Higher Education Quick Takes
Ward Connerly, a national leader of the fight to end the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions, is being accused of mismanaging the group he created for this effort, The New York Times reported. The critic is Jennifer Gratz, who shares Connerly's views on affirmative action and was the named plaintiff in a suit challenging the consideration of race at the University of Michigan. After the suit, Gratz worked for Connerly. She is accusing him of misusing funds sent to advance his work, paying himself a large salary rather than devoting funds to his cause. Connerly called Gratz a "disgruntled former employee" trying to "besmirch me personally."
The union trying to organize research assistants at the University of Michigan will hold a press conference today at which it will charge that a graduate student lost funding and was kicked out of her program for being involved in the union, The Detroit Free Press reported. The student will share an e-mail she received from a faculty member saying "I realize you have other things going on but an increased [sic] in your focus on research is urgently needed.... This will probably require you to decrease your involvement in non-research [activity]." Because the student says her only non-research activity was the union, the union says this was an inappropriate order to stop involvement in the union. A university spokesman denied the allegation, saying that "this is an academic matter. While we are precluded by law from discussing publicly a student's academic record, we believe certain of the union's factual claims are unfounded."
Enrollment in professional science master's programs increased by 15.4 percent in 2011, according to data released today by the Council of Graduate Schools. The enrollments are highest in computational sciences, biology/biotechnology, environmental sciences and mathematics and statistics.
The American Association of University Professors last week sent a letter to the City University of New York chancellor and board chair, citing concerns about the “Pathways to Degree Completion Initiative,” a move by CUNY to enable smoother transfer for its community college students to CUNY's four-year institutions. The initiative was approved by CUNY’s Board of Trustees in June 2011. In the letter, the AAUP said that faculty members had complained about the new framework for the transfer of credits between CUNY’s 19 undergraduate colleges and the way these changes were adopted by “an administration-appointed Task Force and its associated committees,” bypassing elected faculty bodies. The faculty members have also complained about the soundness of the initiative itself and the consequences for academic freedom. (Some faculty members at community colleges have backed the changes, saying that they were necessary to help their students.)
Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations at CUNY, said the process had been a struggle, but that the initiative would raise quality and increase accountability. “CUNY’s Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Pathways Initiative after extensive consultation, hearings, and meetings. Hundreds of faculty have participated in the curricula development process and CUNY’s elected student leadership hailed the reforms as long overdue,” he said.
Officials of the London School of Economics and Political Science are investigating reports that a Jewish student was assaulted and had his nose broken after he objected to a Nazi-themed drinking game played on a student trip to France, AFP reported. The game, called "Nazi Ring of Fire," involves a series of cards arranged in the shape of a swastika.
Many community colleges "struggle" to "effectively meet the needs of immigrants," says a new report from the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education. The report notes that community colleges and immigrant groups vary, but suggests that certain parts of "a framework" are needed regardless of groups served or the characteristics of the college. These parts include high-level commitment to serving immigrant students, "proactive outreach" to immigrant students, a redesign of English as a second language programs, a "holistic, integrated" approach to student services and efforts to support leadership qualities in immigrant students.
Classes are scheduled to be held today in Northern Illinois University's Cole Hall -- which will be used for the first time since a gunman opened fire and killed five people four years ago, The Chicago Tribune reported. The building has been extensively renovated, but the return to the facility won't feature the kind of celebratory ribbon-cuttings typically used for such events. Provost Ray Alden said that Cole Hall "now stands as testament to this university's resolve."
Stackable pods, slightly larger than the space needed for a twin bed, are the latest housing alternative in Hong Kong, and students are among those trying out the unusual accommodations, Reuters reported. The pod concept was originally envisioned for tourists, but student demand led to the creation of a capsule dormitory. Most universities have long waiting lists for more traditional housing.