Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 10, 2016

The London School of Economics and Political Science said some of its professors have been told they can’t advise the Foreign Office on Britain's departure from the European Union because they are not British, the BBC reported.

The university said the leader of a project had been told that only holders of U.K. passports should participate in talks on national security and foreign trade.

The Foreign Office denied that anything had changed, saying it would “continue to take advice from the best and brightest minds, regardless of nationality.”

LSE issued the following statement on the matter: “We believe our academics, including non-U.K. nationals, have hugely valuable expertise, which will be vital in this time of uncertainty around the U.K.'s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

“Any changes to security measures are a matter for the U.K. government.”

October 10, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Natasha Rajah, associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University, discusses the use of brain scans to study when memory decline begins. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 7, 2016

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, which operates programs at 667 college campuses, has confirmed plans to fire any staff members who support same-sex marriage, Time reported. The dismissals will start next month and the organization has asked those who back same-sex marriage to come forward and identify themselves. The news comes as about 10 staff members formed a group to speak out on behalf of their gay and lesbian students.

Bianca Louie, who until recently worked for InterVarsity at Mills College, said she feared the policy would endanger work that the group does. “I don’t know how InterVarsity can do ministry on campus with integrity anymore,” Louie said. “Mills is a women’s college with inclusive trans policies, and higher ed is overall making more efforts to be inclusive and safe for LGBTQ students. … I could see us getting kicked off campus because of this.”

October 7, 2016

A California college where the former CEO pleaded guilty to visa fraud in 2015 will no longer be able to enroll international students, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday.

Herguan University is no longer able to issue the required immigration-related paperwork to new international students, but will retain access to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System until Jan. 11. Current international students at Herguan have until that date to seek transfer to another SEVP-certified institution, change their visa status or depart the United States.

An ICE official said that Herguan currently has about 240 international students, including almost 180 from India.

October 7, 2016

The Massachusetts Appeals Court has unanimously rejected a lawsuit by Harvard University students seeking to force the university to sell its holdings in the fossil fuel industry, The Boston Globe reported. The students sought to assert "special standing" under state laws for nonprofit organizations as being among those who benefit from the university's endowment. Then they said they should be able to force divestment. The appeals court, however, found that the students failed “to show that they have been accorded a personal right in the management or administration of Harvard’s endowment that is individual to them or distinct from the student body or public at large.”

October 7, 2016

A university in Alberta, Canada, has suspended without pay a professor accused of denying the Holocaust following scrutiny of an anti-Semitic post made by a third party on his Facebook page, CBC reported. The University of Lethbridge has “reassigned” the classes of Anthony Hall, who says he is a victim of a smear campaign.

October 7, 2016

The Ghanaian government wants to remove a statue of Mohandas Gandhi from the University of Ghana campus in response to a petition drive from professors characterizing the Indian independence leader as racist, the Associated Press reported. The petition quotes from writings of Gandhi’s in which he refers to black South Africans as savages.

Ghana’s foreign affairs ministry said the government wants to relocate the statue “to ensure its safety” and expressed concern that the controversy would harm Ghana’s relations with India. "While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve," the government’s statement said. "He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world."

October 7, 2016

B Lab is a nonprofit group that issues a seal of approval to companies across 120 industries that adhere to voluntary standards based on social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. After a two years of work, the group on Friday released a new benchmarking tool for colleges. The voluntary standards are designed to enable comparisons of both nonprofit and for-profit institutions.

"B Lab recognizes that the cost and outcomes of higher education, particularly regarding for-profit institutions, have become increasingly controversial, but regardless of structure institutions should put their students’ needs first," Dan Osusky, standards development manager at B Lab, said in a written statement. "We see our role as the promoter of robust standards of industry-specific performance that can be used by for-profits and nonprofits alike to create the greatest possible positive impact and serve the public interest, ultimately by improving the lives of their students."

A committee of experts, working with HCM Strategists and with funding from the Lumina Foundation, devised the standards. Laureate Education, a global for-profit chain, already uses the assessment tool.

October 7, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Robert Edgell, assistant professor of technology management at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, explores the hidden intentions behind human communications and how they can hinder innovation. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 6, 2016

Sharon Gray, a postdoc in plant biology at the University of California, Davis, was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when a vehicle in which she was traveling was stoned by protesters, The Sacramento Bee reported. The protest was over land rights and political issues in Ethiopia and had no apparent connection to Gray. She was traveling with a colleague in plant biology who was not injured. The university said that Gray was in Ethiopia "for a meeting to discuss the next steps on a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations."

Colleagues in Gray's department have posted numerous photographs of her on a webpage.

"Even in tragedy, we hope that we all can find some comfort in the wonderful work Sharon was engaged in that will better the lives of so many around the world," said a statement from Ken Burtis, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.


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