Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 23, 2013

The University of Alabama at Tusaloosa announced Friday that four black women and two other minority women will be joining the university's all-white sororities. The university has been engaged in an intense debate (and been subject to national criticism) following an article in the student newspaper about how black women have been rejected by the sororities -- sometimes at the behest of alumnae. The university first announced that sororities had agreed to a new system in which they could extend "bid" offers at any time of year, not just during the traditional rush period.

The university on Friday posted a video by President Judy Bonner in which she said that sororities had extended 72 of these new non-rush bids in the last week, with 11 bids going to black women and 3 to other minority women. In addition to the six minority bids that have been accepted, she said, others were being considered and might yet be accepted. She added that some sororities "are farther along than others" in desegregating.

 

September 23, 2013

Supporters of Cheyney University, a public historically black college in Pennsylvania, will announce today that they plan to sue the state unless certain conditions are met. The supporters argue that the state has failed to meet its obligations to support and enhance Cheyey. Specifically, they say that the state needs to revise its funding formula to focus less on enrollment because Cheyney's relatively low enrollment has led it to raise tuition, which in turn has made it difficult to recruit more students. Further, the group will demand that the university be protected from austerity measures currently being imposed in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, of which Cheyney is a part.

 

September 20, 2013

A $120 million gift from a Canadian business executive could help expand the Rhodes Scholarships, The Globe and Mail reported. The scholarships currently go to those in the British Commonwealth, the U.S. and Germany, and the gift could lead to an expansion to also include other countries.

 

September 20, 2013

The U.S. Education Department fined Dominican College in New York $200,000 for failing to comply with federal crime reporting mandates under the Clery Act. According to the settlement agreement, the college failed to “properly define its campus and report crime statistics for non-campus property; distribute the Annual Security Report (ASR) as required by the Clery Act; include required policy statements in the ASR; and maintain an accurate and complete daily crime log.”

(Note: The above paragraph has been updated from an earlier version to correct the fine amount.)

A Dominican spokeswoman, Erin DeWard, said the fine stems from a 2009 mistake in which officials listed incorrect crime statistics in the student handbook. Rather than updating the material to reflect the most recent numbers, Dominican re-printed old statistics from a year prior. In 2009, the college was ordered to pay $20,000 to the state of New York and make reforms to its crime reporting system, after an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that the handbook misstated crime statistics over the course of several years.

September 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Emma Versteegh of the University of Reading explains how earthworms create a chalky record of the climate. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 20, 2013

The American Public University System, which consists of the Charles Town, W.Va.-based American Public University and American Military University, announced on Thursday it will allow its students to earn academic credit by taking massive open online courses. The 10 science, technology and mathematics courses -- five each from MOOC providers Coursera and Udacity -- have received credit recommendations from the American Council on Education. In a statement, the university said it may expand its offerings and incorporate more MOOC providers in the future.

September 20, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association this week filed a motion to dismiss O’Bannon v. NCAA, the federal antitrust lawsuit currently seeking class action status. The suit argues that the NCAA and other private businesses profit off the likenesses of athletes who are prohibited from making any money off their own image, and that athletes are entitled to a share of the profits.

Because of lack of precedent, it’s unclear how the O’Bannon case might affect collegiate athletics, but some have speculated it could be huge. The NCAA decided in July to end its football video game contract with Electronic Arts Inc., which is facing a few other lawsuits by former athletes charging that EA profits off their likenesses.

September 20, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress on Thursday honored scientists whose seemingly obscure discoveries -- much like those that are sometimes ridiculed in the Capitol today -- actually ended up making important contributions to society, as part of the second annual Golden Goose Awards. This year's honorees for the award, which is sponsored by a set of higher education and scientific advocacy groups, included two Nobel-winning economists whose theoretical mathematical algorithms helped set the stage for the national kidney exchange, and a medical researcher whose study of the Gila monster's venom led to a drug that protects diabetics from some life-threatening complications.

 

September 20, 2013

The University of Oregon’s new faculty union reached its first contract agreement with the institution this week, following 10 months of negotiations.

In addition to an average salary increase of nearly 12 percent spanning the 2-year agreement and the creation of a salary floor for adjuncts, union members said the contract protects both academic freedom and freedom of speech. The union and the administration had clashed over language concerning such protections in negotiations, with the administration wanting to address each protection in separate clauses and include expectations of “civility.” Faculty involved in negotiations said divorcing academic freedom from freedom of speech could leave faculty who spoke out against the university vulnerable to potential punitive action. They also objected to the civility expectation.

The final contract’s statement on speech protections does address free speech and academic freedom separately, but explicitly grants faculty the right to engage in internal criticism -- something an earlier university counterproposal did not. It does not include expectations of civility.

Deborah Olson, a full-time adjunct instructor of special education who served on the bargaining committee for United Academics, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, said administrators “moved considerably on those positions from their first proposal, so for the first time at the table we’re very happy.”

Tim Gleason, dean of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication and a member of the institutional bargaining team, said it never tried to limit academic freedom for faculty, and that language in earlier proposals reflected the university’s attempts to protect both robustly. “That’s what we do at Oregon,” he said.

Bill Harbaugh, a professor economics who blogged from negotiations from a faculty perspective, said he felt the final agreement didn’t go far enough. Language proposed last year by the Faculty Senate, which is still being reviewed by senate leaders and administrators and expressly guarantees faculty’s right to engage in internal criticism “without fear of institutional discipline or restraint,” would have been better, he said.

September 20, 2013

The Yosemite Community College District is investigating why a student at Modesto Junior College was blocked from passing out copies of the Constitution on campus on Tuesday, which was Constitution Day, The Modesto Bee reported. A video of campus security stopping the student has circulated online, provoking criticism. A statement from the college said that passing out copies of the Constitution where the student did so was permitted "as long as they don’t disrupt the orderly operation of the college," and that "n the case of the YouTube video, it did not appear that the student was disrupting the orderly operation of the college."

 

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