Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 3:00am

Several history and anthropology students at Queen’s University Belfast refused to shake the hand of the university president at their graduation ceremony to protest his comment that “society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth-century historian,” The Irish News reported.

The controversial comment from the president and vice chancellor, Patrick Johnston, appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in May. A longer version of the quote reads: “Society doesn't need a 21-year-old who is a sixth-century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyze things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who is a thinker and someone who has the potential to help society drive forward. I don't talk about producing graduates, I talk about producing citizens that have the potential for leadership in society.”

Johnston subsequently clarified his comments in a written statement in which he apologized for “any misunderstanding.”

“In the interview I wanted to stress that a university education is more than the study of any one subject and that the aim is to produce graduates who have the potential to become leaders within our society. History graduates at Queen’s are thinkers who have the capacity to help drive society forward,” he said.

Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 3:00am

James Ammons, who was named the next provost of Delaware State University in May, has decided not to take the job, The News Journal reported. No reason was given, and Ammons did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. Ammons resigned as president of Florida A&M University in 2012 amid a scandal over the hazing death of a student and questions about the finances of the institution.

Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Janice Chism, professor of biology and anthropology at Winthrop University, describes looking for meaning in saki monkey calls to observe this bashful breed. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 3:00am

David Ikenberry was recently reappointed as dean of the business school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. But The Daily Camera reported that he was reappointed despite complaints in an anonymous faculty survey about how he treated women. Some professors said that they would leave the university if Ikenberry won another term as dean.

"Dean Ikenberry has behaved in a manner that is, in my opinion, unethical, and in some instances clearly discriminatory," wrote one survey respondent. "He has shown repeatedly that he does not fully value the capacity of women at Leeds [the business school]; in some cases he denigrates women. Although he presents himself as an advocate of diversity, he appears incapable of responding positively when challenged with different views, especially when challenged by women."

Ikenberry told the newspaper he didn't "quite know how to react" to the comments. "I'm not able to really respond to the anonymous nature of some of those comments," he said. "We work hard to create a positive and inclusive work environment for everyone and to the extent that there are those who disagree or have concerns, it's something that I, too, share in concern." He added that "we've made quite a bit of change and it's been agreeable to some and disagreeable to others."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Kansas State University must investigate accusations of sexual assault at off-campus fraternity houses, the federal government stated in documents filed Friday in support of two students who are suing the university.

In their federal lawsuits, two female students said they were raped at two fraternity houses in 2014 and 2015 and that the university violated Title IX -- the gender discrimination law that instructs colleges how to handle accusations of sexual assault -- when officials did not investigate the claims. The university argued in court that the lawsuits should be dismissed because it is not responsible for reports of rape at off-campus locations.

But the U.S. Department of Education stated in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter that Title IX does require colleges and universities to investigate such cases, specifically citing university-recognized off-campus fraternity houses.

“The continuing effects of a student-on-student rape, including the constant fear of exposure to one’s assailant, can render a student’s educational environment hostile,” the government filings said, according to The New York Times. “Thus, a school must respond to allegations of sexual assault in fraternity activities to determine if a hostile environment exists there or in any other education program or activity.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will pay $2.48 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by eight women against the university's football program, The Tennessean reported Tuesday.

The women reported that they had been assaulted by six athletes -- including five football players -- and that the university and its athletic department largely ignored the behavior. University officials found five of the athletes to be responsible for sexual misconduct but allowed them to remain on campus, graduate or transfer to other colleges. Two of the players are currently awaiting trial but have pleaded not guilty to the rape charges. The lawsuit also accused Butch Jones, the university's head football coach, of calling a player a traitor after he helped one of the women who said she had been raped.

The university admitted to no wrongdoing in the settlement but will allow a special independent commission to review how it responds to sexual assaults, including the university's use of the Administrative Procedures Act, a disciplinary process criticized for favoring athletes. The university also agreed to no longer provide football players with a list of attorneys when they are accused of assault.

As part of the settlement, the women will withdraw two federal complaints over the university's handling of sexual assaults filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, though that does not mean the office will necessarily end its investigation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

A growing number of colleges have created student aid programs that direct small amounts of money, sometimes as little as $300, to students who are struggling to pay for tuition or a financial emergency. NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education on Wednesday released a study on emergency aid programs at 523 institutions from various sectors of higher education.

Common forms of such aid include emergency loans, campus vouchers, food pantries and completion scholarships, according to the report. Most of the emergency aid programs (82 percent) have been in place for at least three years. But colleges tend not to advertise emergency aid beyond word of mouth, according to NASPA, and the need for such programs outstrips available funds. The study included five suggestions for improving the administration and impact of emergency aid:

  • A common language to describe and discuss emergency aid
  • More policy guidance for administering emergency grants and loans
  • Standardized procedures to guide the development of new and existing programs
  • Improved data usage to identify students who need aid and to assess the effect of programs on student success
  • More automated processing of the aid
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Italian police have charged a homeless man with aggravated murder in connection with the death of a University of Wisconsin-Madison student, NBC News reported. Beau Solomon, a sophomore personal finance major, was last seen at a pub around 1 a.m. on Friday, just hours after his arrival in Rome for a summer program at John Cabot University. His body was found in the Tiber River on Monday. Thousands of dollars had reportedly been charged to his credit card. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Papua New Guinea has ended the academic year early as a result of student protests that have led to violence, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The chancellor, Nicholas Mann, cited an atmosphere of “mob rule, intimidation, harassment and violence” in explaining the decision to end the academic year more than a semester early. Students began boycotting classes in early May to protest the prime minister's handling of corruption allegations. Police fired on and wounded student protestors in a widely reported incident June 8.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, James Waller, professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Keene State College, says genocide is a human problem that has a human solution. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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