Higher Education Quick Takes
In the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to eliminate the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the state's college and university systems have stepped in to fulfill some of the agency's duties in ways that threaten to elevate institutional interests over state needs, California's Legislative Analyst's Office said in a report issued last week. The report recommends more direct legislative oversight and the establishment of another formal oversight body when the economic situation permits.
Xavier University, in Ohio, has backed away from a plan to require all students who were in the student section at a basketball game at which a brawl broke out to attend a "reflection session" as a condition of attending any other basketball games, Cincinnati.com reported. The brawl -- involving athletes from Xavier and its crosstown rival the University of Cincinnati -- embarrassed both universities. An e-mail announcing the requirement said: "The student section contributed to the hostile atmosphere that charged the arena with unsportsmanlike conduct through unacceptable chanting, verbal expletives, and objects being thrown onto the arena floor. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, the behaviors demonstrated are not becoming of its students and is in conflict with the mission, values, and standards of Xavier University." But many students objected to everyone being required to attend the event, so the university is now making attendance voluntary, and inviting all students, not just those who were in attendance the night of the brawl.
The U.S. Education Department has tapped the president of Southern Vermont College, Karen Gross, to advise it on issues related to college access, affordability and completion. In a news release Friday, Southern Vermont said that Gross had been granted a year's leave of absence from the presidency to serve as a senior policy adviser to Under Secretary Martha J. Kanter, with whom Gross and Southern Vermont had worked on several initiatives. Gross, who spent two decades as a law professor and expert on consumer debt before assuming the presidency of the small Vermont private college in 2006, has focused on the educational success of first-generation and low-income students, top priorities of the Obama administration. (She has written frequently for Inside Higher Ed.)
The board of Kean University is investigating allegations of false statements on the résumé of Dawood Farahi, the president, The Wall Street Journal reported. The faculty union at Kean has questioned whether Farahi falsely claimed to have written more than 50 articles, including some allegedly published in journals that do not exist. Professors at Kean have had numerous conflicts with Farahi, and have charged that he does not respect the faculty role in governance, and that his priorities don't reflect academic needs at the New Jersey institution. A statement from Farahi denied the allegations and said that they were motivated by "hate, prejudice and greed."
Vietnamese universities are pushing for more autonomy, Viet Nam News reported. The institutions want control over such matters as enrollment policy and administration. Government officials have said that some state control remains needed to assure quality.
Rick Santorum is accusing President Obama of "snobbery" for saying that all Americans need at least some higher education, The Wall Street Journal reported. "We are leaving so many children behind,” said Santorum, whose candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has been gaining ground of late, in New Hampshire on Saturday. "They’re not ready to go to [college.] They don’t want to go to college. They don’t need to go to college. I was so outraged that the President of the United States [said] every student should go to college." Added Santorum: "I have seven kids. Maybe they’ll all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him! That’s a good-paying job." As the article in the Journal noted, it is increasingly rare for political leaders to express that view, given that some higher education is now becoming necessary for many manufacturing jobs that once would not have required it.
Sterling College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Kansas, has announced an unusual gift. Someone left a boulder with a sword's handle sticking out of it outside a campus building. There was no note, but the boulder is engraved with "SC Warriors" on one side. (The college's athletic teams are known as the Warriors.) A statement from Scott Rich, vice president and chief financial officer, said, "The gift is professionally done, and it is clear that a lot of time and effort have gone into the project. We would like to know more information about the gift to properly thank those who donated it."
Organizers have failed in their attempt to gather enough petition signatures to force a vote in California on whether to repeal the state's Dream Act, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The drive needed about 500,000 signatures and was about 57,000 short. California's Dream Act allows -- in certain circumstances -- students who lack the legal documentation to live in the United States to receive state financial aid.