Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 23, 2013

Adam Ackley says he is in danger of losing his job as a professor of systematic theology at Azusa Pacific University for identifying himself as a man, and telling administrators that he is transgender, ABC 7 News reported. The Christian university had known him as a woman for the 15 years he has taught there. The university released this statement to ABC 7: "University leadership is engaged in thoughtful conversations with our faculty member in order to honor the contribution and treat all parties with dignity and respect while upholding the values of the university. It is an ongoing conversation, and therefore, a confidential matter."

Students have organized a petition that says the treatment of Ackley has raised concerns for many others. "Adam Ackley, a beloved theology professor of 15 years, was 'asked to step down' from his position as a professor at Azusa Pacific University due to his recent openness about his identity as a transgender man," the petition says. "This event has sparked fear and anger within the LGBTQ and Ally community of APU. We stand in solidarity with Adam, and strive to create a safer environment for students and faculty who have been marginalized by APU's conservative policies, as well as those who have been victims of spiritual violence on campus."

 

September 23, 2013

Harvard University on Saturday announced the launch of a $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign, the largest ever in higher education. To date, the university has raised $2.8 billion in the "quiet phase" of the drive. Stanford University completed a $6.2 billion campaign last year and the University of Southern California is in the midst of a $6 billion effort.

September 23, 2013

The University of Alabama at Tusaloosa announced Friday that four black women and two other minority women will be joining the university's all-white sororities. The university has been engaged in an intense debate (and been subject to national criticism) following an article in the student newspaper about how black women have been rejected by the sororities -- sometimes at the behest of alumnae. The university first announced that sororities had agreed to a new system in which they could extend "bid" offers at any time of year, not just during the traditional rush period.

The university on Friday posted a video by President Judy Bonner in which she said that sororities had extended 72 of these new non-rush bids in the last week, with 11 bids going to black women and 3 to other minority women. In addition to the six minority bids that have been accepted, she said, others were being considered and might yet be accepted. She added that some sororities "are farther along than others" in desegregating.

 

September 23, 2013

Supporters of Cheyney University, a public historically black college in Pennsylvania, will announce today that they plan to sue the state unless certain conditions are met. The supporters argue that the state has failed to meet its obligations to support and enhance Cheyey. Specifically, they say that the state needs to revise its funding formula to focus less on enrollment because Cheyney's relatively low enrollment has led it to raise tuition, which in turn has made it difficult to recruit more students. Further, the group will demand that the university be protected from austerity measures currently being imposed in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, of which Cheyney is a part.

 

September 23, 2013

Rutgers University has rewritten parts of its alma mater, "On the Banks of the Old Raritan," to make it gender-neutral, The Star-Ledger reported. The alma mater -- 140 years old -- used to begin with "My father sent me to old Rutgers / And resolv'd that I should be a man." Those lines have been replaced with "From far and near we came to Rutgers/ And resolved to learn all that we can."

September 23, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeremy Jamieson of the University of Rochester explains why stress can be useful for performers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 23, 2013

Like many colleges and universities with faculty/staff newspapers or websites, Iowa Now at the University of Iowa publishes periodic articles by faculty members. A recent piece, however, which questioned the validity of evolution, has angered many Iowa professors. The controversial piece -- by Ned Bowden, an associate professor of chemistry -- was about the conflict between science and religion, and argued that there need not be such a conflict. In making his case, Bowden wrote: "It's remarkably consistent how evolution and Genesis look at the process and tell the same stories using different words. Science can never prove or disprove God, but science can provide support for the existence of God and that is what the Big Bang and evolution can give us. There are, of course, holes in the theory of evolution that are big enough to drive a semi-truck through, but it is highly possible that evolution was the tool that God used to bring humans into being."

Twenty-five faculty members responded with their own piece. They said faculty members were entitled to their own views. But they questioned why the university would publish a piece that suggests evolution isn't a settled view in science. They wrote that just as today no scientists dispute that the Earth revolves around the Sun, "we no longer debate the central principles of evolutionary theory as a scientific framework for understanding Earth's diversity." Further, the faculty members said, "Iowa Now, by publishing a piece that suggests otherwise, has done a disservice to the university."

A spokesman for the university said via e-mail that, "as a public university, we welcome a diversity of views and encourage robust and civil dialogue. Iowa Now is one place where that takes place. The views of the writer ... are his or her own and not necessarily those of Iowa Now or the University of Iowa."

September 20, 2013

The U.S. Education Department fined Dominican College in New York $200,000 for failing to comply with federal crime reporting mandates under the Clery Act. According to the settlement agreement, the college failed to “properly define its campus and report crime statistics for non-campus property; distribute the Annual Security Report (ASR) as required by the Clery Act; include required policy statements in the ASR; and maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log.”

(Note: The above paragraph has been updated from an earlier version to correct the fine amount.)

A Dominican spokeswoman, Erin DeWard, said the fine stems from a 2009 mistake in which officials listed incorrect crime statistics in the student handbook. Rather than updating the material to reflect the most recent numbers, Dominican re-printed old statistics from a year prior. In 2009, the college was ordered to pay $20,000 to the state of New York and make reforms to its crime reporting system, after an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that the handbook misstated crime statistics over the course of several years.

September 20, 2013

The American Public University System, which consists of the Charles Town, W.Va.-based American Public University and American Military University, announced on Thursday it will allow its students to earn academic credit by taking massive open online courses. The 10 science, technology and mathematics courses -- five each from MOOC providers Coursera and Udacity -- have received credit recommendations from the American Council on Education. In a statement, the university said it may expand its offerings and incorporate more MOOC providers in the future.

September 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Emma Versteegh of the University of Reading explains how earthworms create a chalky record of the climate. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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