During NIU Cares Day last year, students at Northern Illinois University worked to clean up local schools and parks -- but some were also assigned to paint the home of the administrator who oversaw the event, The Chicago Tribune reported. Angela Dreessen, director of student involvement and leadership development, told the Tribune that it was a poor decision to include her house among the projects for students. The university announced that Dreessen was being reassigned, but said that the shift was unrelated to the questions raised about having students paint her home.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Many colleges have majors in religious studies or theology, but Pitzer College believes it is the first to create a major in secularism, The New York Times reported. Professors from other departments will teach courses such as “God, Darwin and Design in America,” “Anxiety in the Age of Reason” and “Bible as Literature.” Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist of religion, is organizing the new major. "It’s not about arguing ‘Is there a God or not?’” Zuckerman told the Times. “There are hundreds of millions of people who are nonreligious. I want to know who they are, what they believe, why they are nonreligious. You have some countries where huge percentages of people — Czechs, Scandinavians — now call themselves atheists. Canada is experiencing a huge wave of secularization. This is happening very rapidly. It has not been studied."
A psychologist at the University of Texas at Arlington was the "intended target" in the shooting death of her husband by one of her former student clients, The Dallas Morning News reported. The former student shot and killed himself after killing the psychologist's husband. Authorities said that they came to the conclusion about the shooter's motive based on something they found in in his vehicle, but they declined to say what that was.
Antioch College, which is being revived after its original version was shut down by Antioch University, announced a key advance on Friday: The chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents has authorized Antioch to award bachelor's degrees. That state approval is crucial to the new Antioch obtaining accreditation.
The University of California system is debating the idea of charging different tuition rates at different campuses, The Los Angeles Times reported. Proponents say that the idea can bring in badly needed revenue, and is realistic, given that there is much greater demand to enroll at some campuses (Berkeley, for example) than others. Critics see the idea undercutting the unity of the system.
Students at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee early Saturday morning ended a protest in which they had occupied a study room in the student union nonstop for 67 days, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The students have been protesting Governor Scott Walker's budget plans, which include legislation to deny collective bargaining rights to many state workers. The students attended class during the protests, but kept at least one person in the study room, in which they also slept and ate. Police had to escort some of the protesters out of the room, but none of them resisted.
The Technion is suing Google, claiming that the company has a responsibility to shut down a blog that is highly critical of a program at the Israeli university, Haaretz reported. The blog is on one of Google's blog-hosting sites. Google declined to comment, but is contesting the suit in an Israeli court. The blog in question is devoted to attacking the quality of a medical school program at the Technion for Americans. The blog claims that the program is a poor choice for American students, and the Technion says that the blog is spreading slander.
Academic professionals in Illinois are worried that legislation under consideration would move classification of their jobs from their universities to a state civil service commission, The News-Gazette reported. The academic professionals -- and university administrators too -- say that universities are better able to determine the qualifications needed for various jobs.
About 25 adjunct faculty members at Ferris State University in Michigan held a sit-in in the university president's office for about two and a half hours Thursday afternoon before being asked to leave by police. The faculty members, part of the school's newly formed adjunct union, have argued that administrators have been intractable in negotiations and have been unwilling to address issues such as job security and benefits. The university's administration claims that the union is being unrealistic by using the adjunct union's contract at the University of Michigan as their model. At the time of the sit-in, the university's president was not on campus.
A federal jury has awarded $1.1 million to a former history professor at Madison Area Technical College, finding that he lost his position for complaining about religious discrimination, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Michael Dubin reported comments that denigrated Judaism. A lawyer for the college said that the institution did not violate the law, and that Dubin's contract was not renewed because of his job performance.