Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 25, 2014

Three students at Palomar College, in California, were killed in a car crash late Thursday, and five others were injured, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. All eight students were from Japan, and all were in a single car.

August 25, 2014

The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has voted not to extend the contract of President Ronald Mason, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported. Earlier, Mason had said that he would not stay on unless the board committed itself to a plan for improving the system, and the board didn't approve his plan. Mason has said that significant changes are needed at Southern, but board members have questioned whether his plans are detailed enough and faculty members have said that the system office is trying to run campus operations.

August 25, 2014

Peter Salovey, Yale University's president, used his welcoming speech to freshmen on Saturday to encourage them to respect free expression, particularly in the context of an academic environment. "In the last year or two, we have seen more than the usual number of events on college and university campuses across this country in which the freedom to express ideas has been threatened. Invitations to provocative speakers have been withdrawn; politicians, celebrities, and even university presidents invited to deliver commencement addresses have -- under pressure -- declined to speak to graduates; student protesters have had their signs destroyed by other members of a campus community," Salovey said. "In the most troubling of these 'free speech' incidents, speakers of various political persuasions have been shouted down and rendered unable to deliver remarks to campus groups who had invited them. Although we have not seen these kinds of episodes at Yale in recent decades, it is important on occasions like this one to remind ourselves why unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.

Salovey recounted how Yale in the past responded to an incident in 1974 in which a speaker (William B. Shockley, the physicist who become a eugenics advocate who suggested that black population growth was a problem) was shouted down. After the incident, Yale appointed the historian C. Vann Woodward to lead a panel that produced a report affirming the importance of protecting free expression -- even ideas such as Shockley's that angered many people.

In his address, Salovey closed by saying: "[T]he right to free expression does not relieve us of the obligation to think before we speak. That obligation is a responsibility that we willingly assume as members of a community where mutual respect and caring are salient values. Nonetheless, I recognize that all of us here, in different ways, might also like to live in a campus community where nothing provocative and hurtful is ever said to anyone. And that is the part that I cannot -- nor should not -- promise you. For if we are not willing to be shocked, then we may not be allowing ourselves to be open to life-changing ideas, ideas that rock our worlds. And isn’t the opportunity to engage with those very ideas -- whether to embrace them or dispute them -- the reason why you chose Yale?"

August 25, 2014

As part of a deal with its faculty union, the University of Saskatchewan has agreed to end the right of the president to veto tenure decisions, The Star Phoenix reported. Faculty at the university see the veto as antithetical to academic freedom. The agreement comes in the wake of numerous disputes over the relative power of administrators and faculty members at the Canadian university.


August 25, 2014

The University of Arizona has announced that, with a $9 million gift for an endowment, the institution will create a college of veterinary medicine. Such institutions are rare in the United States -- the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges lists only 30 members. Most are at land-grant universities. Getting into vet school is highly competitive anywhere, but it is particularly difficult for those in states without vet schools, as most of the public institutions favor residents. The Arizona announcement noted that the veterinary college at Colorado State University, in a neighboring state to Arizona, receives 1,600 applicants for 138 seats, only 55 of which are open to those from outside Colorado, and only a few of which typically go to those from Arizona.


August 25, 2014

The University of Colorado at Boulder has rejected a plan to use spellings consistent with the Arapaho tribe for the names of two dormitories, The Daily Camera reported. Supporters wanted to use the language of the tribe to name the buildings Nowoo3 Hall and Houusoo Hall. A spokesman for the university said: "While some faculty members expressed their preference to use the Arapaho language, the CU-Boulder administration has remained committed to the original proposal of using the English spellings. We believe these names will be more easily recognized and referenced to by students, visitors and emergency responders."

August 25, 2014

Plymouth State University, in New Hampshire, has ended a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. A statement from the university said that it will continue to place the most emphasis on applicants' high school performance.


August 25, 2014

The National Collegiate Athletic Association filed a notice of appeal Thursday, repeating its stance that the association violated no antitrust laws when it prevented college athletes from profiting on the use of their names and likenesses. Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled against the NCAA in a class action filed by a former college basketball player named Ed O'Bannon. The ruling will allow institutions to pay athletes up to $5,000 above the full cost of attendance if they wish to do so. Those payments are capped at that amount per year, and would be held in a trust fund until the students have completed their athletic eligibility.

At the NCAA's request, Judge Claudia Wilken clarified earlier in the week that those benefits would not begin until the 2016-17 academic year.

"In its decision, the Court acknowledged that changes to the rules that govern college athletics would be better achieved outside the courtroom, and the NCAA continues to believe that the Association and its members are best positioned to evolve its rules and processes to better serve student-athletes," Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief legal officer, stated. "The reform conversation began long before this lawsuit and the changes announced earlier this month are evidence of the NCAA continually working to improve the student-athlete experience."

August 25, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Stefan Sarafianos, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri, discusses his research on how compounds present in soy may be effective in helping resist the HIV virus. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


August 22, 2014

California's Legislature on Thursday approved legislation that would allow 15 of the state's community college districts to issue four-year degrees. Governor Jerry Brown now will consider the bill, which would make California one of more than 20 states that have enacted similar legislation. It would allow the group of two-year colleges to begin offering bachelor's degrees next year in a limited number of programs that have a high demand in the workforce, including dental hygiene, radiologic technology, health information science and automotive technology.

The chancellor of the state's community college system, Brice Harris, last year convened a group to consider the move. Constance M. Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, served on the committee and supported the legislation.

"In cases where businesses, health care organizations and other industries now require a bachelor's degree at their entry level, it is imperative that community colleges step forward to ensure the competitiveness of our students," Carroll said in a written statement. "That is a win-win proposition for our students, for employers, and for the economy.”


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