Higher Education Quick Takes
Monday was the 101st anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth -- and Young America's Foundation marked the occasion with release of a national poll suggesting that professors have yet to give the Gipper his rightful place in history. "Americans rate Ronald Reagan as the greatest president, but try telling that to professors on our nation’s campuses. In a recent survey, 60 percent of college professors did not even rank President Reagan among the top ten presidents," said a press release on the poll results. Further, not one of the 284 faculty members surveyed named Reagan as the top president. (President Lincoln had the most support for that spot.) At the same time, the foundation noted that 61 percent of professors said Reagan had been successful, a level of praise that the foundation said was significant give that "the leftist tilt of college professors is well known."
A student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has confessed to writing the racial threats (including a hit list of students) that terrified the campus last week, TMJ4 News reported. The student had discovered a grouping of rubber bands that she took to be a noose and reported that discovery. The student told authorities that she was not satisfied with the investigation of the reported noose, so she made the threatening notes. Those notes prompted heightened security and several meetings on the campus.
The National Endowment for the Humanities on Monday named Wendell Berry -- a poet, novelist and essayist with a focus on conservation issues -- as the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer. Berry will deliver the lecture on April 23 in Washington. The lecture, "It All Turns on Affection," will discuss human interaction with nature, as depicted in history, philosophy, and literature.
- Paul M. Bobrowski, associate professor and former dean of the College of Business at Auburn University, in Alabama, has been named dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Dayton, in Ohio.
- Jack Cline, assistant vice president for federal relations at the University of Massachusetts System, has been chosen as director of federal relations at the University of Kansas.
- Thomas W. Durso, senior director of marketing and communications at Holy Family University, in Pennsylvania, has been appointed as associate vice president for college relations and marketing at Albright College, also in Pennsylvania.
- Tracie MacMahon, vice president for marketing and client relations at the National Student Clearinghouse, in Virginia, has been promoted to chief operating officer there.
- Chip Paucek, president and chief operating officer at 2tor Inc., in New York, has been named chief executive officer there.
- Robert J. Pietrykowski, assistant vice president for human resources and chief negotiator at Cleveland State University, in Ohio, has been selected as vice president of human resources at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida.
Nearly half of the for-profit colleges in California are being kicked out of a state student aid program because of their default rates, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Under a California law, those with three-year loan default rates of 24.6 percent or higher are barred from having their students receive Cal Grants. About 4,900 Cal Grant recipients were enrolled at this colleges when the law took effect in the fall. Those who had been previously enrolled were allowed a partial grant.
Every bowl season features pundits debating a playoff for big-time college football. But a more serious challenge may be emerging from the Big Ten. The Chicago Tribune reported that Big Ten officials are talking about a plan in which the top four football teams would be removed from the Bowl Championship Series, and would instead have a playoff. The semifinal games would be played at the higher seeded institution of the two pairs. The site of the championship would be bid out. The Big Ten idea emerges amid concern among many in college football about low ratings for this year's championship game and a noted lack of excitement among fans about many bowl games.
Protests against Sallie Mae's $50 "forbearance fees," which the lender charges to borrowers who cannot pay their loans and opt to let the funds accumulate interest, unpaid, rather than defaulting, have spread to Facebook. Thursday, Sallie Mae changed its policy after a petition to end the fees gained more than 75,000 signatures: after the borrowers have begun repaying the loan, the $50 fee will be applied against the loan's balance rather than pocketed by the company.
But that wasn't enough for many who wanted to see the fees vanish entirely, and many commented on the Facebook page for Sallie Mae's Upromise accounts asking that the policy be changed. The company later removed the Facebook posts, according to before and after screenshots. The "before" screenshot was provided by Change.org, the website where the petition started. (By Monday evening, more comments had appeared. Sallie Mae representatives did not respond to a request for comment from Inside Higher Ed.)
A documentary on CBC television has accused McGill University of taking money for many years from the asbestos industry, and of supporting research seen as favorable to that industry, The Montreal Gazette reported. Dozens of public health researchers have responded to the broadcast by sending letters asking McGill to sever ties to the industry and to reveal more about the funding that the university received. A statement from the university on Friday said: “McGill University has the highest standards of research ethics, and the integrity and scientific value of research carried out at the university is of primary importance. When concerns are occasionally expressed about research ethics, we rely on a rigorous process of investigation.”
Some faculty members at the University of Oxford are objecting to a plan to name a new business school building for Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, The Telegraph reported. The donor for the building has indicated that he wants the facility to honor Thatcher, but some professors are threatening to force a full faculty vote to block the name. Thatcher did not fare well in a previous vote by the full faculty -- in 1985 -- to reject a proposal to give her an honorary degree.