Higher Education Quick Takes
Harold Raveché, the former president of Stevens Institute of Technology, has received more than $5 million since he quit under fire for alleged financial mismanagement, The Star-Ledger reported. University officials said that they were legally obligated to pay the money, which came in the form of consulting fees, severance pay, retirement benefits and other cash.
Latino students are likelier than students from other racial groups to be deterred from enrolling in graduate school because of debt, says a report from the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. The report argues that reducing undergraduate debt is essential to increasing the number of Latino students who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
The Middle East Studies Association on Thursday released a letter it sent to The New York Times, criticizing the newspaper for refusing to run a letter to the editor by 151 faculty members objecting to an ad that the newspaper did run. The ad -- by the David Horowitz Freedom Center -- identified 14 "professors of hate" who the center said advocate a boycott of Israel. The ad called for these professors to be "publicly shamed" and urged alumni and students to contact the presidents of the professors' universities. The opening of the ad noted that boycotts of Jewish stores were an early tactic of the Nazis. In response to the ad, 151 professors wrote a letter to the editor of the Times, arguing that the ad unfairly linked their criticism of Israel to the Nazis, distorting their views.
Eileen M. Murphy, vice president of corporate communications at the Times, told Inside Higher Ed via e-mail that the letter was rejected based on policy. "The decision not to run this particular letter to the editor was based on the fact that our letters space is reserved for comment about our journalism, both news and opinion, not about paid advertisements," she said.
The Middle East Studies Association's letter questions that logic. "With this decision, the Times has failed in its duty to act in the public interest by fostering the open and vigorous exchange of ideas and opinions and by giving those who have been subjected to defamation by means of a paid advertisement a reasonable opportunity to respond," the letter said. "We call on The New York Times to offer the scholars and teachers who have been personally attacked, and those who support them, the opportunity to respond to the vicious allegations made against them by an organization which, unlike those of us in the academic world, seems to possess both the desire and the means to engage in character assassination in the pages of The New York Times."
A spokesman for the Horowitz Center said that the group had not yet responded to the Middle East Studies Association letter.
Angelo Armenti Jr. was fired Wednesday as president of California University of Pennsylvania, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Board of Governors of the state higher education system fired Armenti after he declined to resign. Officials have been studying spending accounts related to the university, but declined to discuss details on why Armenti was fired. He had been president since 1992.
The parents of two Chinese students at the University of Southern California who were shot and killed while in a parked car near the campus have sued the university, charging it misled them about safety issues, The Los Angeles Times reported. The suit says that the university incorrectly claims on its website that it is "ranked among the safest of U.S. universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation." After the two were murdered last month, the university continued to provide "clearly misleading" information on safety, the suit says. A lawyer for the university said that the institution is "deeply saddened by this tragic event, which was a random violent act not representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus. While we have deep sympathy for the victims' families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed."
Cuba's universities have cut enrollment by nearly 26 percent, The Miami Herald reported. The cuts are largely motivated by the country's need to cut spending. The programs seeing the largest cuts are in the social sciences.
Just three months after Susan Hockfield announced her plans to retire as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT's board said Tuesday that it had hired Provost L. Rafael Reif to succeed her. The remarkably quick (for major research universities) succession came about not for a lack of candidates -- MIT considered more than 100, said its board chairman, John S. Reed -- but because Reif emerged so clearly as a "uniquely qualified candidate," Reed said. Reif was centrally involved in many of the institute's most innovative efforts in his seven years as provost, including the creation of MITx and its recent expansion, with Harvard University, into EdX. “I cannot tell you that this is a dream come true,” Reif told reporters after his selection, “because this is a dream I never dared to imagine.”
College athletes in contact sports such as football and ice hockey were more likely than peers in non-contact sports to perform worse than expected on tests measuring the ability to absorb new learning, according to a study published this week in the journal Neurology. The study, by Thomas McAllister of Dartmouth College's medical school, did not find differences in test results between the two groups of athletes at the beginning of the season, suggesting that head impacts from previous seasons did not appear to diminish thinking and memory skills in contact-sport athletes.
But where just 4 percent of the athletes in non-contact sports (such as crew, track, and skiing) performed worse than expected on the test of new learning after their playing season, 22 percent of contact-sport athletes did. (Players who had suffered concussions were excluded from the study.) Concerns about cognitive impairment due to head impacts has been escalating, most notably in football and most intensely at the professional and high school levels.