Higher Education Quick Takes
The Los Angeles Community College District has fired a third contractor used in its controversial multi-billion dollar construction campaign, The Los Angeles Times reported. The dismissals follow a series of articles in the Times about delays, flaws and cost over-runs in the construction program. The latest contractor to be fired was involved in a $123 million budget shortfall that led to the abandonment of plans for four building projects.
As more and more colleges provide gender-neutral dorms and bathrooms, Grinnell College has become one of the few to include a locker room in its offerings. A handful of other colleges, such as the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington State University, have similar facilities available for transgender students, those with families or others who prefer a gender-neutral option. Several other institutions, including the Universities of Cincinnati and Massachusetts at Amherst, have built private, single-use changing rooms, while others have promised to do so when any new facilities are built. Still, Grinnell’s decision is generating buzz – and not all of it is positive.
A faculty strike has ended at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. While faculty union leaders did not release full details of the status of negotiations, they said that they had made significant progress that they said would protect faculty rights, including tenure.
Authorities have Leonard Tyrell Young, until recently a member of the basketball team at Fresno Pacific University, on a range of charges after he allegedly went on a rampage Monday night, in which he is said to have run through a convenience store parking lot, tried to steal a police car, and beat a police officer and a police dog -- all while naked, The Fresno Bee reported. Young was reportedly told that he was being dismissed from the basketball team shortly before the incidents started.
At East Carolina University meanwhile, students are debating the actions of the student newspaper, The East Carolinian, which published a full frontal photograph of a man who streaked during a football game between East Carolina and the University of Southern Mississippi. WITN News reported on the concerns of many students who didn't appreciate the image. Gawker, meanwhile, noted that when streaking across a football field, it is generally not wise to fall down.
Universities in Kenya have largely been shut down by faculty strikes, The Daily Nation reported. At some universities, the strikes are disrupting final exams and/or graduation ceremonies.
Adults aged 18 to 34 are overwhelmingly concerned about the cost of college and levels of student debt, regardless of whether they attended college, and oppose cuts to federal student aid programs, according to survey results announced Wednesday by the Institute for College Access and Success, Young Invincibles and Demos: Ideas and Action, three advocacy groups. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents believe college students graduate with too much debt, while only 21 percent described the average debt as "manageable."
Respondents also said they oppose cutting back on federal student aid programs, including Pell Grants and the in-school interest subsidy for low-income borrowers. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independent voters said they opposed cutting Pell Grants: 75 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Republicans who were given a short description of the grants said they opposed cuts for deficit reduction. They disagreed at similar rates with a proposal to cut the in-school interest subsidy for some student loans.
The survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners (a primarily Democratic polling firm) and Bellwether Research and Consulting (which describes itself as "center-right").
The suicides of two undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall have shaken the university and prompted a review of all aspects of student life and student services, The Boston Globe reported. While MIT has had suicides before, these two have been particularly upsetting to many on the campus because of the youth of the students, both of whom were 18.
Mark David Milliron, who recently announced his resignation from a high-profile position with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been named chancellor of Western Governors University Texas. Milliron was deputy director for postsecondary improvement at Gates. He is among several foundation officials who worked on higher education to depart in recent months. WGU Texas is an online, nonprofit university that was created in August in partnership with the state's government. A former president and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, Milliron was a member of WGU's Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2010.
Some of the students, faculty members and alumni outraged that Cooper Union is considering plans that would end its policy of free tuition are turning their attention to the institution's finances, The New York Times reported. Cooper Union officials have cited a deteriorating financial position to justify the possibility of charging tuition, and many of those close to the institution say that they should have learned of fiscal difficulties earlier. Many are now calling for an inquiry into the roots of the financial problems.