Higher Education Quick Takes
Barbara Woodlee announced in the summer of 2010 that she planned to retire as president of Maine's Kennebec Valley Community College, but she's not leaving any time soon. The Kennebec Journal reported that -- after two national searches failed to end with a successor -- Woodlee agreed to stay on.
Villanova University has canceled a week-long workshop by Tim Miller, a gay performance artist whose planned visit had been set up by a professor, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Miller, who has previously appeared at other colleges, including Roman Catholic colleges, said that the university's decision reflected a "coercive, censorious time." The professor who organized the event said that she had been told by the university not to talk about what had happened, and to refer all questions to the press office. The university later issued this statement: "Villanova University embraces intellectual freedom and academic discourse. Indeed, it is at the very heart of our university and our Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition. With regard to the upcoming residency and performance workshops by Tim Miller, we had concerns that his performances were not in keeping with our Catholic and Augustinian values and mission. Therefore, Villanova has decided not to host Mr. Miller on our campus. Villanova University is an open and inclusive community and in no way does this singular decision change that."
Many faculty members at California State University East Bay held a one-day strike in November to protest the stalled state of contract negotiations. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 41 faculty members took personal time to which they are entitled, and only 4 reported that they simply didn't work (which could have resulted in their pay being docked). Charles Reed, chancellor of the Cal State System, has decided that all faculty members will be paid for the day. In a memo, he said that the number of faculty members who reported being off that day was "inconsistent with campus operations that day," but he said that Cal State lacks the funds to investigate who worked and who didn't. He said it would be unfair to dock the pay only of faculty members who admitted not teaching that day, so all faculty members will be paid.
Rick Santorum, enjoying a surge in support in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, on Monday said in a speech that he is not "anti-science," but that Democrats are, CBS News reported. Santorum has been criticized by many scientists for, among other things, suggesting that there is not a consensus that global climate change is real and is significant. Speaking in Ohio Monday, he said that the science of global warming is "political science," based on "phony studies." He elaborated: "When it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones. We are the ones who stand for science, and technology, and using the resources we have to be able to make sure that we have a quality of life in this country and [that we] maintain a good and stable environment."
The New York City Police Department not only monitored Muslim student groups at colleges in New York City, but tracked them at colleges outside city limits, the Associated Press reported. Police officers took steps to monitor students at colleges including the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, went on a whitewater rafting trip to meet some students, and talked to authorities in Buffalo about a professor.
A federal jury on Friday awarded more than $1 million to three women who sued Alabama State University, charging their supervisor there with various forms of harassment, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. A supervisor -- who was black -- repeatedly used the word "nigger" in interacting with the three plaintiffs, two black women and one biracial woman, the suit charged. The supervisor also was accused of referring to one of the women as a "white bitch," and of suggesting that she strip to show how many tattoos she has on her body. The university is considering an appeal.
The colleges in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I voted last week to uphold their ability to award multiyear scholarships to athletes, narrowly rejecting an effort by some of the division's members to block such grants. The multiyear scholarship rule was one of several that the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors approved in a burst of legislative activity last fall aimed at quelling concerns about rule breaking and about the association's treatment of athletes -- and one of two rules that significant numbers of Division I members sought to block because of concerns that they would favor wealthier programs and conflict with how most institutional financial aid is awarded, among other reasons. The NCAA's governance process provides a mechanism in which the division's members can formally vote to override decisions by the Division I board.
Last week's vote on the multiyear scholarship rule would have required a five-eighths majority of Division I members to block it from taking effect. But only 205 of the 330 participating colleges and conferences -- two short of the 207 needed -- opposed the scholarship plan. Twenty-five institutions and leagues did not vote. "I am pleased that student-athletes will continue to benefit from the ability of institutions to offer athletics aid for more than one year," said the NCAA's president, Mark Emmert. "But it's clear that there are significant portions of the membership with legitimate concerns. As we continue to examine implementation of the rule, we want to work with the membership to address those concerns."
Fifty-nine percent of faculty members at the University of California at Davis voted to approve a resolution that they have confidence in the leadership of Linda P.B. Katehi as chancellor, The Sacramento Bee reported. The same resolution also expressed criticism of the university's use of pepper spray against nonviolent student protesters last year -- a move that galvanized campus critics of the chancellor. By a wider margin (with 69 percent voting no), faculty members rejected a resolution of no confidence in Katehi. The Bee noted that some faculty views on Katehi are not based on the pepper spray incident. Generally, her decisions as chancellor are seen as benefiting those in the sciences, and she has stronger support there than in the humanities.
Curtin University, in Australia, is defending itself against criticism of an honorary degree awarded Friday to Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, AFP reported. The university says that the degree honored important work for early-childhood education. But critics say that Mansor is known for her expensive shopping, which is perceived as insensitive to the poverty faced by many people in her country. Following numerous critical postings about the honor on the university's Facebook page, officials blocked new comments.
Sudanese police raided the University of Khartoum Friday morning and arrested hundreds of students, Reuters reported. The university was closed two months ago, following protests, but many students have remained on the campus, waiting for operations to resume.