Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 1, 2014

The University of Illinois at Chicago is at risk of losing $4.5 million if the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign rehires James Kilgore as an adjunct, The Chicago Tribune reported. Kilgore has a strong record as an adjunct but was dropped from teaching last year amid reports about his criminal past with the Symbionese Liberation Army. While Kilgore was open abut that history when he was hired, some questioned his suitability to teach, while many faculty groups said that he should be judged on his performance as an adjunct, not his past. The Illinois board last month cleared the way for Kilgore to be rehired, and the Tribune reported that departments are in fact starting the process to employ him.

But the Tribune reported that Richard Hill, a Chicago businessman who last year pledged $6.5 million to the Illinois-Chicago bioengineering department, has informed the university that if it proceeds with Kilgore's rehiring, he will not give the $4.5 million that remains on his pledge.  "I no longer wish to be associated with University of Illinois," he wrote to the university. "The academy at the University of Illinois has clearly lost its moral compass." In an email to the Tribune explaining his views, he said, "I will not contribute neither time nor money to such a morally debased enterprise.... If they stand up and police their own organization to assure they are of the highest standards, I will stand with them till my dying days."

December 1, 2014

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Wednesday asked Bill Cosby to stop down as honorary co-chair of the institution's fund-raising campaign, and he agreed, The Boston Globe reported. Cosby, who received master's and doctoral degrees in education from UMass, has been a major donor in the past (photo at right shows him at a UMass event). Many colleges have been forced to rethink their ties to him as numerous women have come forward to say that he drugged them and forced them to have sex with him. He has denied the charges.

Temple University, where Cosby serves as a trustee, is facing increased criticism for not severing ties to him. An online petition from an alumnus states: "It's time for Temple to recognize that continuing its relationship with Bill Cosby is damaging to its own reputation, as well as its students, employees and alumni. It's time for Temple University to sever its ties with this man. Temple should not be the last organization to end its relationship with Bill Cosby -- it should have happened in 2005 when the allegations against him first began to surface."

December 1, 2014

A car accident on Thursday killed Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education, who was traveling to a Thanksgiving gathering. Since joining ACE in 2007, Meloy has played a key role in mapping legal strategy for higher education on a wide range of issues. Previously, she was deputy general counsel of New York University.

Molly Broad, ACE president, issued a statement: "There are no adequate words to describe the emotions that accompany this devastating news about our trusted colleague and dear friend. Ada has been a passionate and tireless advocate for students, faculty, presidents and chancellors, and the entire higher education community. Since her arrival at ACE in 2007, Ada has made many important contributions to the higher education landscape, from her work on behalf of student access to her efforts to ensure that colleges and universities maintain their ability to construct diverse campuses. Her legal portfolio spanned a wide range of other issues, from academic freedom and campus safety to copyright and patent laws to university governance."


December 1, 2014

In the wake of last week's decision by the grand jury in Missouri not to issue an indictment for the shooting of Michael Brown, Howard University students were involved in several protests. While Howard officials praised the activism, President Wayne A.I. Frederick issued a statement taking issue with whoever put up a Pan-African flag on the university's flagpole. "While I openly support freedom of expression on our campus, I do not support unauthorized use of University property or official platforms to transmit these expressions of thought and ideas. The flag was removed. Our flagpole is reserved for the American and official Howard University flags," Frederick wrote. "The events in Ferguson, Mo., have resulted in the loss of a young African-American's life. That remains the primary concern of the Howard University community. The social construct that exists in our country, which has led to this loss, is one that fortifies why Howard University exists. The core values of our University include truth, service, justice and freedom, which are the same values embodied in the American flag. Howard University must and will lead in finding solutions through our research and scholarship that contributes to our Nation's betterment."

Comments about the statement on the university's Facebook page were mixed -- with some praising the president, others saying that his statement was pragmatic (in light of how the flag protest would look to potential funders), and others saying he shouldn't have objected to using the flagpole for the Ferguson protests.



December 1, 2014

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is poised to shut down its football program this week, Sports Illustrated reported. The magazine, citing unidentifid sources, said the university plans to fire its athletics director and announce that it is discontinuing its football team, which qualified for a bowl game Saturday for the first time in a decade. The decision on football comes as UAB is developing a university-wide strategic plan.

December 1, 2014

All Greek social functions at San Diego State University have been indefinitely suspended and all members of campus fraternities and sororities will undergo sexual assault prevention training, the university's Greek leadership groups announced Tuesday.

The decision came after several fraternity members interrupted a "Take Back the Night" march -- in which survivors and advocates raise awareness about sexual violence -- by yelling obscenities, waving sex toys, and throwing eggs at marchers, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. With the party ban, San Diego State joins a growing number of colleges that have suspended Greek social functions this semester, including Clemson University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia and West Virginia University.

December 1, 2014

Simmons College has urged Massachusetts authorities to prosecute a former employee for fraud, saying that she was found to have been "misappropriating School of Management student fees and other monies for her own use." The employee was terminated during the summer, according to a statement from President Helen Drinan. Another statement, from Dean Cathy Minehan of the School of Management announced various steps to promote financial accountability and said that the reorganization "will not include a role for an associate dean for administration and program management" and that the current holder of that position, Mary Dutkiewicz, would be leaving immediately. Dutkiewicz's departure, meanwhile, has angered many students and alumni, some of whom have organized an online petition that calls her "the heart and backbone of Simmons School of Management."

December 1, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is starting to impose its views on universities in the regions it controls, Al-Fanar reported. Women and men may no longer be educated together, and instruction may only be provided by professors of the same gender as students. Courses involving study of democracy, non-Islamic societies and human rights have been canceled. Professors, speaking anonymously, expressed fear for the future. “The university is a real horror,” said a literature professor. “I do not think there will be learning."


December 1, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Alfred Crosby, a professor of polymer science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, discusses his work to create a super-sticky adhesive modeled after the feet of a gecko. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


November 26, 2014

Spelman College, which has found itself receiving questions about its ties to Bill Cosby, on Tuesday released a statement that noted that its ties are to Cosby and other family members, not just to the comedian who has found himself accused of drugging women and forcing them to have sex (charges he has denied). Spelman has to date not commented on whether it will seek to distance itself from Cosby, and didn't comment for an Inside Higher Ed article about a number of colleges with Cosby ties. But while that article simply noted the no comment, other websites have suggested Spelman was backing Cosby (although there have been not quotations to that effect). TMZ, for example, ran an article called "Bill Cosby-Spelman College -- We Still Have Your Back."

In Tuesday's statement, President Beverly Daniel Tatum reviewed the Cosby gifts to the college, noting that they were from Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby, his wife, and that the Cosby building on campus is named for her, not him. She writes that "at this time there are no discussions regarding changes to the terms of the gift."

"While I cannot control how media outlets position information, and more than one has distorted our statement, I think it is important that all of you have the facts," Tatum writes. "Two Cosby daughters attended Spelman College. Our building is named after Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby. The endowed professorship is named after both Cosby parents. The historic $20 million gift that the college received in 1988, more than 25 years ago, came from the Cosby family.  Though it is not appropriate for the College to comment publicly on specific allegations against any individual, sexual assault is a profoundly serious issue for any educational institution.  Please know that we do not condone sexual violence in any form and understand our critical role as a women’s college to lead in the fight against it.  I trust you will read all news media critically, informed by these facts."



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