Higher Education Quick Takes
Academics at RMIT University, in Australia, are protesting new requirements that employees be "positive" and "optimistic," as well as "resolute" and "passionate," The Australian reported. These qualities are part of a new "behavioral capability framework" that officials said would result in a more productive environment on campus. But many employees say that they are being coerced into adopting certain attitudes, and that telling people what to think is antithetical to an academic environment.
Students on many campuses held protests last week of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year old who was shot and killed in Florida. His killer has claimed self-defense and, to date, faces no charges, outraging many. Other campuses are planning protests this week.
The case -- seen by many as highlighting the discrimination faced by young black men -- has been the subject of particular discussion at historically black colleges and universities. More than 100 Livingstone College students held a protest Friday. Howard University students held a vigil. At Paul Quinn College, President Michael Sorrell invited students and others to attend a rally that attracted hundreds. Students at Winston-Salem State University also held a protest.
The protests and activities are by no means limited to historically black colleges. At the University of South Florida, black students organized a protest in which they sat with signs that demonstrated what Trayvon Martin had with him when he was shot. Signs said:
- Hoodie. Check.
- Package of Skittles. Check.
- Drink. Check.
- Black. Check.
Those statements were followed by the quote: "Hope I don’t get shot."
A psychologist warned Pennsylvania State University police in 1998 that Jerry Sandusky was a "likely pedophile" after she treated a young boy who described being hugged by the man now facing this charge in court, MSNBC reported. The psychologist came forward now, with the approval of the boy's family, amid the debate over Sandusky and whether Penn State did enough to protect children from him. In 1998, the police consulted with another psychologist, who said that there was no evidence of abuse. The new report is significant because it was a detailed complaint, four years before a graduate assistant says he saw Sandusky molesting a boy -- an incident that the graduate assistant reported. The psychologist told NBC that she was horrified to find so many other boys had experienced what her patient experienced. "There was very little doubt in my mind (Sandusky) … was a male predator, someone that was in the process of grooming a young man for abuse ," said the psychologist. "I thought … my report was strong enough to suggest that this was somebody who should be watched."
Michael Hogan, who is leaving the University of Illinois System presidency after two controversial years in which he angered many faculty leaders and some campus administrators, isn't departing the executive suite without a nice compensation package. The Chicago Tribune reported that he will get a one-year sabbatical before becoming a history professor at a system campus of his choice. In that role, he is assured a starting salary of $285,100 -- the average of the 10 faculty members with the highest salaries in the university system (excluding medicine and dentistry). Hogan's salary is $651,000 this year. He will receive $67,500 in deferred compensation in 2015. He would have received an additional $157,500 had he stayed for an additional three years.
More than 1,000 Israeli academics -- including many prominent figures in Israel's universities -- have signed a petition calling on the government to stop the process of awarding university status to the Ariel University Center, which offers college courses on a West Bank campus, Haaretz reported. The academics object to the impact such a move would have on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and some question whether the country needs another university. The Ariel campus has been embraced by many in Israel who seek to keep the West Bank (or significant parts of it). Nir Gov, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an organizer of the petition, said: "When did the Council for Higher Education decide that another university was needed in Israel? Who said that Ariel is the college that can most efficiently become an official research university in Israel?"
Civil liberties groups and some students are raising questions about proposed protest rules under consideration by the Seattle Community College District, The Seattle Times reported. An extended Occupy protest at Seattle Central Community College last fall was seen by participants as a great example of public protest, but was an expensive public health challenge for the college. Most of the participants in the Occupy protest were not affiliated with the college. The rules under consideration would, among other things, require outside groups to tell the college 24 hours before a protest and limit the size of protest signs.
Non-English speaking European countries are seeing a major growth in master's level programs in English, according to a new report by the Institute of International Education. The number of such programs in Europe (excluding Britain and Ireland) was 4,644 in 2011, up from 1,028 in 1977. The Netherlands has the greatest number of such programs (812), followed by Germany (632) and Sweden (401). But some countries further down on the list showed the greatest percentage increases in the last year. Italy and Denmark have only 191 and 188 such programs, respectively, but both of those figures are up 33 percent in the last year.
Allan Golston, president of U.S. programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the interim successor to Hilary Pennington, the foundation's director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives, a Gates spokeswoman confirmed. Pennington, who steps down at the end of the month, has played a prominent role in the foundation's college completion push over the last five years. Golston will manage the postsecondary success program until a permanent hire for the position is named, the spokeswoman said.
A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of California's voters say they support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the sales tax and levies on wealthier taxpayers as part of the state's solution to its budget problems -- a plan on which another round of big cuts to the state's public colleges hangs in the balance, the Los Angeles Times reported. The survey, by the newspaper and the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that 64 percent of voters supported the latest iteration of the governor's proposal, which he aims to put on the November ballot, when they are told that the additional revenues will be used to fund public schools, community colleges, and public safety. Brown's budget plan for higher education would keep the public college systems' budgets flat but includes a "trigger" cut of $200 million for the University of California and California State University if the tax plan is not approved.