Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of the Philippines has barred a planned showing today of "Innocence of Muslims," the film that has sparked violent outrage in much of the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. The film was to have been screened in a course discussing freedom of expression.
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has announced that it will continue to have clergy members offer a prayer before football games, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had asked the university to reconsider the practice, saying it made some students uncomfortable, and that some of the prayers were sufficiently sectarian to violate a court ruling barring such worship at the public university's events. The university says that prayers will be consistent with that ruling, so the foundation says that it considers this a victory.
WASHINGTON -- Congress drew near Wednesday afternoon to passing a stopgap spending bill that would fund the federal government through March 27, 2013, averting a government shutdown without making any changes to financial aid or research appropriations. The bill removes the threat of a government shutdown in the coming months. The Senate voted to expedite debate on the bill, which has already passed the House, and could pass it as early as today.
The Association of American Universities called on the next president -- whether President Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- to address the nation's long-term financial problems, sustain the Pell Grant and student loans, and take action on immigration. In a policy paper, the association, which represents 61 research universities, said the next administration should work to pass the DREAM Act and provide a path to citizenship for foreign students graduating from American universities with degrees in science, engineering, technology and math. The association also urged the federal government to prod states to increase or maintain funding for public research universities.
The State University of New York has been pushing the idea of "shared services" in which various of the 64 campuses would seek joint contracts or combine functions to save money. Some pairs of campuses have decided that single administrators will perform jobs for both institutions, while many other campuses sought economies of scale with joint contracting. In the first year of the program, the system saved $6 million, SUNY officials announced Wednesday. The money was reallocated to academic instruction and student services, officials said.
North Dakota officials have ordered Williston State College to stop housing foreign workers who are in the United States under a visa program that allows them to take short-term jobs, the Associated Press reported. "Housing foreign workers was not intended when the Legislature authorized bonds or appropriated public funds to build, maintain and operate the facilities," said a letter from the chancellor of North Dakota's university system, Hamid Shirvani.
Just when it seemed the furor over the fast food chain Chick-fil-A had finally died down, the CEO who started it all with a public declaration that marriage should be between a man and a woman finally caved Wednesday with the Civil Rights Agenda's announcement that the company would stop donating money to Christian groups supporting anti-gay causes. While Dan T. Cathy’s comments in June triggered subsequent boycotts across the country, some students had already been protesting Chick-fil-A for using its nonprofit arm, WinShip Foundation, to fund groups such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage; students at Northeastern University turned down a franchise in February, for instance. But Cathy's support of "the biblical definition of marriage" sparked protests and petitions to ban the chain at other campuses, including New York and Louisville Universities, and the Universities of Georgia and Kansas. In August, a student activities committee at Davidson College suspended service of Chick-fil-A at student events. Some administrators even denounced Cathy’s comments.
The New York Public Library has revised a plan that would have moved most of its books out of the flagship Fifth Avenue location that has long been a key site for academic research, The New York Times reported. About 1.5 million books that would have otherwise been moved will remain at the location, which will house 3.3 million of the library's 4.5 million book collection. A donation of $8 million will allow the library to build a new storage facility so that it can make other changes in the library building without sending the books off site. Many scholars have been furious about the plan to move so many books away from the library.