Oberlin College canceled classes and "non-essential activities" on campus Monday, after reports of a person walking near its Afrikan Heritage House in “a hood and robe resembling a Ku Klux Klan outfit.” College officials said they and the Oberlin Police Department are investigating the sighting, which follows a string of hate-related incidents on campus. Anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic graffiti appeared on multiple occasions last month, according to The Oberlin Review, and one student told public safety he was robbed and assaulted by a person who made derogatory ethnic remarks. Oberlin hosted a teach-in, “demonstration of solidarity,” and community convocation Monday afternoon in lieu of classes.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Edwin Mellen Press is dropping a wildly unpopular libel lawsuit against a university librarian, CBC News reported. Mellen sued Dale Askey, associate university librarian at McMaster University in Ontario, where he’s been working since 2011, over a blog post he wrote in August 2010, when he was at Kansas State University, that was highly critical of Mellen. The press says that it wants to focus on its authors and books and so is dropping the suit. Many scholarly and library groups were furious about the lawsuit and criticized Mellen for filing it.
The British Council has joined with Futurelearn, the United Kingdom’s homegrown MOOC (massive open online course) platform. Futurelearn now has 19 partners, including 17 U.K. universities, the British Library, and the British Council, which promotes British higher education internationally.
“The British Council has been bringing the UK’s education sector to people around the world for almost eighty years, so it’s very exciting that with Futurelearn we’re able to expand that to millions more people through the MOOC platform,” the organization’s chief executive, Martin Davidson, said in a statement. “We hope that our recognized experience in English language learning and delivering assessments and examinations in nearly a hundred countries will contribute to making Futurelearn even more attractive for ambitious learners around the world.”
Futurelearn marks the first significant entry of a foreign player into the MOOC market, which heretofore has been dominated by elite American universities. The first Futurelearn courses are expected to be offered later in 2013.
Ten of the former Florida A&M University band members who were charged in May with felony hazing for the death of drum major Robert Champion are now being charged with manslaughter, the Associated Press reported Monday. Prosecutors also said they have charged another two defendants with manslaughter. Champion died in November 2011 after other students on the university’s famed marching band, long plagued by a culture of hazing, “punched, kicked and suffocated” him on a bus during a trip.
Some Stanford University students are up in arms about a proposal to start some high-demand classes at 8:30 a.m., the San Jose Mercury News reported. More than 1,700 students have signed an online petition that calls the proposal -- which Stanford administrators hope will allow the university to use its facilities more efficiently -- "deplorable" and complains that students were not sufficiently consulted.
Connecticut's Manchester Community College has decided to end its three remaining sports programs, citing a desire to use the program's $370,000 annual costs for other purposes given its limited resources, the Hartford Courant reported. Manchester's decision, which President Gena Glickman said she made reluctantly given that athletics is an important "access point" for students who tend to graduate at a high rate, will leave Gateway Community College as the only two-year institution in the state with a sports program, down from nine two decades ago, the Courant said.
The board of the University of Virginia is once again taking steps that raise questions about micromanaging and undercutting President Teresa Sullivan, The Washington Post reported. The board and Sullivan recently exchanged drafts about the goals on which her performance will be evaluated. Helen Dragas, a board member who last year engineered the aborted move to oust Sullivan, gave Sullivan a highly detailed list of 65 goals. Sullivan responded by noting that university presidents typically receive broad goals from their boards, not detailed lists. Sullivan also responded -- according to e-mail messages the Post obtained -- by noting that 22 of Dragas's goals had not previously been discussed, that several required board action, and that one “requires me to do something that the General Counsel tells me I am not legally authorized to do.”
The chair of architecture at the University of Utah, Prescott Muir, has agreed to stay on, reversing his decision to leave the position, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Muir's departure was widely blamed by students and faculty members on Brenda Case Scheer, dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at Utah. She issued an apology for making decisions about Muir "without full information," and that apology cleared the way for Muir to stay on.