Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Authorities at Arkansas State University arrested Carlon Walker, a 44-year-old local man, on Tuesday for allegedly making a bomb threat against a women's dormitory. Students were evacuated from the facility (and an adjacent building), but were permitted to return after a room-by-room search of the building found nothing of danger. A spokeswoman for the university said Walker was not known to have any connection to Arkansas State, and that authorities did not believe this threat was linked to four others against colleges and universities in the last week. Those threats have not been linked either, but law enforcement officials are investigating the incidents for possible connections.

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Scholars and others are protesting a plan to largely end public access to the Georgia Archives, which includes key documents and collections dating back to the Colonial era, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. State officials say that they don't like the idea, but have no choice due to budget cuts. A petition to keep the archives open has attracted more than 13,000 signatures. James R. Grossman, president of the American Historical Association, released a letter he sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, criticizing the planned closure of public access. "The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records," Grossman wrote. "Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future."

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 4:24am

A faculty member at Brevard Community College has requested and been granted an unpaid leave after she was alleged to have used class time to urge students to vote for President Obama and handed out campaign material on behalf of the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates for office, Florida Today reported. Sharon Sweet, the faculty member, did not respond to requests for comment. College officials said that a parent of a student complained reported the allegations, setting off an investigation. "We are a nonpartisan, public institution,” a spokesman for the college said. "It is very important that all of our faculty and staff act in that manner at work and while they’re on campus."

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 4:26am

The economy's impact on giving to higher education isn't always what one might expect, according to a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Using a national sample of colleges and universities, the study found a positive correlation between average income and house values in a state and donations by the people who live in that state. However, the study also found an increase in donations -- especially for operating budgets -- when a university suffers a "negative endowment shock." The latter finding appears correlated to increased efforts by fund-raisers during such periods, and suggests that donors respond to such efforts. The study finds that these donations may be a form of "insurance" against endowment declines.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Richard Aronson of the Florida Institute of Technology reveals the connection between coral growth and El Niño. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 3:00am

Saint Louis University announced Monday that administrators were no longer proposing a post-tenure review system that generated considerable faculty anger, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The proposal would have required full reviews every six years in a way that left faculty leaders saying that their tenure would be worthless.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 3:00am

About 70 percent of the British public believes that caps should be placed on the number of foreign students who can enroll there, according to a poll discussed by Times Higher Education. Anti-immigrant groups cheered the results. Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: "This gives the lie to those who have been claiming that the public are not concerned about student inflows. When the questions are posed in their factual and policy context the public display the firm common sense that one would expect."

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 3:00am

Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, has dropped a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Ginger Hansen, vice president of enrollment management and communications at the college, explained the shift in an e-mail: "Our decision to go test optional is largely based on our institutional philosophy of giving all students, regardless of a singular standardized test score, an opportunity."

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The board of Brown University's Athletic Hall of Fame has decided not to remove Joe Paterno, the late football coach at Pennsylvania State University, from his place of honor. "Paterno, a member of the Class of 1950 (A.B., English, magna cum laude), was inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 18, 1978. His election to the Hall of Fame recognized Paterno’s outstanding career as a player at Brown, quarterbacking the celebrated varsity football team of 1949, and his contributions to college sports," said a statement from the board. "In choosing not to remove Paterno from the list of Brown’s Hall of Fame athletes, the Board of Directors did not intend to diminish the tragic events that occurred at Penn State toward the end of Coach Paterno’s career. It sought, rather, to acknowledge the recognition of the achievements for which it elected Paterno to the Hall of Fame nearly 35 years ago."

 

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Emory University on Friday announced a series of program eliminations, saying that it needed to focus resources on a smaller number of academic units. The university will close programs in educational studies, physical education, visual arts and journalism. In addition, graduate admissions will be suspended in Spanish and economics, pending a "reimagining" of the role graduate education at Emory will play in those fields. Tenured faculty members in the departments will be assured of their lines moving to other departments. But staff and non-tenured faculty members are expected to lose jobs, and their positions are guaranteed only for the current academic year.

A letter from Robin Forman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory, explained that "these steps are not in response to the deficit, and will play no role in reducing our expenses." Rather, the letter, said, "for the college to reach its intellectual goals requires more than simply breaking even; we must have the flexibility to make the investments that our aspirations require. All of the funds that will gradually become available through the changes I have described will be reinvested in the college, strengthening core areas and expanding into new ones."

Comments posted on the student newspaper's website, and social media suggest that some students and faculty members are not accepting the logic offered by the administration.

 

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