James F. Jones Jr. announced Monday that he will retire next year -- a year earlier than planned -- as president of Trinity College in Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reported. Jones has been under sustained criticism from many alumni since last year, when he announced that all fraternities and sororities would be forced to become coeducational. College officials characterized the retirement decision as unrelated to the Greek uproar, but the Courant reported that many alumni critics are dubious, given the extent of anger over the Greek decision.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has outlined new steps for verifying international students' visas at immigration checkpoints, according to an internal memo obtained by the Associated Press.
The changes are a response to the fact that a student from Kazakhstan charged with destroying evidence related to the Boston Marathon bombings was allowed to reenter the U.S. Jan. 20 despite the fact that he had been academically dismissed from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and his visa terminated. Currently, not all border agents have access to Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) data; information about visa status can only be verified when a student is referred to a second immigration officer for additional questioning. While the department works to correct this problem, new interim procedures call for checking students’ visa statuses pre-arrival based on information from flight manifests.
The board of the National Education Association, which represents college faculty members in addition to elementary and secondary school teachers, on Friday approved a new statement on digital learning that is likely to be adopted as official policy for the union by its Representative Assembly in July. The policy, which applies to both K-12 and higher education:
- Endorses "hybrid" teaching -- involving both technology and teachers -- as the best approach. "Optimal learning environments should neither be totally technology free, nor should they be totally online and devoid of educator interaction," the statement says.
- Calls for teachers to be centrally involved in decisions about how to use technology in classrooms.
- Says that "education employees should own the copyright to materials that they create in the course of their employment. There should be an appropriate 'teacher’s exception' to the 'works made for hire' doctrine, pursuant to which works created by education employees in the course of their employment are owned by the employee. This exception should reflect the unique practices and traditions of academia."
- Urges policy makers to consider the extent to which increased reliance on technology for learning may exacerbate inequities in the education system.
The Rev. Donald J. Harrington announced Friday that he is stepping down as president of St. John's University in New York. In his announcement, he said that he had been contemplating retirement for some time, having served as president for 24 years and having overseen numerous improvements at the university. But he also acknowledged -- without detail -- "the difficulties for everyone during the past year." Father Harrington has been the subject of much scrutiny and investigation since New York Magazine outlined a series of business ventures involving Father Harrington and his chief of staff, Rob Wile. St. John's has also been in the news over the trial of a former dean, Cecilia Chang, who was accused of defrauding the university and forcing international students to do personal work for her. Chang killed herself while on trial.
Japan is planning to offer scholarships for students at its universities to study abroad, The New York Times reported. The move is aimed to reverse a decline in the number of Japanese students who go abroad, and to make the country more competitive economically.
Alumni of Pennsylvania State University, who elect some members of the university's board, voted to unseat two incumbents, The Centre Daily Times reported. The three candidates elected (one seat was empty) were all backed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group formed by alumni who were angry over the dismissal of the late Joe Paterno as head football coach amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The results were announced as the Penn State board, consistent with the recommendations of an independent review, announced a series of changes in board structure, including the removal of the university president and state governor as voting members of the board, shrinking the size of the board, and creating a process for the removal of trustees.
When Richard Herman resigned as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (amid a scandal over admissions procedures that favored politically connected applicants), he was awarded a salary of $212,000 a year as he took on a faculty position. But an article in The Chicago Tribune raises questions about whether he is performing the full duties of a faculty member. Herman is required to teach only two classes a year in the College of Education, not the standard four a year. And his class this semester was called off due to low enrollment -- the second time that has happened since 2011, the Tribune said. Herman lives in Chicago and said through a university spokesman that he travels to campus once a week. Herman has switched to online courses when his classes have been canceled. He declined to comment on the questions raised by the article.
Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, on Saturday released an apology for comments he made about John Maynard Keynes. Ferguson said that Keynes didn't care about future generations because he was gay and did not have children. In a statement posted on his blog, Ferguson said that his comments were off-the-cuff and "as stupid as they were insensitive." Ferguson elaborated: "First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried. My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise."
Students and faculty members say that security officials at Providence College regularly engage in racial profiling, the Associated Press reported. Black and Latino students say that they are followed by campus security and required to produce identification in situations in which white students don't face similar demands. A college spokesman said that Providence has "moved swiftly" to deal with the concerns, and is requiring security staff members to go through "cultural competency" training.