Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 27, 2013

California is falling behind in its ability to provide higher education to its state's citizens, particularly those who enroll outside the elite public and private universities found in the state, according to a report released Tuesday. "Boosting California's Postsecondary Education Performance," from the Committee for Economic Development, reviews the financial, economic and demographic challenges facing the state's colleges and universities and finds that much of the stress is on access institutions that most students attend. Given limited chances for significant infusions of new funds, the report suggests that new ways of providing education will be key. "Without quantum increases in educational access, productivity, and effectiveness of the state’s postsecondary institutions, particularly those with broad-access missions, there is little likelihood that California will have the human capital to compete successfully in the global economy or assure its citizens access to economic prosperity and a middle-class life."

 

November 26, 2013

A four-hour Yale University lockdown that included a room-to-room residence hall search by police and SWAT teams ended safely Monday. Yale officials first told students there may be a threat to safety via text message at 10:17 a.m. after an anonymous male caller said his roommate was heading to campus with a gun and intent to shoot, police said. About a half-hour later, after callers reported seeing a gunman on campus, the lockdown began and students were told to shelter in place. A few minutes before 5 p.m., Yale reported via text message and Twitter that the lockdown had been fully lifted. By the end of the day, New Haven police were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the initial report, according to the Hartford Courant, saying the caller sounded "confused" and they were reviewing security footage to determine whether witnesses who corroborated the report might have spotted armed police rather than a gunman.

November 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ayalla Ruvio of Michigan State University explains the relationship between stress and compulsive shopping. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 26, 2013

The president of 2,700-student Sul Ross State University resigned, the Texas State University System announced Monday.

Ricardo Maestas had been president of Sul Ross since 2009 and has been reassigned as a special assistant to the system chancellor. No reason was given by the system for his resignation. Quint Thurman, the provost at Sul Ross, will be interim president while the system begins an immediate search for a new president.

The Texas Tribune reported that “parents and community members have continued to raise concerns about Maestas' leadership, particularly his lack of responsiveness to questions about the treatment of student athletes and financial management within the athletic department.” Last week, the news organization said, Maestas let go of the football coaching staff.

Sul Ross has a main campus in Alpine, a town in West Texas, and three satellite campuses collectively known as Rio Grande College.

November 26, 2013

A prominent black superior court judge has filed a complaint saying two University of California at Los Angeles police officers used excessive force after pulling him over for not wearing a seat belt, and that his race was a factor, The Los Angeles Times reported. David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, says in the complaint that when he exited the car to retrieve his paperwork from the trunk, officers shoved him against his car, handcuffed him, threw him into their backseat and told him he was being detained for resisting arrest. A UCLA police sergeant released Cunningham about 10 minutes later. The judge wants the officers removed from the field over the incident; UCLA said it is investigating the incident.

November 26, 2013

Law students at the University of Sydney are complaining that their dean was insulting when they complained that a disputed final examination would not be given a second time, ABC (the Australian company) reported. A fire alarm went off during the exam and students were evacuated, but then the exam resumed. Some students want a completely new exam and the dean has rejected that option as unfair to those who came prepared for the day the exam was scheduled. But students are now upset that the dean wrote a letter to the editor of the student paper suggesting that they needed to drop the issue. "Law students can be an anxious and competitive lot," wrote the dean, Joellen Riley. "They do worry dreadfully about exam marks.  A couple of years post-graduation and they will learn that the marks in any one exam are soon forgotten, and many skills other than mark-harvesting are more important to success in the profession (and in life)."

 

November 26, 2013

A former administrative employee admitted in federal court Monday that she stole more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges, The Washington Post reported. The woman was fired when the graft was discovered. Authorities said that she created bank accounts with names similar to those of groups with which the AAMC does business. She then created fake invoices for those entities, paid the funds to the accounts and had access to the money.

 

November 26, 2013

Mohammed Qayoumi, president of San Jose State University, has issued several statements in the last week denouncing the alleged harassment by white students of a black freshman who shared a dormitory suite with them. But on Monday, Qayoumi issued a new statement in which he took personal responsibility in saying that he and the university had failed to stop the harassment that is alleged to have gone on for months. "By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him. I failed him," said the statement. "How such abuse could have gone unchecked or undetected for weeks is being methodically untangled, as it must. An independent expert will soon be named to lead a task force that will examine the facts, our policies and practices, and propose reforms. Some anger is being directed toward residence hall advisers (RAs) for failing to recognize or act on warning signs of abuse. It is our job as professional educators to help them recognize these signs. Their failures are our failures. We must do a better job of training them, and we will."

November 25, 2013

Syracuse University became the second American university, after Brandeis University, to sever its ties with Al-Quds University after a Nov. 5 protest on the Palestinian campus in which demonstrators used the traditional Nazi salute and honored "martyred" suicide bombers. Saying that the university "does not condone hatred or intolerance in any way," Syracuse announced that it would suspend the relationship between Al-Quds and its Institute for National Security and Terrorism. Meanwhile, Bard College said that it would continue its partnership with Al-Quds, which includes a joint master of arts in teaching program and a liberal arts college.

In a statement, Bard said that immediately following the protest, Al-Quds contacted the college “and provided an unequivocal denunciation of that protest, a clear condemnation that has since been repeated publicly, as recently as yesterday, by the university’s president, Sari Nusseibeh. Suggestions that the university administration condoned the actions of a very small group of students within a university of 12,000 are simply inaccurate.”

“The incident and the ensuing controversy demonstrate that it is more important than ever to maintain our educational partnership with Al Quds," the college said.

In severing ties with Al-Quds, Brandeis cited not only the Nov. 5 protest but also the administration’s “unacceptable and inflammatory” response to it. In a statement, Al-Quds espoused values of equality and mutual respect but also criticized “vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists” who “spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University…. These occurrences allow some people to capitalize on events in ways that misrepresent the university as promoting inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies. Without these ideologies, there would not have been the massacre of the Jewish people in Europe; without the massacre, there would not have been the enduring Palestinian catastrophe.”
 

November 25, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Aaron Ellison of Harvard University’s Harvard Forest describes efforts to intervene before ecosystems pass their tipping points. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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