Higher Education Quick Takes
Sri Lanka's government has shut down almost all of the nation's universities, BBC reported. Faculty members have been on strike at the university, and government officials blamed the professors for turmoil on campuses, saying that they were giving students "darkness, without any hope." Academics say that they have been on strike and protesting over government plans to privatize some of higher education, and over political interference in campus decisions.
A former professor at Richard J. Daley College was indicted Wednesday on charges of theft from the government over allegations that she falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree to be paid extra money, The Chicago Tribune reported. Authorities say that Carol Howley was overpaid by $307,000 by the City Colleges of Chicago as a result of her fake degree. She claimed to have earned the degree at Rush University, but officials there said that she never enrolled. Howley could not be reached for comment. The college fired her in 2011.
Republican delegates have drafted a preliminary version of the immigration plank in the platform for the party's national convention that would deny federal funding to colleges and universities that allow illegal immigrants to enroll as in-state students, according to The New York Times. The plank reportedly takes a hard line on immigration generally. Delegates will consider the full platform for approval at next week's convention in Tampa, Fla.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that students with concealed carry permits could bring handguns to university classrooms. But this week, Jerry Peterson, a professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said he would cancel classes if he found that someone had brought a firearm to class, according to the Daily Camera.
Although Peterson said he was only speaking for himself, Philip P. DiStefano, the chancellor at UC-Boulder, sent out an e-mail Tuesday to faculty members that they could not shut down a class if a student with a concealed carry permit brought a gun. “Such actions discriminate not only against the concealed carry permit holder – who is exercising a basic right granted under Colorado law – they deprive all other students of the education they have paid for and have a right to,” DiStefano said in his email.
The dean of business at Hampton University has since 2001 banned male students in the five-year undergraduate/M.B.A. program from wearing dreadlocks or cornrows, WVEC 13 News reported. Some students at the historically black college have criticized the rule, but Dean Sid Credle said he believes that the ban on some hairstyles has helped students get good jobs. He also rejected the idea that the styles being banned were a part of black culture. "When was it that cornrows and dreadlocks were a part of African American history?" he asked. "I mean Charles Drew didn't wear it, Muhammad Ali didn't wear it. Martin Luther King didn't wear it."
Morris Brown College, a historically black college that lost accreditation in 2003 and that has struggled to stay alive since, may be on the verge of collapse due to a foreclosure scheduled for early next month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The college has millions in debts and only 50 students. (Its enrollment was once 3,000.) The college is planning a prayer vigil for Saturday, hoping for a plan to move forward.
Colleges in the Golden State would be prohibited from requesting access to students’ social media accounts under legislation passed Tuesday by the California Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill, SB 1349, into law. Similar legislation passed in Delaware last month, and another bill passed the Maryland Senate but ultimately stalled. Colleges including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Louisville have come under criticism recently for monitoring athletes’ social media activities (with the students’ knowledge) by demanding access to their accounts, requiring them to “friend” athletics department employees on Facebook, and using software to monitor who publishes words such as “drunk driving” and “drugs.” Some of the bills, including the one in California, have been counterparts to legislation prohibiting employers from regulating employees’ social media use.
The families of the donors who gave Columbia University $400,000 in 1927 to build Casa Italiana are suing the university, arguing that it has ignored the intent of the gift, Bloomberg reported. The purpose was to create a center for study of the Italian language and culture, the suit argues. Instead, the university has placed a research center there that, though focused on Italy, runs many programs that are "elitist and detached, European and international." Further, the suit charges that some of the programs play on Italian-American stereotypes. One such program identified in the complaint was called "What’ya mean I’m funny? Ball-busting Humor and Italian American Masculinities," A Columbia spokesman said that the university does not comment on litigation.