Higher Education Quick Takes
The editor in chief of The Kansas State Collegian has apologized for the paper running an op-ed questioning the presence of international students on the campus. "[E]ditors should have raised concerns about the content and style of the column," wrote Caroline Sweeney, the editor in chief. The original column said that Kansas and federal funds were being used to educate foreign students, many of them from countries that don't always agree with the United States. "I have nothing against citizens from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq or Turkey. I just truly believe that nearly $7 million of taxpayer money should not be spent to educate students who could, in the near future, become the enemy," wrote the student author of the piece, Sean Frye. The column outraged many international students and others at the university. The online version now features an apology from Frye, on top of the essay, in which he notes errors in his column. Among them, he didn't note that the university benefits financially from the international students, who pay much higher tuition rates than Kansans do. He also praised his resident adviser from last year, a Chinese student.
Lander College for Men, a college in Touro University that educates Orthodox Jews, is a place where students spend long days and nights studying Jewish texts. There is minimal time for television, and no viewing on Saturdays -- making Lander an unlikely place to produce football fans. But as Yahoo!Sports reported, Lander has adopted the University of Oregon Ducks as its football team. Herb Ratner, an assistant dean, went to graduate school at Oregon and has introduced his favorite team to Lander. Periodically there is a night game that students can watch, but primarily students learn of the outcome after Saturday game days, when Ratner posts the news, either as a win or "NW" for non-win (he doesn't like to refer to losses). "Guys will come up to me and say, 'Hey dean, how are the Ducks doing?' Guys who had never followed college football, let alone the Ducks, suddenly take a passing interest and we talk about the Ducks. So it's become a thing at the school."
The American Council on Education and other higher education groups on Friday wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services to urge the agency to move ahead with final rules on student health insurance coverage. The letter noted that it has been more than a year since the proposed rules were first issued. Friday's letter does not focus on the substance of the proposed rules, but on the impact of the delay in the final rules. "Many colleges and universities currently are negotiating contracts with insurers for their student health insurance coverage in the coming academic year," says the letter. "The final ... regulations will affect the terms and cost of such coverage. In some instances it appears insurers are using the uncertainty about the final contours of those regulations to their benefit, proposing increased premiums beyond what may be warranted under the final rules. In the absence of final regulations, it is difficult for schools to complete negotiations with their issuers." Further, the letter says that colleges are trying to determine financial aid packages for students for 2012-13 and changes in health insurance rules could affect various awards.
The National University of Singapore says it is willing to talk about human rights issues with Yale University, officials told Bloomberg after faculty members at Yale expressed concern about a collaboration between the two institutions. A new liberal arts college in Singapore, created with Yale, has prompted much discussion about how academic freedom can be assured in countries that do not have full freedoms as enjoyed in the United States. Last week at Yale, faculty members proposed a resolution calling for additional discussions on how the new campus will "respect, protect and further the ideals of civil liberties." A vote is expected next month. “It is understandable that for a pioneering initiative like the Yale-NUS College, there may be a diversity of views on different issues,” Lily Kong, vice president of university and global relations at the National University of Singapore, said in a statement. "We believe that this discussion should lead to an even higher level of mutual understanding and respect, ultimately making the college even more robust.”
Oregon's State Board of Higher Education voted Friday to ban guns from classrooms, buildings, dormitories and sporting and entertainment events, The Oregonian reported. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled last year that the board could not by administrative decree ban guns from the state system's campuses, but the ruling said that the board had authority to set rules for facilities and events. So the board acted within that power. The new rules do not apply to someone with a concealed weapon permit carrying a gun on a campus walkway, but would apply if that person entered a facility.
Barnard College announced Saturday that its commencement speaker this spring will be President Obama. Barnard had previously announced that Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, would speak, but the college said that, after the Obama possibility materialized, Abramson said that she would be happy to speak another time. Historically, presidents of the United States speak at commencements at three colleges -- one private college, one public college and one U.S. service academy.
Is Harvard University less expensive than public universities in California? A Bay Area News Group article explores the question, using a hypothetical family of four with $130,000 in family income. With Harvard's generous financial aid for middle class families, such a family would pay only $17,000 for a student to spend a year at Harvard. At Cal State, with much lower tuition rates, but much less aid, an in-state resident would pay about $24,000. Many students say these figures illustrate the flaws of California's policy of increasing tuition rates without sufficient financial aid.
Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate, is moderating his rhetoric in criticizing President Obama's call for all Americans to get at least one year of higher education. In several recent appearances, he called President Obama "a snob" for having that goal, and suggested that colleges are "indoctrination" units designed to make students liberal. A Fox News program Saturday indicated that the college-bashing may not be playing well. According to an account in The Los Angeles Times, an Ohio State University student told Santorum: "Your comments about Obama being a snob for wanting everyone to have the chance to go to college didn't really sit well with my campus." While not backing off his earlier statements, Santorum expressed support for everyone having the chance to go to college. Said Santorum: "His quote was, repeated often in the media, was that everybody should go to college. You see, there's something different than saying people should have the opportunity to go to college. That's fine. All my political career I've supported [that]. In fact, we do need a lot of people to go to college and get the education, and in some cases the training, that's necessary. But the idea that everybody should go to college -- again, it was this attitude: that we know better what's best for you."
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Sunday scheduled an emergency meeting for today to talk about growing criticism of Michael Hogan, president of the system, The Chicago Tribune reported. A spokesman said that no action is expected at the meeting, but that board members want to talk about "issues that have been reported in the paper lately." Last week, 130 endowed professors and department chairs at the university's flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign wrote to the board expressing a lack of confidence in Hogan. The president, brought in after an admissions scandal led to the departure of his predecessor, has been clashing with faculty members over his plans to centralize enrollment management. Further, his chief of staff resigned after being accused of sending anonymous e-mails seeking to influence faculty deliberations.