Higher Education Quick Takes
Governor Rick Scott on Thursday called for the board of Florida A&M University to suspend James Ammons as president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The Florida A&M board reprimanded Ammons this week, but stopped short of suspending him, amid an investigation into a hazing-related death of a student from the university's marching band. The governor's announcement came shortly after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that it was investigating "fraud and/or misconduct" in connection with its inquiry into the student's death. Ammons has said that he is working hard to prevent hazing.
A committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature has recommended expanding the reach of two-year colleges in rural counties, and has proposed a new state institution that would include multiple campuses or learning centers. The Pennsylvania Commission on Community Colleges isn't sold on the idea, arguing that its members already offer the services the proposed college would. The commission also questioned whether a new institution would be the "best use of the state's limited funds."
The University of Vermont has suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity over reports that it circulated a survey in which it asked members about their preferred rape victims, The Burlington Free Press reported. Fraternity members did not respond to requests for comment, but the national office of the fraternity said it was launching an investigation.
A day after campus outcry reported by Inside Higher Ed prompted Chancellor Timothy P. White to announce he would appoint and chair a task force to review and possibly revise a new set of extensive and unusual guidelines regulating protests at the University of California at Riverside, he do we know that it's "he", rather than the U? also, should we take a little credit for this? "after Inside Higher Ed reported..."? dl *** haha, I did think of that, but you're probably not terribly surprised that I didn't go for it... added. And in the letter he says that he ordered the removal of the document. -ag removed the document altogether from the university’s policies and procedures web page. As of late Tuesday, nearly 900 people had signed a petition demanding the immediate removal of the guidelines (the petition is no longer active).
White essentially put a moratorium on the rules Wednesday; the document will still be reviewed by a group of students, faculty and staff in the New Year, but is not in effect in the interim. In a letter to the campus, White admitted that the guidelines were misdirected but also pointed out that he and Riverside have accommodated spontaneous demonstrations in the past, and suggested that some of the anger evident in the petition stemmed from misunderstanding. In interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, a university spokesman, James Grant, said the guidelines were never intended to apply to spontaneous protests, only to demonstrations and events capable of being planned the two weeks to a month in advance that the rules required.
“It is clear that the document does not accurately reflect UC Riverside’s demonstrated commitment to free expression and peaceful, non-violent protest. We were in error to post guidelines that neither comport with our values nor reflect the realities of how the campus exercises the right to free speech,” White wrote. “I regret any confusion and discontent caused by the document. The document and its posting were not worthy of this great university.”
The University of California at Berkeley announced a new plan for middle class California families sending their children to the university. Under the plan, those with family incomes of $80,000 to $140,000 would have to pay only 15 percent of that income to go to Berkeley. The plan is similar to those in place at many elite private colleges, but Berkeley officials believe it is unique at a public institution. Berkeley officials said that they believed existing aid programs worked well for those from low incomes, but that those with slightly more money found it increasingly difficult to pay for college.
Every four years, articles appear explaining Iowa to people elsewhere in the United States trying to understand the state that plays such a crucial role in selecting the president of the United States. This year one such article, "Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life," ran in The Atlantic, written by Stephen G. Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa. He describes how parts of the state are quite liberal, but how other parts are quite conservative, and he notes the role of religion, guns and other powerful forces among some Iowans. The response has been intense -- not only comments on the magazine's website but phone calls that Bloom told The Des Moines Register made him fear for the safety of his family. University of Iowa officials are speaking out to say that Bloom does not represent their views of the state.
In Iowa City, the university's home (and generally considered a liberal stronghold), a custom T-shirt store is thrilled with the controversy, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. A new T-shirt responds to Bloom by saying: "Iowa: If you’re reading this congratulations! You’ve survived meth, Jesus, hunting accidents, crime-filled river slums, and old people. Unfortunately, you are going to die sad and alone soon."
The basic federal rules for protecting the human subjects of research studies are sound and do not need major changes, according to a report issued by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The commission was charged by President Obama with reviewing those rules in the wake of reports about research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 that intentionally exposed thousands of Guatemalans to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent. "The commission is confident that what happened in Guatemala in the 1940s could not happen today," said a statement from Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission and president of the University of Pennsylvania. While the basic system works, the commission said, some changes could improve it. The panel called for more data to be collected about studies with human subjects. And the commission suggested studying systems for compensating those injured in studies.
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has forwarded to an administrative law judge a proposal to permit the unionization of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move is a win for union advocates. Opponents of the union had wanted the commission to shut down the union drive based on past rulings that the graduate students are students, not employees. But the commission said that these were issues for the judge to consider.
Wayne State University, which has had graduation rates in the 30 percent range in recent years, is considering a plan to toughen admissions standards, The Detroit Free Press reported. About 5 percent of current students would not have been admitted under the proposed system, which would give some applicants the option of earning admission by doing well in a summer "bridge" program. Critics fear that the applicants excluded are likely to be low-income, minority Detroit residents.