Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, is attacking a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to Craven Community College, in North Carolina. The grant is quite modest -- 25 books and a DVD -- but Jones objects to the subject matter. The materials are about Muslim cultures (and similar grants are being given to other colleges for their libraries). In a statement, Jones said: "It is appalling to me that a federal agency like NEH is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this. It makes zero sense for the U.S. government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations." (The grant announcement does not state that it is "promoting" Islamic cultures, only encouraging more understanding of them.)

Jones also called for the community college to assure "balance" if it accepts the grant by adding materials on "Christianity and America’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage." The Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition then issued a statement that it "would be pleased to provide a series of materials about the history of Christianity to the Craven Community College. However, in light of the government’s role in keeping God out of the public square and the obstacles that Christians face when it comes to prayer and the ability to publicly proclaim our faith, it just seems more than odd that the federal government will provide a package of 'Muslim Journeys' to a number of colleges nationwide. It’s even more perplexing knowing the fiscal problems facing our nation."

A local newspaper, The New Bern Sun Journal, ran an editorial stating that Jones was being unfair in his criticism of the grant. "The materials funded by the NEH grant are intended to teach about Islamic culture, something that would be useful in a community where many residents find themselves deployed to Islamic nations."

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

The retirement package for John Sperling, the recently retired founder of the Apollo Group (parent company of the University of Phoenix) "likely won’t do the company any favors on the PR front," The Wall Street Journal reported. Sperling will receive $5 million in a "special retirement bonus," an annuity of $70,833.33 a month, ownership of two Apollo vehicles he used while he was chairman and "reasonable out-of-pocket” medical- and dental-care coverage.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

A group of students and a former dean filed a complaint last week with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill violated a series of federal laws protecting the rights of sexual assault survivors, The Huffington Post and The Daily Tar Heel student newspaper reported. Melinda Manning, the former associate dean of students who reportedly resigned over the institution's handling of sexual assault cases, said the individuals who run the campus judicial system did not receive adequate training for the job and mistreated victims, asking inappropriate questions and blaming victims. The complaint says upper-level administrators pressured Manning to underreport sexual assault statistics to the federal government and discouraged her from approaching Chancellor Holden Thorp about her concerns.

The complaint, filed on behalf of 64 assault victims, says UNC violated the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

An online petition campaign organized by Avaaz.org draws attention to the plight of Syrian students who are unable to pay tuition fees, including government-sponsored students whose tuition payments have been stopped. A statement released Friday by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, asked universities and funding agencies to exercise discretion over tuition and to use hardship funds to support students when possible. The statement notes that all institutions that enroll Syrian students through the Syrian Higher Education Capacity Building Project have agreed to waive or defer fees.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Dixie State College's board has voted to request a name change to Dixie State University, but not to abandon the "Dixie" portion of its name. The institution is located in a part of Utah settled by immigrants from the South who embraced the Dixie name and Confederate imagery. As the college debating becoming a university, some affiliated with the university said that it would be a good time to change its name entirely, and to end associations that some saw as exclusionary.

Steven G. Caplin, the board chair, issued a statement: "As with stakeholders at large, the trustees saw the merits of several different naming options, and the majority preferred 'Dixie State University.' In the end the board chose to unite as one body. We unanimously stand behind the Dixie State University name and encourage all stakeholders to do the same. This is the time to combine our resources, make our best contributions, and rally around this great institution."

Roi Wilkins, a senior at the college who is African-American, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the college was ignoring the extent to which its name is associated with oppression. "I feel like they’re still trying to sweep it under the rug," he said.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Classes resume at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities this week and officials have suspended a rule that normally requires a doctor's note to miss the first day of classes, the Associated Press reported. There are so many flu cases that officials want to encourage students to stay home if they are ill.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Governors should work together to undertake a review of states' policies on online education, given the fast-changing state of the industry and the cost to states and institutions of regulation, the National Governors Association said in a policy brief Thursday. The paper lays out the landscape of state regulation of distance learning and suggests areas that a study might examine, including whether states would consider joining a multistate compact or reciprocity agreement for authorizing online programs.

 

 

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

The American Medical Association on Thursday announced a $10 million, five-year campaign to encourage medical schools to rethink how they educate future doctors. The medical group says it hopes its grants will spur new methods for teaching or assessing competencies for medical students, improving understanding of the health care system in medical training, and strengthening the professionalism of future doctors.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

A group of senior faculty members are complaining that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is putting business interests ahead of the needs of graduate students and other campus constituents in a zoning proposal for expansion on and around its campus, The Boston Globe reported. The newspaper cited the faculty members' complaints that the proposal by the MIT Investment Management Company would prioritize commercial development over education and research purposes and pays too little attention to the pressing lack of affordable housing for graduate students.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Colleen Seifert of the University of Michigan explains why it’s sometimes hard to abandon an idea even when you know it to be false. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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