Higher Education Quick Takes
Faculty members and students this week held a protest at Coppin State University, objecting to what they say are 25 layoffs or non-renewals of staff members this year, The Baltimore Sun reported. Leaders of the protest said that they never were told why layoffs were needed, and are concerned about the elimination of positions at a time that President Reginald Avery has been adding slots to his cabinet. Avery and other university officials declined to comment on the protests.
Steve Garban, former chair of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees, has resigned from his trustee position, the Associated Press reported. Garban has been criticized for twice failing to share with the full board information about the investigations into Jerry Sandusky, and many have called for him to resign.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday killed a major contract that had been criticized as a conflict of interest, The Chicago Tribune reported. The contract was to an architectural firm partly owned by the husband of the administrator who oversees campus construction planning. Christopher Kennedy, chair of the Illinois board, said, "We don't want any more ethical issues associated with the university. We get public money and we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
Nearly one quarter of first-year female college students try smoking tobacco with a hookah for the first time during their freshman year, according to new research in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The researchers who did the study said that they worried that many of those attracted to the hookah (or water pipe) may be unaware that many of the dangers associated with cigarette smoking are also associated with smoking tobacco with a hookah.
The Aspen Institute today published a data set tracking the performance of 120 community colleges it picked as finalists for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The metrics are unique, according to the institute, and measure colleges on student retention, degrees awarded, graduation and transfer rates, and minority and low-income student success. The institute hopes the data can be used to better learn what works best in the sector.
The National Labor Relations Board has found that Columbia College Chicago violated federal laws by refusing to bargain with the part-time faculty union at the college and hand over information requested by them. In a ruling Tuesday, Robert Ringler, an administrative law judge, ordered the college to bargain in good faith with the union and to provide back pay to part-time faculty members in the department of humanities, history & social sciences affected by a 2010 decision to reschedule classes. The Part-Time Faculty Association at the college, also known as P-fac, is affiliated with the National Education Association. Diana Vallera, P-fac’s president, called the decision a victory for part-time faculty members. “In this case, Judge Ringler has ruled that Columbia College not only mistreated its faculty but also violated federal labor law,” she said.
Mountain State University, stripped of accreditation by its regional agency, has decided not to enroll any new students in the fall, institution officials said in a document explaining the situation to students. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools said this month that it would end the West Virginia private college's accreditation, citing serious financial and management troubles. Most colleges have great difficulty operating without accreditation, which opens the door to students' receiving federal financial aid, and Mountain State officials have until Monday to appeal, which they have said they would do.
University officials have been working with students to help them explore options should they choose to leave Mountain State. In addition to not enrolling any new students, the university said, "new students who have already signed up for classes in the fall will be dropped from their classes."
On many campuses, the administrator's career path might go from being a dean to becoming provost. Stanford University on Wednesday announced for the second time in two years that it was filling a dean's job with a provost. Last year, Stanford named Claude Steele (then provost at Columbia University) to become education dean. On Wednesday, Stanford named Lloyd B. Minor (provost at Johns Hopkins University) as its next medical school dean.
The University of Louisville law school planned to offer $550,000 in aid to the students enrolling in the fall, but ended up offering $1.3 million -- creating a $2.4 million deficit over the next three years since the aid packages were for a full law school education, The Courier-Journal reported. The university will fulfill the aid promises, and will cut aid next year if money cannot be raised for the pledges made to new students. The law school's admissions director resigned on Monday.