Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 1, 2013

The University of California at Berkeley evacuated the campus Monday night after an explosion caused by a power system failure. One student with minor injuries was taken to the hospital, and four others with minor injuries declined to be hospitalized. Late Monday night, Berkeley officials told students they could return to housing units on campus. The power outage hit the campus at 4:40 p.m., and shortly after that evening classes were called off, and laboratories were told to shut down operations. About 20 people were stuck in various elevators on campus but they were all rescued by 8:30 p.m. The explosion took place about 6:40 p.m.

 

October 1, 2013

Accrediting agencies should no longer serve as gatekeepers to federal financial aid, argues a new report by Hank Brown, a former president of the University of Colorado and Republican U.S. senator. The current accreditation system squelches innovation, interferes with colleges' autonomy, and is riddled with conflicts of interest, Brown said in the report, which was co-sponsored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the American Enterprise Institute. In addition to separating eligibility for federal aid funding from accreditation, Brown's report called for accreditors to use transparent performance metrics. The call to break the link between accreditation and federal financial aid has frequently been made by Anne Neal, who is president of the trustees' group.

October 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Yagesh Bhambhani of the University of Alberta reveals why hands-free cell phone use makes driving dangerous. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 1, 2013

Gallaudet University's chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, has sued the university, saying that she suffered discrimination and retaliation for signing a petition to have Maryland residents vote on a state law permitting same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reported. McCaskill was briefly placed on leave as some on campus said it was inappropriate for a diversity officer to sign a petition widely viewed as  way to block gay marriage. McCaskill has argued that she took no stand on same-sex marriage except expressing a belief that state voters should get to decide the issue. Her suit says that, prior to her leave, she was deputy to the president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, as well as chief diversity officer. Since then, she says, her title has become chief diversity officer. Gallaudet officials declined to comment on the suit.

 

October 1, 2013

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the University of Alabama against an artist, AL.com reported. The judge ruled that the university could not bar the artist, Daniel Moore, from creating art based on real images of Alabama athletes. The case -- which has moved from court to court -- has been going on for eight years.

 

October 1, 2013

Bruce N. Chaloux, executive director and chief executive officer of the Sloan Consortium and a longtime leader in the online learning world, died suddenly over the weekend. Chaloux took the reins at Sloan, an association of professionals and institutions involved in digital education, in March 2012. Before that, he directed the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus, a market place of more than 10,000 digital courses, and previously worked at Virginia Tech and Castleton State College in Vermont.

"It is impossible to adequately put into words what Bruce Chaloux meant personally and professionally to each of us," said Meg Benke, Sloan's president and a faculty member in the Empire State College School for Graduate Studies. "He was more than the energetic CEO of our Consortium. He was our good-humored, kind and generous friend. He was an optimistic and dedicated leader who spent his last days doing what he loved: working diligently for online and adult learning opportunities here and around the world. His accomplishments are many, his networks extensive, and his unfinished business is still at hand."

September 30, 2013

An article in The Washington Post documents concerns that the looming withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan could threaten the future of the American University of Afghanistan, which has received significant American funding and offered a refuge and hope for a new generation of Afghanis.

September 30, 2013

The Islamist group Boko Haram is being blamed for the shooting deaths of up to 50 students at an agricultural college in Nigeria, with many of the students shot as they slept, BBC reported. The group opposes any education that is not focused on Islamic teachings.

 

September 30, 2013

Ohio University's marching band, at the request of administrators, dropped the controversial hit song "Blurred Lines" (which critics argue glorifies rape) from its halftime show, The Columbus Dispatch reported. While several British university pubs have barred playing the song, it has been featured in several halftime shows by university bands in the United States this football season. Richard Suk, director of the band, said he didn't object to the administrators' request but was concerned about "where do we draw the line in the future?"

The Post, the student newspaper at Ohio, has run opinion pieces criticizing the original decision to play "Blurred Lines," but the newspaper's editorial board took a different stand this time. "[W]hile we believe the [marching band] should not have chosen to perform the song, we also believe the administration should not have stepped in. The university should not censor the music on campus; we students are adults now, and can form opinions for ourselves," the editorial said.

September 30, 2013

North Carolina State University on Friday announced a $50 million gift from the Park Foundation. The funds will support a scholarship program through which students receive a four-year scholarship, a computer stipend, specialized faculty mentoring and various special learning opportunities.

 

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