Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 19, 2013

Brandeis University on Monday suspended its partnership with Al-Quds University, citing the failure of leaders at the Palestinian university to condemn a recent protest in which demonstrators used the traditional Nazi salute and honored "martyred" suicide bombers. In a statement on its website, Brandeis said that President Frederick Lawrence had acted after asking the president of Al-Quds to issue an "unequivocal condemnation" of the protests. But the statement published on the Al-Quds website -- an English translation of which the president of Al-Quds, Sari Nusseibah, sent to Brandeis -- criticized "Jewish extremists" who "spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University," as well as calling for a respectful campus environment. Brandeis called the statement "unacceptable and inflammatory," and said it would suspend the relationship with Al-Quds.





November 18, 2013

Taylor Ashton Davis, a student at Kirkwood Community College, has been charge with assaulting a professor with whom she apparently had a relationship, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. She was also charged with assaulting a police officer who came to campus amid a report that student was "hitting a professor." The professor, who was not named in the police report, told authorities that he had been “in an intimate relationship that he tried to end about one year ago but has been somewhat ongoing,” according to the complaint. Kirkwood says that its faculty members “are not to develop relationships of a romantic or sexual nature with a student who is currently enrolled in his/her class or program, a student who is current receiving guidance/coaching from him/her, or an employee he/she is currently supervising.” No information was available on whether the student was enrolled in the professor's courses.


Taylor Ashton Davis
November 18, 2013

The squeeze that research universities are feeling because of federal budget cuts may put their credit ratings at risk, Moody's Investor Services said Friday. The rating agency did not formally change its outlook on research universities but did warn that the budget reductions, known as sequestration, are a negative development for the creditworthiness of those institutions. “Increasing pressure on federal research funding is credit negative for research universities, especially those with less-established records that will likely be less successful in securing grants in the current strained environment,” Moody’s wrote in its weekly credit outlook report. “Many universities built up their research infrastructure, both physical and faculty, in the mid-2000s, expecting increasing grants and contracts would cover the cost of their investments,” the report adds. “Now that the anticipated funding is constrained, some universities will struggle to cover the increased fixed costs, resulting in weakening operating performance.”

Moody’s cited a survey released this week that found 70 percent of large research universities had experienced funding reductions or delayed research projects due to sequestration.

Higher education and research advocates have said the sequester budget cuts, which first took effect in March, are severely detrimental to scientific discovery and the nation’s economic competitiveness. College presidents and their lobbyists in Washington are pressing lawmakers to end sequestration, which will trigger another round of across-the-board cuts in mid-January unless Congress acts to stop it. 

November 18, 2013

Rutgers University at New Brunswick, which faced a major scandal this year over a videotape showing its basketball coach mistreating players, is now being accused of failing to deal with against the defensive coordinator on its football team, NJ.com reported. A former football player and his parents say that Dave Cohen, defensive coordinator, found him in a study hall, called him a "pussy" and a "bitch," and threatened to head-butt him. Rutgers says that Cohen apologized and was reprimanded and that it thought the matter had been resolved to the player's parents' satisfaction -- statements they are now contesting.


November 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Elena Mastors of American Public University explains the value of understanding the psychological profile of adversarial leaders in armed conflicts. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 18, 2013

A faculty member at Hocking College, in Ohio, has been barred from campus as authorities believe he may be a threat to three other faculty members, The Athens Messenger reported. The campus was informed of the ban and threats Thursday afternoon, and leaflets posted on campus include the faculty members name and photograph. The Messenger said it could not reach the man who was named as the threat.


November 18, 2013

Bob Jones University, an evangelical institution that bars any sex outside of heterosexual marriage, devoted last week's four chapel services to gay issues. The decision to do so prompted much speculation and debate on social media. Randy Page, director of public relations at the university, said via email that the decision to focus on same-sex attraction came at the request of students. During one of the services, Stephen Jones, president of Bob Jones, told the students about a "totally inappropriate letter" received by one student who may be gay. Jones told "the student body that the sentiments expressed represented nothing of the spirit of Christ and would not be accepted here," Page said.

BJUnity, a group promoting equity for gay students at Bob Jones, called the chapel services "a farce," and noted that the university has never apologized for hostile statements made in the past by university leaders.


November 18, 2013

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association on Friday called off its football championship game for the year after the quarterback for Winton-Salem State University was allegedly assaulted by players for Virginia State University, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. One Virginia State player has been arrested and Winston-Salem officials said that more may have been involved. A statement from the conference said that it has barred the Virginia State football team from postseason play. Keith Miller, president of Virginia State, issued this statement: "Virginia State University has indefinitely suspended a member of the VSU football team. Further, VSU will pursue a thorough internal investigation into Friday’s incident of which the findings and recommendations will be reported directly to me. We will include both students and alumni in this internal investigation process. Based on the report, further disciplinary action may be forthcoming. Playing on a VSU athletic team is a privilege. Student-athletes who fail to live up to the ideals of our institution will forfeit that privilege. We have a zero tolerance policy toward acts of violence, on or off campus, and we take that policy very seriously."



November 18, 2013

Federal authorities have given Princeton University permission to use Bexsero, a vaccine against meningitis not yet approved for general use in the United States, The New York Times reported. Seven people at Princeton have come down with a strain of meningitis in the last year, and that strain is not covered by the vaccination approved for use in the United States. Princeton is considering the use of Bexsero, and has also started a number of other efforts, such as discouraging students at parties from sharing the same cups.


November 15, 2013

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate seeks to tackle the rising cost of textbooks by giving states an incentive to experiment with open educational resources. The Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken, Democrats of Illinois and Minnesota, respectively, would create a grant program that would fund the creation of new textbooks -- as long as they are made available for free online.

Durbin previously had parts of a similar bill included in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, though those provisions only required publishers and higher education institutions to inform students about the cost of textbooks. 

Dean Florez, president of the 20 Million Minds Foundation, said the bill, coupled with first lady Michelle Obama's new focus on access to higher education, represents "a groundswell for a national discussion for the cost of textbooks." While he expressed some concerns about the bill's chances in the U.S. House of Representatives, Florez said "Durbin’s bill is going straight to the president."


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