The playwright Tony Kushner on Friday accepted an honorary degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and acknowledged the controversy over the award, initially blocked by the City University of New York's board, but later approved by the Executive Committee of the board. The New York Times reported that Kushner said this degree was "the most interesting one I had to work hardest to get," and that he thanked those who helped him receive the honor. "Behind it there stands a shining community of people, of spirits of whom I’m proud to be able to call myself kindred who believe in the necessity of honest exchanges of ideas and opinions, who understand that life is a struggle to synthesize, to find a balance between responsibility and freedom, strategy and truth, survival and ethical humanity," he said.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Michigan is ending a longstanding practice that has resulted in scores of people being "banned for life" from its campus, the Detroit Free Press reported. The newspaper said that under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, the university would no longer give its police department broad discretion to ban people from campus for life for things such as vandalizing property. (The ACLU had charged that some people were barred for criticizing the university.) Under the new policy, the Free Press reported, the police chief can impose a one-year ban, then can let it lapse or extend it for a year.
The central office of the State University of New York System plans to use an extensive network of recruitment companies to significantly increase the enrollment of foreign students on its campuses, the university announced Thursday. By boosting enrollment of international students to 32,000 from the current 18,000, SUNY officials said, the university would be able to derive enough extra revenue from the full-tuition-paying students to create 3,000 scholarships for students to study abroad and fund international grants for its faculty members, among other things. SUNY's plan to depend heavily on recruitment agents is consistent with the views of its vice chancellor for global affairs, Mitch Leventhal, who has been an outspoken advocate for the use of agents in the debate that continues to roil international education circles.
Washington State's ethics board plans to fine a former professor at Evergreen State College nearly $120,000 for allegedly misappropriating payments that students made to participate on a study abroad trip in Chile, The Olympian reported. The former instructor, Jorge Gilbert, was placed on leave in 2009 and eventually resigned amid an investigation by the state auditor into charges that Gilbert could not account for up to $50,000 in fees paid by students. According to the newspaper, the penalty to be imposed by the Executive Ethics Board today will require him to make restitution to the students and pay fines for multiple violations of state ethics laws.
The U.S. Education Department published a final version Thursday of its controversial rules requiring vocational programs to prove that they are preparing graduates for "gainful employment." And while advocates for the colleges, Wall Street analysts, consumer advocates and members of Congress weighed in with widely varying interpretations of the wisdom and the likely impact of the regulations, nothing spoke louder than the reaction of Wall Street investors. Driven by the widespread sense of investor analysts and for-profit critics alike that the rules had been softened considerably from an earlier version, stocks of the 13 publicly traded higher education companies tracked by Bloomberg rose by 12 percent, the sharpest upturn since 2005, The Los Angeles Times reported. For a guide to the new rules, see this related article.
When Richard McCormick announced this week that he is retiring from the presidency of Rutgers University, he spoke of his excitement about returning to a faculty position in history. The Star-Ledger reported he is assured by his contract that his salary as a faculty member will be $335,000, not exactly a standard history professor's pay. That's because his presidential contract contains a provision stating that, should McCormick ever return to teaching at Rutgers, his salary could be "no less" than that of the highest paid faculty member in the system. The new salary, however, will be less than his current one as president, $550,000.
The University and College Union, the main faculty union in Britain, has again (kind of) endorsed a boycott of Israel. Past endorsements of boycotts have been widely criticized by academics (including those who criticize Israel's policies) as antithetical to academic freedom. Some have also said that the union lacks the legal authority in Britain to call for a boycott. A spokesman for the union said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that it would be incorrect to say that the union had called for a boycott. The actual resolution calls on the union to "circulate to all members" the call for a boycott by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, but does not actually call for a boycott. A statement from Academic Friends of Israel scoffed at the distinction between calling for a boycott and distributing a call for a boycott. “If UCU distributes copies of the Palestinian boycott call to its members ... it is effectively asking them to participate in the boycott," said a statement from the group.
Molly Easo Smith has resigned as president of Manhattanville College, after two years in office, The Journal News reported. A statement Wednesday, announcing her resignation on Tuesday, said that she had achieved many of the goals that had been set when she was hired. But she has also seen several controversies, including protests last year over the resignations of two popular administrators.