Higher Education Quick Takes
Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, has dropped a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Ginger Hansen, vice president of enrollment management and communications at the college, explained the shift in an e-mail: "Our decision to go test optional is largely based on our institutional philosophy of giving all students, regardless of a singular standardized test score, an opportunity."
A faculty member at Brevard Community College has requested and been granted an unpaid leave after she was alleged to have used class time to urge students to vote for President Obama and handed out campaign material on behalf of the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates for office, Florida Today reported. Sharon Sweet, the faculty member, did not respond to requests for comment. College officials said that a parent of a student complained reported the allegations, setting off an investigation. "We are a nonpartisan, public institution,” a spokesman for the college said. "It is very important that all of our faculty and staff act in that manner at work and while they’re on campus."
The economy's impact on giving to higher education isn't always what one might expect, according to a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Using a national sample of colleges and universities, the study found a positive correlation between average income and house values in a state and donations by the people who live in that state. However, the study also found an increase in donations -- especially for operating budgets -- when a university suffers a "negative endowment shock." The latter finding appears correlated to increased efforts by fund-raisers during such periods, and suggests that donors respond to such efforts. The study finds that these donations may be a form of "insurance" against endowment declines.
California State University is planning to send letters to hundreds of thousands of applicants to the system's campuses, warning them that if voters in November defeat the governor's proposal to raise taxes, far fewer slots will be available, The Los Angeles Times reported. To drive home the point, Cal State has decided not to make admissions decisions until after Election Day. Typically, the university system starts admitting students in October. Anti-tax advocates are accusing the university of inappropriately campaigning for the governor's plan. But a spokeswoman for Cal State said that "we are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget."
WitsOn (for Women in Technology Sharing Online) will start October 1 as a six-week effort to encourage female undergraduates pursing science and technology degrees. The program will match students who sign up with a mentor for six weeks of online discussions, with the aim of encouraging these students to then find in-person mentors. The program is organized by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza (a social learning platform). While a number of colleges and universities have signed on as institutional participants (meaning they will publicize the effort) students at any college can join.
Three campuses -- the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University and Hiram College -- received bomb threats Friday that were taken seriously enough to lead to mass evacuations, the Associated Press reported. But in all three cases, the threats appeared to be false and students and employees were permitted to return to the campuses.
Cornell University announced Friday that it is severing business ties with Adidas, finding that the company does not live up to what the university considers minimal acceptable standards for treating its workers. Cornell's statement specifically referenced the company's failure to pay severance to workers at a factory that was closed in Indonesia in 2010. If Adidas should change its policies, Cornell would welcome the chance to resume work with the company. Adidas officials did not respond to a request for comment. Cornell's royalties from the company have been modest in recent years, $1,000 to $2,000, according to a spokesman.
Close to 1,000 people held a rally at Pennsylvania State University Saturday to call on the institution's Board of Trustees to resign, The Centre Daily Times reported. Attendees were angry that the board fired Joe Paterno as head football coach last year and subsequently largely accepted the analysis of an investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal that, among other things, was critical of Paterno (who died before the inquiry concluded). Franco Harris, a college and professional football star (who played at Penn State under Paterno), referred to the night the board fired the coach this way: "It only took one night, just one night for the BOT to lay a path of destruction never before seen on any college campus."
The National Labor Relations Board, in a 2-to-1 vote, on Friday ordered the counting of ballots in a vote by adjuncts at Duquesne University on whether to unionize. The ballots have been impounded, uncounted, pending consideration of the board of an appeal by Duquesne, which argued that its adjuncts should not be permitted to unionize because the institution is Roman Catholic and a union might infringe on the institution's religious freedom. But the board order said that it made sense to count the ballots because, if the union bid is defeated, there would be no reason to consider the appeal. The decision said that Duquesne's appeal could proceed should the votes favor a union. The effort to unionize was organized with United Steelworkers.
The board of Brown University's Athletic Hall of Fame has decided not to remove Joe Paterno, the late football coach at Pennsylvania State University, from his place of honor. "Paterno, a member of the Class of 1950 (A.B., English, magna cum laude), was inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 18, 1978. His election to the Hall of Fame recognized Paterno’s outstanding career as a player at Brown, quarterbacking the celebrated varsity football team of 1949, and his contributions to college sports," said a statement from the board. "In choosing not to remove Paterno from the list of Brown’s Hall of Fame athletes, the Board of Directors did not intend to diminish the tragic events that occurred at Penn State toward the end of Coach Paterno’s career. It sought, rather, to acknowledge the recognition of the achievements for which it elected Paterno to the Hall of Fame nearly 35 years ago."