Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 16, 2013

A former Denison University student who was expelled over sexual assault allegations is suing the institution, claiming campus officials violated his rights and did not follow their own policies during student judicial proceedings. The Newark Advocate reports that the lawsuit charges include negligence, violation of right to an attorney, and breach of contracts. Zackary Hunt is one of at least four students this year to sue their former colleges after campus hearings addressing sexual assault accusations. The others attended Xavier and Saint Joseph’s University, and Vassar College.

December 16, 2013

Fifty-six percent of all first-time college students who enrolled in fall 2007 earned a degree or certificate within six years, and that figure rose to 78 percent for those who were enrolled exclusively full time, the National Student Clearinghouse said in a report today. Those were among the many findings contained in "Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates," the clearinghouse's second annual report on completion rates. The report includes for the first time data on dual-enrollment students -- those who were enrolled in college-level courses while still in high school.

December 16, 2013

Eastern Nazarene College has clarified its rules so that student events can now include dancing, The Patriot Ledger reported. Dancing has not been explicitly banned to date, but many thought it was because the college followed the Church of the Nazarene Manual, which forbids “all forms of dancing that detract from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve.” The college has now adopted a policy that dancing is permitted, consistent with the church manual, provided that songs are not “vulgar or overtly suggestive in nature,” and that dances “must be appropriate and not sexually suggestive."

 

December 16, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Nadine Barlow of Northern Arizona University reveals why some craters on Mars have resisted erosion. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 16, 2013

California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obipso announced Thursday that one of its students has been diagnosed with meningitis. The student lives off campus and officials said that they did not believe there was a problem with broad exposure on campus. The announcement comes as officials at Princeton University and the University of California at Santa Barbara grapple with multiple cases of meningitis at their institutions. Princeton gave vaccines to thousands last week. The vaccines are not the standard ones used in the United States, but a new version for a strain that is showing up at Princeton. Santa Barbara officials are considering whether they should offer the same vaccine, The Los Angeles Times reported.

December 16, 2013

Charles M. Vest, who was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1990 until 2004, died Thursday at the age of 72. Vest, who after he left MIT became president of the National Academy of Engineering, had been fighting pancreatic cancer. Vest was widely credited with a highly successful presidency, and with being an eloquent national advocate for science. While Vest led MIT, the institute launched a project (seen by many as the precursor of the massive open online course movement) in which all course materials were made available online and free. He also supported female professors at MIT who produced a report on the obstacles facing women at the institute, and Vest's endorsement led the institute to adopt many of their proposals. A full obituary from MIT may be found here.

December 16, 2013

Members of the American Studies Association have voted to endorse a resolution backing the academic boycott of Israel. Out of a total of 1,252 votes, 66.05 percent of members endorsed the resolution, 30.5 percent rejected it, and 3.43 percent abstained. The association’s elected National Council had previously endorsed the resolution before turning the question over to members for an association-wide vote.

The American Studies Association is the second major American scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to endorse the boycott of Israeli universities. A full story from Inside Higher Ed will appear tomorrow.

 

December 13, 2013

Yeshiva University this week announced plans for deep budget cuts, the continuation of cuts to faculty retirement accounts and the sale of some buildings owned by the university, The Jewish Daily Forward reported. Like many universities, Yeshiva lost a considerable share of its endowment after the economic downturn started in 2008. But Yeshiva also lost about $100 million due to investments with Bernard Madoff. And the university has been sued for millions by men who say that, as boys, they were abused at the university's high school -- and that officials ignored the problem. In October, Moody's Investors Service Moody's Investors Service downgraded the university's bond rating to Baa2 from Baa1, citing "the university's weak liquidity with a full draw on operating lines of credit, expected covenant breach on lines of credit, deep operating deficits driving negative cash flow, and uncertainty regarding the outcome of litigation."

December 13, 2013

Continued, mandatory tenure systems for law professors got a high-profile vote of support recently from two past presidents of the Association of American Law Schools. Robert A. Gorman, professor emeritus of law at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elliot S. Milstein, professor of law at American University, sent a letter to the American Bar Association in favor of its current requirement that law schools offer professors a system of earning tenure as a condition of accreditation. That stipulation has come under fire in recent years, and it is now under review by the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. The reviewing council has asked for comment on several proposed alternatives to that requirement, one of which does away with does away with the tenure requirement entirely. Another requires enough “security of position” for faculty to ensure academic freedom and quality recruitment, but does not require tenure as it is traditionally understood. In their letter, Gorman and Milstein argue that it is a necessary condition of employment, given the unpopular positions law school faculty members must argue. Judges and civil servants enjoy tenure-like conditions, they argue, and those who disapprove of tenure frequently misunderstand it. It’s a not a guaranteed job for life, they say, but a means of attracting and retaining top educators.

In an email, Milstein said: “As both teachers and scholars, law professors often play an important role in a society built on the rule of law, to be critical of injustice and advocate for change. Furthermore, clinical professors and their students represent clients whose positions are sometimes unpopular with the powerful. Internally, law school governance is often a process in which what will be taught, how it will be taught, to whom, and by whom are contentious issues. Decisions about what is valued in a law school have an effect on the nature of the legal profession and concomitantly upon law itself.”

In addition to the authors, 14 other past presidents of the Association of American Law Schools have signed on. Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education at the ABA, said the council had received the letter and added it to a growing list of feedback on the tenure proposals. The council is expected to vote on the matter at either its March or June meetings, he said.

 

December 13, 2013

About 2,500 applicants to Fordham University were incorrectly told this week that they had been admitted, when in reality 500 of them had been rejected and another 2,000 had been deferred, The New York Times reported. The notification came with information about financial aid notices and arrived two days before the applicants had expected to hear from the university. The emails came from Student Aid Services, a contractor working with the university. Both the company and the university have apologized and said that they are trying to figure out what happened.

 

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