Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 28, 2014

Don Matthews, the professor of religious studies who was suspended from teaching at Naropa University after taking an indefinite vow of silence, has been reinstated, the Daily Camera reported. Matthews was suspended in December after refusing to speak in class, in protest of what he said was institutional racism at Naropa. Administrators said they had logged dozens of students complaints against Matthews, including that he told students they needed to seek mental health services and had threatened to sue others for defamation. The vow of silence in the classroom was a kind of last straw, they said, although President Charles Lief said the institution was devoted to working with Matthews to ensure he returned to teaching. Matthews denied those claims, and said he was unaware of student complaints against him prior to his suspension. Lief said he'd been offered multiple opportunities for professional development. Naropa, a Buddhist university, does not offer tenure to professors. Matthews said he had hired legal representation and had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to see if the suspension had violated his civil rights. A board spokesman on Monday confirmed that his case was being investigated by a regional board, but had no further information.

January 28, 2014

Landing a job right out of law school is a challenge many recent graduates experience. Despite the gradual decline in the overall employment rate for those students, 92 percent in 2007, and 85 percent in 2012, law students in their final year still said they are satisfied with the overall law school experience, according to a new survey. Even though the overall satisfaction has remained consistent, 55 percent of law school students are still unsatisfied with their institutions’ career counseling and job search help. The Law School Survey of Student Engagement, the study, received responses from more than 26,000 students at 86 different law schools.

The decline in dissatisfaction seems to occur shortly after the first year and it’s not just with career advising, but all advising services like academic, personal and financial aid.

January 28, 2014

Internet2 will offer workshops and campus visits to assist small institutions seeking to upgrade their cybersecurity measures, the technology consortium announced on Monday. The effort will be funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Starting next month, Internet2 will host the first of three regional workshops this year on how investments in cybersecurity can benefit campus research, and over the next two years, the consortium will make consulting visits to up to 30 institutions. According to Internet2's grant application, the two-year effort will also produce a manual of best practices. Those findings will be made publicly available on Internet2's website to benefit institutions unable to participate.

January 28, 2014

A DeVry University graduate will be among First Lady Michelle Obama’s special guests at this evening’s State of the Union address, the White House announced Tuesday.

Sabrina Simone Jenkins of Charleston, S.C., a single mother who worked full-time while graduating from college, was selected to sit in the House gallery with Mrs. Obama. The First Lady’s guests are often mentioned in the president’s speech and are selected to highlight key themes of the address.

The White House said Jenkins’ story illustrated perseverance and a determination to improve oneself. 

“After servicing in the Air Force,” according to a White House press release, Jenkins “took classes at DeVry University while working full time, graduating with a 3.7 GPA at the age of 42 – all while caring for ailing family members and becoming seriously ill herself.” She then earned a masters degree in human resources.

Jenkins now owes nearly $90,000 in student loan debt, “something that will only worsen” as she pays for her teenaged daughter to attend college, according to the information provided by the White House.

The president's advisors have said this year's speech will focus on “opportunity, action and optimism” and will reflect the administration’s desire to move forward unilaterally with executive actions the face of a gridlocked, divided Congress.

But few other details have been released, leaving it unclear what, if anything, Obama will say about higher education tonight. In his most recent addresses to Congress, Obama has warned colleges about rising tuition and pushed accreditation as a lever to slow the growth of college costs.  

Another guest of the First Lady will be 23-year-old Cristian Avila, a “DREAMer” and immigration reform activist from Phoenix, Ariz. Avila was brought to the United States illegally as a child and received temporary relief from deportation through the administration’s deferred action program.  

January 27, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Curtis Marean of Arizona State University discusses the technological developments that made early humans deadly hunters. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 27, 2014

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is starting a wide-ranging effort to promote entrepreneurship and turn student inventions into products and businesses, The Boston Globe reported. MIT is already no slouch when it comes to technology innovation, but officials have been concerned that Harvard and Stanford Universities have been expanding efforts on promoting startup culture. MIT recently started giving academic credit to engineering students for participating in a boot camp to turn ideas into businesses. Also under consideration are such steps as creating an undergraduate minor in innovation and entrepreneurship and funding student-run startups.

 

January 27, 2014

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has started an investigation into how Pennsylvania State University has responded to allegations of sexual assault (beyond allegations involving the former coach, Jerry Sandusky, who has been convicted for abusing numerous boys), The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The OCR investigation was prompted by data the department analyzed, not a complaint. One question of interest to federal investigators is why the university reported 56 instances of forcible sex offenses in 2012, more than double the 24 reported the prior year.

 

January 27, 2014

An agreement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will pave the way for more collaboration among the universities in both parts of Ireland, Times Higher Education reported. The Northern Ireland government will provide some financial support to the Republic of Ireland's research grant program. Going forward, Northern Ireland universities will now be able to apply for support for joint research efforts as long as they also involve an Irish university outside of Northern Ireland.

 

January 27, 2014

An investigation by ESPN has found that the University of Missouri at Columbia failed to investigate an alleged rape by one or more members of the football team. The article says that the university did nothing after learning of the allegations, and that the alleged victim -- a student who was a member of the women's swim team -- eventually committed suicide. University officials said that they didn't have enough information to act on the possible assault.

On Sunday, Timothy M. Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, announced that he is requesting an independent review of the case. "Such an independent review will be beneficial to all our campuses so that we can determine if there were any shortcomings with respect to MU’s handling of this matter and, if so, ways in which to improve the handling of such matters in the future," he said.

 

 

 

January 27, 2014

The Christian Theological Seminary, in Indiana, has announced a "sustainability plan" that involves buyouts to faculty members while looking for partnerships with other institutions and developing new financial strategies. While not detailed in the announcement, the buyouts could substantially change the nature of the institution. Some concerned students have heard rumors that essentially all faculty members are being asked to accept deals. But a spokeswoman for the seminary said that the buyout offers have been presented to 70 percent of tenured faculty members.

 

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