Higher Education Quick Takes
Amid reports that ducks that Lynn University had removed from its campus were subsequently killed, the university is pledging to never again use the contractor that handled the relocation. The university said that it had to remove the ducks, which are not native to the area, because of the mess they were making on university property and because of their impact on the campus ecosystem. Officials said that they tried many measures -- such as asking students to stop feeding them -- to discourage the duck population from remaining. And the university said that it believed that the ducks would simply be relocated alive. But in response to reports that the ducks were killed, the university posted a statement in which it said that some ducks were turned over by a contractor to third parties and that their fate can't be determined. In a post to the university's Facebook page, officials said that some had been destroyed.
Many students said that they are outraged -- and that the ducks should have been permitted to stay. Some are advocating calling animal rights groups. One student called the university's actions "despicable and disgusting." One angry person wrote: "You know, a lot of the students are rather messy and leave their trash laying about waiting for someone else to clean up their mess. Do we relocate the students or should we make them responsible for their actions? Leave the ducks alone but maybe teach the students about cleaning up after themselves."
Domaine Javier, who identifies as female although she is biologically male, was expelled this fall by California Baptist University, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university declined to comment about the case, but university documents sent to Javier accuse her of engaging in fraud by concealing her identity. Javier told the newspaper that she believed she was being truthful when she told the university she is female, and that she has identified that way since she was a toddler. "I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. "They said, 'On your application form you put female.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that’s how I see myself.' "
The board of Southern University on Friday declared that the flagship campus at Baton Rouge is in a state of financial exigency, The Advocate reported. A similar vote failed in September, when several board members did not attend the meeting. Faculty groups and others have opposed the move, which makes it easier for the university to eliminate academic programs, tenured faculty positions, and more. But university leaders said that they needed flexibility to deal with budget cuts that have already been made by state officials in Louisiana, and more that are expected.
A jury on Friday awarded $4.1 million to Austin T. Wells for brain injuries he suffered after falling down an elevator shaft at an event sponsored by the University of Memphis in 2005, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The jury found the university 65 percent at fault and a gallery where the event was held 30 percent at fault, with Wells 5 percent responsible, and the funds provided to Wells will be provided in that proportion, minus the 5 percent. The university and the gallery owner had each blamed the other party for lack of supervision at the event.
The Pentagon on Friday pledged not to change tuition reimbursement policies for active duty military at this time. Cuts in benefits have been expected (and the Marine Corps indicated earlier in the month that it was ready to make cuts), causing concern to many active duty military members who are enrolled in various programs. The Pentagon announcement did not rule out future cuts, but said any changes would be made as part of a "holistic review of the military compensation package."
Several Republican presidential candidates (but not Mitt Romney or Rick Perry) spoke about education on Thursday at a forum sponsored by the College Board and News Corp. Herman Cain, who is currently leading in some polls of Republican voters, said that helping students afford a higher education is not a federal responsibility, Politico reported. "I believe that if a state wants to help with college education, that they should do that," he said. "Secondly, you have people living within communities within states that are willing to help fund those kinds of programs. So I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the federal government to help fund a college education because herein, our resources are limited and I believe that the best solution is the one closest to the problem. The people within the state, the people within the communities, ultimately, I believe, are the ones who have that responsibility."
Representative Michele Bachmann used the forum to criticize President Obama for his plan to reduce the size and duration of some payments on student loans. The Associated Press reported that she said the president was exceeding his authority with the plan, and that there was a "moral hazard" in relieving people of debts that they have accumulated.
David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba, on Thursday became the first Canadian university president to formally apologize for the residential schools that were formerly used in the country to educate many Native Canadians, with the goal of assimilating them into the dominant white culture. Barnard made his apology in a statement to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He noted that the university did not run the schools, but said that did not remove all responsibility for the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate," said Barnard. "Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry."
Trustees at Shorter University, a Baptist institution in Georgia, have voted to add a formal faith statement for the first time, as well as a "personal lifestyle statement" for all university employees that requires them to be members of a local church and and reject all sexual activity "not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."
Such requirements are not uncommon at Christian colleges, and have been a policy at Shorter for many years, vice president for public relations Dawn Tolbert wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. Still, the written statements are a first for Shorter, which also added a document on "the integration of faith and learning" that requires faculty and staff members to submit annual plans on how they will integrate their faith with their working life, as well as a philosophy on Christian education. They are part of an effort to brand the college as a more "intentionally Christian university," Tolbert said.
The University of Idaho on Thursday revealed that it had received multiple complaints about Ernesto Bustamante, the psychology professor who killed himself this year shortly after killing a graduate student with whom he had a relationship, the Associated Press reported. The university on Thursday released extensive documents about Bustamante and also announced it was reviewing its policies on relationships between faculty members and students. Bustamante told the university he was bipolar shortly after he was hired, but he also indicated that he was receiving appropriate treatment and medication. Duane Nellis, the university president, said at a press briefing that the university cannot dismiss people for being bipolar. "We, as an institution when we hire people, we’re not allowed to ask for medical conditions, or anything like that," Nellis said. "Bipolar is something that’s certainly treatable."