Higher Education Quick Takes
Several hundred students at the University of Mississippi who were frustrated by President Obama's re-election held a protest early Wednesday morning. The Clarion-Ledger reported that while the event was incorrectly described as a "riot," it did involve burning of an Obama campaign poster and the shouting of racial epithets. Chancellor Dan Jones issued a statement expressing disappointment in the “immature and uncivil approach” of some students.
Voters in the Austin, Texas, metropolitan area supported a tax increase proposal on ballots Tuesday that will provide revenue to support a new medical school at the University of Texas at Austin, a longtime ambition for the flagship university that it has struggled to support financially.
The new tax is the final piece of the funding puzzle administrators said they needed secured before they moved ahead on the school. University administrators said Tuesday that they would appoint a committee to choose a dean, select a location for the school, and finalize partnerships. They said they hope to have a medical school and teaching hospital in place for a first class of 50 students by 2015.
A former dean at St. John’s University accused of stealing more than $1 million from the institution and forcing international students to perform personal chores as a condition of their scholarships was found dead on Tuesday; police are investigating her death as a suicide, The New York Times reported. Cecilia Chang was midway through her trial at the federal court in Brooklyn, where she took the stand on Monday. As St. John’s vice president for international relations and dean of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chang allegedly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal expenses to a university credit card, and forced international students to clean her house and hand-wash her underwear, among other chores. Chang faced up to 20 years in prison.
The University of California at Berkeley announced Tuesday that it has created 100 endowed chairs by matching a $113 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The grant was made amid concern that Berkeley risked losing star faculty members to private institutions in an era when the state could not be counted on to support faculty salaries. By endowing the chairs, the university hopes to hold on to and attract top faculty talent, which in turn is expected to attract top graduate students.
About 350 students at Fairfield University were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and the university is relocating them with friends, with local volunteers and others. Four students have an unusual new home, The Connecticut Post reported. President Jeffrey von Arx opened his home, and they have moved in.
The executive director of the foundation for Los Angeles Trade-Technical College has resigned, 10 months after being placed on leave in the wake of an audit that raised questions about payments made to her and other possible financial improprieties, the Los Angeles Times reported. Rhea Chung was placed on administrative leave in January, and she defended her record at the foundation in a letter to the chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. The county's district attorney is still investigating the possible wrongdoing at the foundation.
The U.S. Department of Education is questioning the "financial responsibility" of Corinthian Colleges based on the department's interpretation of the for-profit's estimated intangible assets, according to a corporate filing. If not resolved, the matter could lead to Corinthian losing its eligibility to participate in federal financial aid programs. The company said in a statement that it disagrees with the department's revised take on its assets. Representatives from Corinthian and the department will meet soon to discuss the issue.
The Association of American Universities on Monday announced that it had invited Boston University to join its ranks. Membership in the AAU is highly sought by up-and-coming research universities. The last new members was the Georgia Institute of Technology, in 2010. Last year, the AAU lost two members, with Syracuse University leaving voluntarily and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln being kicked out. At that time, AAU leaders said that they didn't want the organization to get too large, and that they wanted to periodically evaluate whether members met the criteria for membership. An AAU spokesman said that no institutions were asked to leave this year.