Higher Education Quick Takes
Some of the students, faculty members and alumni outraged that Cooper Union is considering plans that would end its policy of free tuition are turning their attention to the institution's finances, The New York Times reported. Cooper Union officials have cited a deteriorating financial position to justify the possibility of charging tuition, and many of those close to the institution say that they should have learned of fiscal difficulties earlier. Many are now calling for an inquiry into the roots of the financial problems.
The people in charge of Football Bowl Subdivision teams, institutions and conferences are “overwhelmingly” white and male, but at 19, the number of minority head coaches reached a record high in the 2011 season, according to a new study from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. “Even though there was progress toward diversity, we can hardly say we are close to looking like America when it comes to who is leading college sport,” said Richard Lapchick, the institute’s director and principal author of the report. Of the college presidents at the 120 institutions, 90.8 percent are white and 81.7 percent are male. Among athletics directors, 88.3 percent are white and 95.8 percent are male. Commissioners of the institutions' conferences are all white and male. In total, 91.2 percent of the 365 campus leadership positions accounted for in the report are filled by white people. Seventy-five percent and 84.2 percent of the college presidents and athletic directors, respectively, are white men (only three presidents are minority women). In contrast, black students make up the majority -- 52.1 percent -- of the athletes playing football for the colleges.
Brazilian police officers on Tuesday forced several hundred students to end their occupation of a building at the University of Sao Paulo, the Associated Press reported. About 70 students were arrested. Students took over the building a week ago to protest the police presence on their campus.
The Obama administration's emphasis on the importance of college to get trained for a job has left some advocates for general education disappointed. On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama, however, offered a strong endorsement of the liberal arts. Speaking at a program to encourage students to go to college, Obama was asked for her thoughts on the best college majors. While she noted the growth of careers in the health professions, she first suggested that students worry less about major than what educators tend to talk about as critical thinking and communication skills. "I have to say I’m not as up on the exact right college majors, but I think -- here’s my answer: That’s the beauty of a liberal arts education, and I value liberal arts education because you’re really getting a broad skill set. And I think one of the things that’s important to be able to do in life is learn how to read and write -- write really well and articulate your views. So if you’re planning on going to graduate school, if you’re going to law school, for example, almost any liberal arts major that’s pushing you into writing where you have to write a thesis maybe, a large research paper at the end of the year, that kind of stuff is really good preparation for law school," she said.
South Korean officials announced Monday that the government is shutting down two universities -- Myungshin University and Sungwha College -- that were found to have violated the law through "serious corruption and irregularities," including embezzlement and creating fake documents, The Korea Herald reported. The government will help students current enrolled at the two institutions transfer elsewhere.
Faculty members at two California State University campuses -- East Bay and Dominguez Hills -- will strike for a day on Nov. 17 to protest a decision to withhold negotiated pay raises, according to the California Faculty Association. The association’s board of directors voted Monday to approve the strike. The raises, for the previous two academic years, were withheld after the state cut funding, according to the Associated Press. Informational picketing is being organized today and Wednesday on all Cal State campuses in the state.
Outrage is growing at leaders of Pennsylvania State University -- and not only at those who are facing criminal charges over allegations of the sex abuse of young boys, and of university officials lying about it (charges denied by all involved). Petitions have appeared calling for the resignation of Graham Spanier as president of the university. This Wednesday, Spanier and his wife were to be honored at a Penn State fund-raising dinner, and organizers announced Monday that the Spaniers had requested that the event be postponed in light of the events of the last week, StateCollege.com reported.
Even as officials said that Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was not a target of a criminal investigation, calls came for his resignation or firing. A photograph sent on Twitter shows a sign -- since removed, according to other reports -- around a statute of Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium. The sign features a line from the Penn State alma mater -- "may no act of ours bring shame."
Federal officials on Monday froze expansion of the J-1 visa program that allows foreign college students to take summer jobs in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The freeze followed reports by the AP on complaints that many of those who come to the United States through the program have been exploited by employers.