Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Southern Mississippi is facing tens of millions of dollars in repair costs due to Sunday's tornado, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The tornado struck several campus buildings, and state officials met Wednesday to discuss the repair process. The university will resume classes today, but 87 class sections will be held in temporary locations.
Westboro Baptist Church, known for turning up at locations nationwide for anti-gay protests, has announced plans to rally at Vassar College (or as Westboro calls it "Ivy League Whorehouse Vassar College") later this month. The church plans a 45-minute protest against Vassar, which it calls a "filthy institution ... wholly given over to the fag agenda." Jon Chenette, acting president at Vassar, sent a campuswide letter inviting students and faculty members to respond to the inflammatory statements in ways that would "celebrate the inclusiveness of our community and the multitude of backgrounds, interests, and preferences that enrich our experiences." Some students and alumni created an online fund-raiser for the Trevor Project, which provides counseling for young gay people who may be facing crises or thinking of suicide. The initial goal was to raise $4,500 -- or $100 for each minute that Westboro plans to be at Vassar. So far, contributions have topped $47,000.
It's not unheard of for professors to question the value of undergraduate education in business. It's more rare if you teach in -- let alone lead -- an undergraduate program in business, but that's what has happened at Tel Aviv University. Haaretz reported that Shmuel Ellis, chair of the undergraduate Department of Management, recently sent out an e-mail telling those who are undecided about their major not to pick business. He suggested they consider fields in the humanities, social sciences or biological sciences. "Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs," he said.
The comments have angered some students studying business. Adding to the anger is that Ellis was defending comments from Moshe Zviran, vice dean of the graduate business program, who recently questioned the value of undergraduate education in business. Zviran said that business study only makes sense at the graduate level. "Business administration is an excellent degree but needs to be studied at the appropriate time," he said.
The Georgia Board of Regents on Wednesday approved plans for Kennesaw State University to start football, likely in 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The plan approved by the board concerned financing for the football program and also additional sports to meet gender-equity requirements. Students voted for a fee increase of $100 per semester, to begin in the fall, to help pay for the program.
New research published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies suggests helicopter parents may be doing harm to their children's mental health, Reuters reported. Holly Schiffrin from the University of Mary Washington conducted surveys with undergraduates and found that those with excessively involved parents were more likely than others to be depressed or dissatisfied with life. Schiffrin said that the high degree of parental meddling appeared to interfere with the ability of offspring to feel autonomous and competent.
Saying that student borrowers have been left out of the "refinancing boom" that has resulted from low interest rates, Campus Progress, a branch of the Center for American Progress called for a federal program allowing refinancing for student loans — including private student loans — at a lower rate. Unsubsidized undergraduate loans, and all graduate loans, currently have a 6.8 percent interest rate. (The interest rate for federally subsidized student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1.) "Reduced student loan costs boost the likelihood of repayment while also stimulating the economy by freeing up income that can be used and spent in other sectors of the economy," the group wrote.
Students at Oberlin College and residents of Oberlin, Ohio gathered Wednesday to discuss a "no trespass" list maintained by the college, The Plain Dealer reported. Those on the list are effectively banned from campus. Critics focused on problems created because people are not informed that they are on the list, or given a chance to demonstrate that they shouldn't be on the list. An Oberlin security officer attended the meeting, but did not comment on the criticisms.
Changes in Pell Grant eligibility rules likely contributed to enrollment declines last year at two-thirds of the community colleges in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to new research from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. The three Southern states all enroll large numbers of students who hail from rural and low-income areas, but also lack large, state-based financial aid programs. That makes students in the region particularly sensitive to last year's tightening of Pell eligibility by the U.S. Congress, according to the report.