The Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced a new pilot program in which the agency will work with six colleges and universities to assess and improve their campus emergency and resilience plans. More information about the program and how to apply may be found here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Rutgers University will announce today a new center that will focus on research and education to help vulnerable young people making the transition to college. The center will be named for Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers freshman who killed himself two years ago after his roommate recorded his meeting with a man, and broadcast it to others. The center will focus on issues of cyberbullying and the challenges facing young gay people, but will not be limited to those issues. Clementi's parents are backing the new effort and working on it with Rutgers.
Officials of the Palestinian Authority, which does not control Gaza, are criticizing Al-Aqsa University, which is located there, for adopting a dress code for female students, Ma'an reported. Women will be required to wear "Islamic" attire, but officials said that need not be a full body or head covering, but must involve modesty. The university says that the vast majority of women on campus already dress appropriately, and that lectures would be used to encourage others to change their attire. Palestinian Authority officials said that the rules conflict with guarantees of personal freedom that are part of Palestinian law.
Curry College waited almost a week to tell the campus that a student had reported a "group rape" in a dormitory, The Boston Globe reported. The victim reported the attack on January 22, three men were arrested on January 25, and the college notified students and others on January 28. A college spokeswoman said that Curry's policy is to notify the campus if alleged assailants are unknown and that in this case they were known. (Two of them are former students.) Curry is now reviewing its policies. A summary of federal reporting requirements -- by the Clery Center for Security on Campus -- notes that colleges are required to report incidents based on whether a threat may be posed to students, and based on the seriousness of a crime.
More than half of the 125 students investigated in a cheating scandal at Harvard University have been told to withdraw for up to a year, Bloomberg reported. Half of those remaining were placed on probation. The investigations and punishments have drawn considerable attention, and some have questioned whether cheating really took place. Critics have said that students were not given clear guidance on the forms of collaboration that were permitted and those that were banned.
Moody's Investors Service downgraded 34 higher education institutions in 2012 while upgrading only 3, the ratings agency reported Friday, an indicator of ongoing financial challenges facing colleges and universities. Analysts chalked up the downgrades to problems raising net tuition revenue, continued state budget cuts, and enrollment troubles. "Of the seven public universities whose ratings were downgraded in the fourth quarter, five had declines in total full-time equivalent student enrollment," the report notes. Prominent downgrades included the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Pennsylvania State University.
Chinese authorities have blocked Ilham Tohti, a leading scholar from China’s Turkic Uighur ethnic minority, from leaving the country to start a fellowship at Indiana University at Bloomington, the Associated Press reported. Tohti said he was questioned for hours at the airport before being sent home. Tohti has spoken out about the treatment of Chinese minority groups, and been criticized for doing so by Chinese authorities. A spokesman for Indiana told Inside HIgher Ed that Tohti was scheduled to start as a visiting scholar in Central Eurasian studies at the university.
The University of British Columbia is giving all female, tenure-track faculty members a 2 percent raise, The Globe and Mail reported. The move follows a series of studies that found female professors earning less than their male counterparts. Some of that gap is explained by factors that were not deemed to constitute gender bias. For instance, male faculty members are more likely than are female faculty members to teach in disciplines where salaries are high. The 2 percent raises are an attempt to remedy the portion of the salary gap that cannot be explained by legitimate factors.
Most of the attention related to the controversial "state authorization" regulations that the U.S. Education Department sought to implement in 2010 revolved around their potential application to distance education programs -- which a federal court invalidated in July 2011, and the agency said a year later it would not enforce. But lest college leaders (or state officials) think they were off the hook for the rest of the new requirements related to seeking state approval, the Education Department sent a little reminder to the contrary last week.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter to state education officials, department administrators noted that the delays in enforcement (of up to two years) that individual colleges could seek if they had been unable to obtain authorization to maintain a physical presence in a given state would be exhausted by the end of June 2013. So any institution that has not been granted approval to operate a physical campus in a state under the terms of the 2011 rules by then will risk losing access to federal financial aid funds, the letter notes.