Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Faculty at Yale-NUS College say they weren’t consulted on the American Association of University Professors’ recent open letter raising concerns about academic freedom at the Singapore-based institution. A response signed by 25 members of the Yale-NUS faculty states that no members of the AAUP consulted with them "about any of our own assessments of, concerns about, and active efforts to promote and secure (i) academic freedom; (ii) the rights of faculty, staff, and students; and (iii) shared faculty governance at Yale-NUS College." The letter invites the AAUP to consult with Yale-NUS faculty in the future. 

Yale University’s joint campus with the National University of Singapore has been a source of controversy in New Haven; in April, Yale College faculty approved a resolution expressing concern about Singapore's historical lack of respect for civil and political rights, and urging Yale to promote principles of non-discrimination and uphold civil and political liberties on campus and in the society at large.

Jill Campbell, a Yale professor of English who helps maintain a Web site on Yale and Singapore, said that members of the AAUP had access to that site and its extensive archive of public statements and documents on Yale-NUS, as well as news articles and op-eds from critics and supporters of the campus. “Thus, the members of the AAUP Committee had access to all the statements about Yale-NUS policies and positions that members of the Yale community, alumni, or the general public have access to,” she said.  

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Swarthmore College on Saturday announced a $50 million gift from Eugene Lang, an alumnus and philanthropist, for engineering and science facilities and for programs to link engineering and the liberal arts at the college. Swarthmore is unusual among liberal arts colleges in having an engineering program. The gift is the largest in Swarthmore's history.


Monday, December 10, 2012 - 4:11am

Online education appears to be a growing target for financial aid fraud, The Arizona Republic reported. Authorities have uncovered three schemes In the last three years at Rio Salado College, an online campus of the Maricopa Community Colleges, and those schemes involved hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has referred 850 potential fraud cases to federal authorities since 2009, and about 25 of those cases have been prosecuted.


Monday, December 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Chinese authorities closely monitor student organizations and use the power to deny recognition or interrogate members to send strong signals about topics or activities to avoid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Further, the oversight may become more intrusive. Xi Jinping, presumed to be China's future president, recently said that universities should increase "thought control" over students, adding that "university Communist Party organs must adopt firmer and stronger measures to maintain harmony and stability in universities."


Monday, December 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Campus police officers shot and killed a 38-year-old male graduate student at California State University at San Bernardino, The Press-Enterprise reported. Authorities said that the officers responded to a disturbance and that the man they shot became violent with officers before they shot him.

The Los Angeles Times reported that family members of the student said that he suffered from a mental disorder and had stopped taking his medication. The Times reported that during the altercation, the student was kicking one police officer in the head, was using police pepper spray against officers and was grabbing police batons.


Monday, December 10, 2012 - 3:00am

The president of the University of Colorado System and a member of Congress had an unusually public fight over the implications of the recent vote by Colorado residents to decriminalize the use of marijuana. And two students at the Boulder campus are alleged to have served pot-laced brownies to unknowing students and a professor -- an act for which they have been arrested.

The Denver Post reported that Bruce Benson, president of the university system, sent alumni an e-mail message Friday night in which he warned that the measure could cost the university $1 billion in federal funds because of the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires schools and colleges to ban illegal drugs (under federal statutes) from campuses. Benson was among those who urged Colorado voters (unsuccessfully as it turned out) not to decriminalize pot. The e-mail prompted U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, to take to Twitter, where he noted that the university has said that it won't allow pot use on campus -- and that the university maintains the right to enforce such bans. Polis write that Benson's claims were "FALSE," tweeting "Nothing in Amend64 requires CU let marijuana on campus" and "CU has made great progress in improving its reputation but President Benson jeopardizes it by pushing his personal opposition to Amend 64." A spokesman told Inside Higher Ed Sunday via e-mail that the university does believe that its ban on pot use on campus means that the institution is in compliance with federal law.

But even if Colorado decriminalizes marijuana, it is still illegal to serve pot-infused food to those who aren't aware of what they are eating. The University of Colorado at Boulder police department announced Sunday that two students there have been arrested for admitting that they served pot-laced brownies to a class on "bring food day" -- without telling the class what they were doing. The professor called police shortly after the class, complaining of dizziness and going in and out of consciousness. Two other students unaware of what they ate were hospitalized, one after an anxiety attack and the other after feeling like she was about to black out. The students who baked the brownies confirmed that they put marijuana in their batch, and they have been charged with four felonies each: assault in the second degree, inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means, conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree, and conspiracy to commit inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.


Friday, December 7, 2012 - 3:00am

In April, the Department of Defense said it would issue a revised version of the memorandum of understanding that colleges and universities must sign to participate in military tuition assistance programs in order to address concerns from some in higher education. On Thursday, after months of delay, a draft of the new version of the memorandum was officially announced.

The memorandum, first proposed in March 2011, was intended to crack down on abuses and raise the standard for participating in the military tuition assistance programs. But some selective institutions of higher education protested requirements that they conform to the principles of Servicemember Opportunity Colleges, a voluntary association. That would have required more lenient residency and transfer of credit requirements (such as giving credit for military training) than some colleges wanted to accept, and the American Council on Education argued that it would interfere with colleges' right to set their own academic policies. The new version requires that colleges either join the voluntary association or disclose their policies before service members enroll.

Institutions must sign the memorandum by March 1 in order to participate in tuition assistance programs.

Friday, December 7, 2012 - 4:34am

Utah's Dixie State College, founded in a part of the state that attracted settlers from the South who once dreamed of turning the area into a cotton-producing region, is debating whether its name suggests support for Confederate causes. While that debate continues, the university has removed a statue from campus that shows a Confederate soldier with the Confederate battle flag, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The statue has been the site of some rallies calling for the university to change its name. "The statue has become a lighting rod. We feel bad about that," said Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State. "It’s a beautiful piece of art. We are nervous something might happen to the statue. It might be vandalized."

Jerry Anderson, the Utah sculptor who created the work, told the Tribune that the university should not have removed it. "It looks like they have succumbed to the adversary," Anderson said. "They are a bunch of wusses. That’s the first action taken to get rid of it. The other people are winning. That’s the way it is in the world. We are giving in to people who really aren’t Americans."

Friday, December 7, 2012 - 3:00am

Faculty members at several universities in Ukraine say that they are being urged by their bosses to give low grades to students, Kyiv Post reported. The professors say that they have been told that the government doesn't have enough money for all the student stipends that have been awarded, and that low grades will disqualify some recipients. The Education Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.


Friday, December 7, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal district judge on Thursday upheld a bankruptcy court's ruling last summer that an accrediting agency had made false representations to the U.S. Education Department that helped lead to the demise of Decker College, a for-profit college that closed in 2005. The Council on Occupational Education had appealed the bankruptcy court's July 2012 decision to a federal district court in Kentucky, arguing that the bankruptcy judge had erred in concluding that the agency's officials had misled federal officials by reporting that Decker had delivered three of its programs online without the agency's approval. But Judge John G. Heyburn II's 13-page ruling said: "The bankruptcy court reasonably found COE to be dishonest when it told the department it did not approve the hybrid programs to be offered in such a manner."



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