Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Texas at Austin has hired a Los Angeles law firm, Latham & Watkins, to handle the university's defense of its affirmative action practices before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported. The law firm, with extensive Supreme Court expertise, will be paid a flat fee of $977,000, with up to another $10,000 for expenses.
Liberty University announced this week that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, would be this year's commencement speaker. The university's announcement noted that Ronald Reagan spoke at Liberty's commencement in 1980, shortly before his election as president. Many students and some other supporters of the university are upset, arguing that they believe Romney -- as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- is not a Christian. Numerous comments have been posted on the Liberty Facebook page, and are attracting support. CNN reported. One student's comment: "Liberty University should have gotten a Christian to speak not someone who practices a cult. Shame on you Liberty University."
The number of low-income students offered admission to Australian universities has increased by 18.9 percent since 2009, according to government records obtained by The Canberra Times. With the gains, the share of low-income students enrolled in Australian universities is approaching a government goal of 20 percent.
The University of Illinois System may have bills of up to $250,000 for consultants and other advisers to try to save the presidency of Michael Hogan, The Chicago Tribune reported. Hogan resigned in March, after a 20-month tenure during which he repeatedly clashed with faculty leaders and some campus administrators. Among the expenses revealed by the Tribune: $4,000 for two meetings with an executive coach.
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is mourning the death of President Matt Branam, who suffered a medical emergency in his office Friday morning and died shortly after he was rushed to a hospital. Branam was named president in 2009, after first serving several months as interim president. He spent most of his career in the corporate and nonprofit worlds before returning to his alma mater to serve as interim president. The Indianapolis Star noted that Branam had wide support on the campus and among alumni, and that many hoped he would bring stable leadership to Rose-Hulman, which saw several short-term presidencies between 2004 and Branam's arrival.
Governor Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, on Friday signed legislation to create Florida Polytechnic as a freestanding university, The Miami Herald reported. The campus has been a branch of the University of South Florida. Many higher education leaders in Florida have questioned the wisdom of creating a new university when the state is having difficulty supporting existing institutions. But Scott said that the new university's emphasis on mathematics, science and engineering fields will "generate a positive return on investment."
Assumption College officials say that a senior who is backing Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in July, will not be on campus "for the forseeable future," the Associated Press reported. Administrators said that they are reviewing the record of Kevin Forts, who has been writing letters of support for Breivik, and who was also arrested for an alleged assault on campus this year. Forts was quoted in a video interview as saying that the deaths of children Breivik killed in his massacre were "a necessary political sacrifice that is not necessary again." And Forts called on people to pay attention not to Breivik's "atrocious actions," but to his political platform. Forts said people need to look at Breivik’s political platform, "rather than his atrocious actions." Forts said of Breivik: "He’s fighting against cultural Marxism and an Islamization of Norway, and he found that the most rational ... way to accomplish that was through terrorist actions on Utoya and in Oslo."
A fraternity member at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is facing expulsion from Delta Tau Delta and a college investigation after he marched around campus in camouflage waving a Confederate flag, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
A university employee took a video of the incident after she was disturbed to see the fraternity parade past her office. The march was apparently an effort to raise money for military veterans. A screen shot from that video published by the Journal Star shows two men leading a group of at least 20 people. Another person in the march is waving an American flag, and several appear to be wearing camo.
A chapter spokesman told the Journal Star that the Confederate flag was destroyed and that the march lasted less than five minutes.The spokesman expects that student to be expelled from Delta Tau Delta. The university's judicial affairs department is investigating, as is the national office of Delta Tau Delta.
The California State University System has decided to preserve grants for graduate students, easing the fears of about 20,000 grad students whose funds were in danger, The Los Angeles Times reported. The system is facing deep budget cuts from the state, and considered asking the low-income graduate students to use federal loans -- rather than the grants -- to cover their expenses. The plan was abandoned amid a lobbying campaign by students to preserve the funds.