Higher Education Quick Takes
In April, Andrew Leuchter, the chair of the Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that David Shorter, associate professor in the department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, had inappropriately linked from the website for his course, "Tribal Worldviews," to a website promoting a boycott of Israel. Now, the committee of the Academic Senate that deals with academic freedom issues has found that Shorter did nothing wrong, The Los Angeles Times reported. A letter from the committee said that he was within his rights to have the link. Further, the committee questioned why Leuchter looked into the matter at the request of a pro-Israel group unaffiliated with the university. "We think that faculty members should be free of such scrutiny and should not have to answer to interest groups outside the university,” the committee said in a letter to Shorter.
As colleges have cut their budgets and eliminated positions, the impact has been felt in many college towns, The Wall Street Journal reported. College towns are losing tax revenue and seeing housing prices drop -- while those who have lost jobs move away.
The Memphis College of Art, a private, nonprofit institution, is experiencing severe financial problems, The Commercial Appeal reported. The college's board has declared financial exigency, laid off four faculty members and announced plans to sell much of its art collection. Officials believe that the cuts have turned things around, and say that the budget is now balanced. But the budget for 2012-13 is down 28 percent from the budget for 2011-12.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday killed a major contract that had been criticized as a conflict of interest, The Chicago Tribune reported. The contract was to an architectural firm partly owned by the husband of the administrator who oversees campus construction planning. Christopher Kennedy, chair of the Illinois board, said, "We don't want any more ethical issues associated with the university. We get public money and we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
Nearly one quarter of first-year female college students try smoking tobacco with a hookah for the first time during their freshman year, according to new research in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The researchers who did the study said that they worried that many of those attracted to the hookah (or water pipe) may be unaware that many of the dangers associated with cigarette smoking are also associated with smoking tobacco with a hookah.
Students from underserved populations can benefit from dual enrollment, in which high school students take college courses for credit, according to new research from the Community College Research Center. While early college programs are common among more privileged students, the study looked at its impact on student success and retention among lower-income students in California. Dual enrollment students were more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in four-year colleges and stay enrolled, the study found.
Faculty members and students this week held a protest at Coppin State University, objecting to what they say are 25 layoffs or non-renewals of staff members this year, The Baltimore Sun reported. Leaders of the protest said that they never were told why layoffs were needed, and are concerned about the elimination of positions at a time that President Reginald Avery has been adding slots to his cabinet. Avery and other university officials declined to comment on the protests.
Steve Garban, former chair of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees, has resigned from his trustee position, the Associated Press reported. Garban has been criticized for twice failing to share with the full board information about the investigations into Jerry Sandusky, and many have called for him to resign.
The University of Louisville law school planned to offer $550,000 in aid to the students enrolling in the fall, but ended up offering $1.3 million -- creating a $2.4 million deficit over the next three years since the aid packages were for a full law school education, The Courier-Journal reported. The university will fulfill the aid promises, and will cut aid next year if money cannot be raised for the pledges made to new students. The law school's admissions director resigned on Monday.