. It's become a joke at our house!"
Via e-mail, James Nondorf, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Chicago, said via e-mail that the university tries "very hard to make sure we are striking the right tone and timing with our messages, and that we are engaging the appropriate students." He said that the university reviews search parameters every year, and that there were no major changes this year, except for increased efforts to reach talented low-income and first generation students.-But he said that Chicago plans to post the following note on College Confidential: "In our materials, we aim to try and communicate a bit more of the UChicago experience to students (or parents) who may find themselves a good fit for our programs for a variety of reasons, but may not be able to visit campus or learn more about the college from friends or classmates. Students often find their way to our mailing list by indicating their interest in receiving materials from colleges either on our website or when they take a standardized test. While we'd be sad to see you go, anyone who is not interested in continuing to receive materials from UChicago is encouraged to unsubscribe from our mail by clicking here: [unsubscribe link]). We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and we wish you the best of luck in the college admissions process and hope you find a wonderful future college home."
Tensions surrounding the spending by Westfield State University's president have escalated over the past few days.
Evan Dobelle, president of Westfield State, is currently facing scrutiny from state officials over his widespread foreign and domestic travel, and other expenses -- sometimes without appropriate documentation. On Thursday, he missed a deadline from state officials for a full documentation of his expenses, saying he needed a little more time. Richard Freeland, the commissioner of higher education, responded on Friday by immediately suspending $197,000 in state grants to Westfield State, and seeking authorization to suspend $2 million for a science building, The Boston Globe reported.
Then on Saturday, Dobelle issued a letter accusing his board of violating state law and its bylaws in the way it has investigated his spending, The Republican reported. A spokesman said that Dobelle wants to "protect the integrity of the university against witch hunts like this in the future." The board is scheduled to hold a special meeting this month to discuss Dobelle's spending, which has included travel to trips to Thailand, Vienna, London and San Francisco.
The "Pay It Forward" concept -- in which students would not pay tuition to attend public colleges, but would pay a share of their salaries after graduation -- has attracted considerable attention in recent months. But a coalition of education groups issued a statement Friday opposing the idea. The group's analysis says that such plans would increase the cost of higher education, do nothing about the "state disinvestment" in higher education and create the wrong incentives for public colleges. For example, the groups say that public colleges would have an incentive to build up programs likely to attract students who will earn the most money after graduation, which may not be the most important programs for a state or its higher education system. "We are heartened that state lawmakers are taking the student debt crisis seriously and are seeking solutions. However, these solutions need to actively attack, not obscure, the root cause of rising student costs and debt -- declining state investment in high quality public higher education. Pay It Forward moves us in the wrong direction," the statement concludes.
The groups that signed were: American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Professors, AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Colorado Student Power Alliance, Education Trust, Jobs With Justice, National Education Association, Student Labor Action Project (and University of Oregon Student Labor Action Project) and the Institute for College Access and Success.
Six current or former University of Louisville women's lacrosse players have accused the coach, Kellie Young, of abusive tactics, The Courier-Journal reported. Among their allegations are that the coach required a player with a torn anterior cruciate ligament to do 250 push-ups in an airport terminal, that she told two team members that they had to sign a contract not to talk to one another, and that she called players "alcoholics," "bipolar bitches" and "princess pussies." Young disputed the allegations, as did two co-captains on the team. But Young acknowledged trying to push players hard, in part through the things she says to them. "I tell my leaders, 'It's acting. I’m just trying to get a reaction out of you. If you’re going to be mad at me, great ... if that means you're gonna play harder.' "
The Council of Independent Colleges has launched a new online campaign on the value of liberal arts colleges. The website features data, testimonials from educators and alumni, and information on the careers and lives of graduates of the colleges.