Higher Education Quick Takes
Last week, faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences rejected a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that the compromise is widely viewed as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, the Faculty Council (an elected faculty body representing all of the university's units) issued a statement of support for Wagner. "We acknowledge the hurt to our community caused by President James Wagner’s use of the three-fifths compromise clause in his column in the Winter, 2013, issue of the Emory Magazine. He has sincerely apologized for this mistake in multiple venues, and he has held many listening sessions to hear concerns from the community. We as the University Faculty Council accept his apology. While his words were insensitive, they were not malicious in intent, and discussion of them has revealed failures throughout our community to live up to the diverse and inclusive ideal to which we aspire," said the statement.
It went on to describe Wagner's use of the three-fifths example as "particularly unfortunate because it detracts from many endeavors Emory University has initiated under his leadership. Emory has apologized for the role of slavery in building the institution, hosted the 'Slavery and the University' conference, which drew attendees from across the U.S., and created the Transforming Community Project in which people from across the university engaged with our history and current experiences of race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of human difference."
The Faculty Council's statement concluded: "We state our firm support for his continued leadership in the years ahead to continue the work yet to be done."
Officials of the Los Angeles Community College District are calling it a "rebalancing" plan, but student leaders and others aren't going along. The Los Angeles Times reported that the plan involves cutting the $1,500 monthly car allowance top administrators receive to $500, and then using the extra $1,000 a month to give raises to those administrators. The plan is based on the idea that the administrators are underpaid, compared to others in California. But student leaders and their backers say that the district shouldn't be paying top officials to drive to and from work, and that any savings should go to restoring some of the class sections that have been cut in recent years.
Students in Australia are protesting more than $2 billion in proposed cuts to higher education, which, according to Universities Australia, represents the largest funding reduction since the 1990s. hope to flesh this out slightly and add link if/when Universities Australia website comes back online
The Washington Post's Fact Checker column gave Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that prospective foreign students are being deterred by fears of gun violence a three-Pinocchio rating (out of four). The Post noted that although students from Japan (the specific country in question) are on the decline, the Institute of International Education’s analysis of the phenomenon does not cite concerns about student safety but rather “the effects of a rapidly aging Japanese population and other factors including the global economy and the recruiting cycle of Japanese companies.” Over all, the number of international students in the U.S. is on the rise.
The Post faulted Kerry for relying on mere anecdotal information and relaying it to a reporter.
Officials of the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina are talking about a merger, The Post and Courier reported. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley organized the discussions, and said that he believed the city needed a comprehensive research university.
Western Michigan University has called off a plan to build a new dining hall that would have required the destruction of hundreds of trees, MLive.com reported. Students and faculty members have been campaigning against the dining hall, and the university agreed to call off the original plan and look for alternatives. "As we studied the proposed site and plans for a new dining hall in the valley and received the final environmental assessment by our staff, it became clear that the project would have required the removal of more than 500 trees -- a far larger number than original estimates," said President John Dunn in an e-mail to the campus.
A Chinese graduate student at Boston University was the third victim of Monday's bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the university announced Tuesday. University officials said that the student, whom it did not identify pending approval from his family, was among a trio of B.U. students and friends who watched the end of the marathon from near the finish line. Another graduate student was injured and remains hospitalized, the university said. Boston-area colleges continued to report that some of their students were injured, including seven from Emerson College.
United States University, a for-profit institution has agreed to pay $686,720 to the government to settle a civil suit filed over the filing of fraudulent financial aid applications, KPBS reported Federal officials said that the case was notable because they had brought criminal and civil cases against the institution. Christina Miller, who was the director of financial aid, pleaded guilty to falsifying federal records (Pell Grant applications) and could face up to a year in prison. Officials of the university did not respond to requests for comment.