Higher Education Quick Takes
Westminster College, in Missouri, announced plans Monday to open a campus in the fall of 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. The college plans to offer majors in international business, environmental studies and transnational studies. Mesa has been encouraging colleges from elsewhere to set up programs in the area.
The Aspen Institute on Monday released a list of 120 community colleges that made the cut to be considered for the second annual Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which comes with a $1 million payout. The institute changed its criteria for evaluating community college performance, and this year's list includes 40 different institutions, meaning one-third of last year's eligible colleges were bumped. The process is based on graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates and "equity in student outcomes." Josh Wyner, executive director of the institute's College Excellence program, said the formula was tweaked to better reflect steady performance rather than short-term spikes in numbers. The institute plans to name 10 finalists in September.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison has agreed to change the language in a letter it sends to accepted graduate students, following a complaint that one part of the letter was deceptive, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The letter references a stipend and tuition waivers, and the wording that has been questioned also pledged "an additional year of support" for completing a master's degree. What the letter didn't reference was that the additional year involved a smaller stipend and a requirement to work as a teaching assistant.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cited Kean University for rules violations including impermissible financial aid and extra benefits to athletes. According to the public infractions report, the former women’s basketball head coach is responsible for “a significant number” of the violations that took place from 2007-11, including cash payments and a grade change that allowed an otherwise ineligible student to compete. But because of more widespread violations of financial aid rules, the university’s self-imposed penalties included 2011-12 postseason bans for the men’s and women’s soccer teams and the women’s volleyball team, as well as a 2012-13 postseason ban for the women’s basketball team. The former basketball coach, Michele Sharp, has been placed under a four-year “show-cause penalty,” meaning that any institution that wants to hire her must demonstrate to the NCAA why the penalties against her should not be carried over. The team vacated all records from last season, including its NCAA tournament appearance. Kean itself was cited for a lack of institutional control and a failure to monitor the sports program, and is on four years’ probation.
In its report, the NCAA Committee on Infractions also issued a warning to other colleges in Division III, whose member institutions may not award financial aid based on athletic ability. Kean allowed prospective students to list extracurricular activities including athletics on their scholarship applications, the report says, “resulting in athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance being considered as a criterion for the awarding of financial aid,” and it awarded financial aid to athletes at disproportionate rates. “All member institutions are put on notice that, from this point forward, the committee will consider imposing significantly harsher sanctions when these cases are brought to us in the future,” the report says.
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is mourning the death of President Matt Branam, who suffered a medical emergency in his office Friday morning and died shortly after he was rushed to a hospital. Branam was named president in 2009, after first serving several months as interim president. He spent most of his career in the corporate and nonprofit worlds before returning to his alma mater to serve as interim president. The Indianapolis Star noted that Branam had wide support on the campus and among alumni, and that many hoped he would bring stable leadership to Rose-Hulman, which saw several short-term presidencies between 2004 and Branam's arrival.
Governor Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, on Friday signed legislation to create Florida Polytechnic as a freestanding university, The Miami Herald reported. The campus has been a branch of the University of South Florida. Many higher education leaders in Florida have questioned the wisdom of creating a new university when the state is having difficulty supporting existing institutions. But Scott said that the new university's emphasis on mathematics, science and engineering fields will "generate a positive return on investment."
Assumption College officials say that a senior who is backing Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in July, will not be on campus "for the forseeable future," the Associated Press reported. Administrators said that they are reviewing the record of Kevin Forts, who has been writing letters of support for Breivik, and who was also arrested for an alleged assault on campus this year. Forts was quoted in a video interview as saying that the deaths of children Breivik killed in his massacre were "a necessary political sacrifice that is not necessary again." And Forts called on people to pay attention not to Breivik's "atrocious actions," but to his political platform. Forts said people need to look at Breivik’s political platform, "rather than his atrocious actions." Forts said of Breivik: "He’s fighting against cultural Marxism and an Islamization of Norway, and he found that the most rational ... way to accomplish that was through terrorist actions on Utoya and in Oslo."
A fraternity member at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is facing expulsion from Delta Tau Delta and a college investigation after he marched around campus in camouflage waving a Confederate flag, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
A university employee took a video of the incident after she was disturbed to see the fraternity parade past her office. The march was apparently an effort to raise money for military veterans. A screen shot from that video published by the Journal Star shows two men leading a group of at least 20 people. Another person in the march is waving an American flag, and several appear to be wearing camo.
A chapter spokesman told the Journal Star that the Confederate flag was destroyed and that the march lasted less than five minutes.The spokesman expects that student to be expelled from Delta Tau Delta. The university's judicial affairs department is investigating, as is the national office of Delta Tau Delta.
Scholars of Dracula gathered last week at two academic conference in Britain to mark the centenary of the death of Bram Stoker. Times Higher Education reported that attendees expressed concern that American obsessions with vampires are hurting understanding of the relevant Victorian literature. Clive Bloom, emeritus professor of English and American literature at Middlesex University, said that "Gothic studies have become institutionalized and safe. We need to return to a more visceral and scary notion of the Gothic. We need to stop using Freud and go back to de Sade – it’s all about perversity and the will to power." Bloom also said that the "Americanization of the vampire," as reflected in the Twilight books, was unfortunate. In those books, Bloom said, "the dangerous violent aristocrat has become the dark boy no one talks to and who’s eternally 17."