A drag show planned for tonight at the University of San Diego has prompted debate at the Roman Catholic institution. Alumni who are angry about the drag show have created a website called Alumni for a Catholic USD protesting "the promotion of values that are directly contrary to our Catholic faith and traditions." Some are threatening to stop donating to the university. Thousands have signed a petition against the event. Mary Lyons, the president of the university, has defended the right of campus groups to put on the show. And now a new alumni group has been formed to support the university's leaders for not barring the drag show. A USD for Everyone's website says: "Many of us are alums who have worked together at USD to ensure that our alma mater was an inclusive community. Our jobs didn’t end as students. As alums, we have the responsibility to ensure USD remains a place for everyone."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students at Guilford College are pushing for a fee increase ($100 over two years) at a time when many college students are objecting to such increases. The News-Record reported that students want the increase to increase the student aid budget. The move comes as Guilford (along with other private colleges in North Carolina) face a loss of state funds for aid for North Carolina students. The college's board will vote on the proposal in June. Kent Chabotar, president of the college, said that he was surprised by the proposal. "The last thing you’d think would be that they’d want to increase the fees even more on their own authority." But he added that push to help fellow students was "a classic Guilford move."
The National Labor College, facing financial difficulties, has decided to sell its entire campus (located in the Washington suburbs), but officials insist that the institution has a viable future. The college -- the academic arm of the labor movement -- offers degree and certificate programs for leaders and future leaders of unions. Most programs are distance, but involve residencies, which have taken place on the campus. Paula Peinovich, the president, said in an interview that the decision was a "very hard" one. "The sale of the property is not something that the board of the college has chosen to do lightly," she added. "But faced with financial issues, the board is going to focus on the college." She said that the property will need to be rezoned to be sold to a developer, and that the process means that the college isn't relocating immediately. Eventually, she said that the residency portions of the college's programs would take place at union facilities or academic centers around the country.
The campus also includes a conference center, which will be sold, and the AFL-CIO archives, which are used by scholars of labor history. Peinovich said that the AFL-CIO owns the archives, and that the college is in discussion with the AFL-CIO about where the collections will go.
The National Labor College had thought it would gain a secure financial partnership through a partnership with the Princeton Review (a partnership some in academic labor questioned because of the concerns of many faculty members in the union movement about for-profit higher education). But the Princeton Review pulled out of that partnership in November.
State spending on higher education increased by $10.5 billion in absolute terms from 1990 to 2010, but considering changes in enrollments and inflation, funding per public full-time equivalent student dropped by 26.1 percent from 1990-1991 to 2009-2010, according to a report released Monday by the think tank Demos. During the same period, the report documents, tuition at public institution has seen large increases in many states. While many of those states have also increased aid budgets, a large share of those funds has gone to programs that are not based on financial need. The report notes that household income has not generally increased to match the tuition increases, and that the volume of outstanding student debt has grown by a factor of 4.5 since 1999.
- Elizabeth Ambos, assistant vice chancellor for research at the California State University System, has been selected as executive officer of the Council on Undergraduate Research, in Washington, D.C.
- Thomas Chiles, a professor of biology at Boston College, has been named the Dr. Michael E. and Dr. Salvatore A. DeLuca professor of biology there.
- Brian P. Darmody, associate vice president of research and economic development at the University of Maryland at College Park, has been given the additional title of director of corporate relations.
- Sandra Lagana, head women’s soccer coach and assistant sports information director at Ferrum College, in Virginia, has been appointed as head women’s soccer coach at McDaniel College, in Maryland.
- Tim Regan-Porter, president and CEO of Paste Media Group, has been chosen as director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University, in Georgia.
Just a week after its women’s basketball players were crowned at the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, Baylor University could be bracing for bad news from the NCAA. ESPN.com reported Monday that an investigation has found more than 1,200 instances of impermissible recruiting contacts on the part of Baylor’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches. The university has reportedly already self-imposed a number of sanctions, including scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations for both teams. The NCAA could impose additional sanctions when its infractions report is made public as early as this week, ESPN wrote.
Over a 29-month period, Baylor’s basketball programs reportedly sent recruits 738 impermissible text messages and made 528 impermissible phone calls, most of which came from the men’s staff in 2007 and 2008. But the investigation also uncovered 405 impermissible calls and texts made across nine different sports during 2011. Both the university and its men's basketball coach, Scott Drew, face major violations charges of "failure to monitor" the sports programs, ESPN wrote.
Baylor's men's basketball team made it to the championship quarterfinals this year, and its football team boasted the Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Monday that the association “can’t get into details” regarding the case because it is still under review. “However,” he continued, “each member agrees to abide by the rules established by the association and our membership expects those who do not follow the rules will be held accountable.”
Gay students and gay issues have become unusually visible at Brigham Young University, an institutions that bars students from sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that gay students last week released a video in the "It Gets Better" series talking about being gay at the university. Also last week, estimates are that up to 600 students attended a meeting in a room with seating for 260 to hear four students talk about balancing their gay identities with life at the university, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "We’re trying to live it and create new spaces for us to be gay and Mormon and be active in the church," said Adam White, who was on the the panel and appeared in the YouTube video. The university says that gay students do not face punishments from the university as long as they don't have physical intimacy with members of the same sex.
A lengthy Bloomberg article outlines a series of incidents that have alarmed security officials and some university leaders who fear that some countries are attempting to use American universities' foreign connections for the purpose of spying. The article notes numerous incidents, including an American researcher who was invited to give a talk abroad. Then someone there asked for a copy of her paper, inserted a thumb drive into her laptop, and downloaded every document she had. In another instance, Michigan State University was approached by a Dubai-based company about providing funds and students for the university's Dubai campus, which was struggling financially. Lou Anna K. Simon, president at Michigan State, contacted the Central Intelligence Agency because she was afraid the company might be a front for Iran. When the CIA couldn't confirm the company's legitimacy, Simon passed on the deal and shut down the Dubai campus.
The article also quoted from a 2011 Pentagon report that said that attempts by East Asian countries to obtain classified or proprietary information through "academic solicitation" (requesting to see academic papers or discuss work with professors), jumped eightfold in 2010.