Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 7, 2016

A university in Alberta, Canada, has suspended without pay a professor accused of denying the Holocaust following scrutiny of an anti-Semitic post made by a third party on his Facebook page, CBC reported. The University of Lethbridge has “reassigned” the classes of Anthony Hall, who says he is a victim of a smear campaign.

October 7, 2016

The Ghanaian government wants to remove a statue of Mohandas Gandhi from the University of Ghana campus in response to a petition drive from professors characterizing the Indian independence leader as racist, the Associated Press reported. The petition quotes from writings of Gandhi’s in which he refers to black South Africans as savages.

Ghana’s foreign affairs ministry said the government wants to relocate the statue “to ensure its safety” and expressed concern that the controversy would harm Ghana’s relations with India. "While acknowledging that human as he was, Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws, we must remember that people evolve," the government’s statement said. "He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world."

October 7, 2016

B Lab is a nonprofit group that issues a seal of approval to companies across 120 industries that adhere to voluntary standards based on social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. After a two years of work, the group on Friday released a new benchmarking tool for colleges. The voluntary standards are designed to enable comparisons of both nonprofit and for-profit institutions.

"B Lab recognizes that the cost and outcomes of higher education, particularly regarding for-profit institutions, have become increasingly controversial, but regardless of structure institutions should put their students’ needs first," Dan Osusky, standards development manager at B Lab, said in a written statement. "We see our role as the promoter of robust standards of industry-specific performance that can be used by for-profits and nonprofits alike to create the greatest possible positive impact and serve the public interest, ultimately by improving the lives of their students."

A committee of experts, working with HCM Strategists and with funding from the Lumina Foundation, devised the standards. Laureate Education, a global for-profit chain, already uses the assessment tool.

October 7, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Robert Edgell, assistant professor of technology management at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, explores the hidden intentions behind human communications and how they can hinder innovation. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 6, 2016

Sharon Gray, a postdoc in plant biology at the University of California, Davis, was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when a vehicle in which she was traveling was stoned by protesters, The Sacramento Bee reported. The protest was over land rights and political issues in Ethiopia and had no apparent connection to Gray. She was traveling with a colleague in plant biology who was not injured. The university said that Gray was in Ethiopia "for a meeting to discuss the next steps on a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations."

Colleagues in Gray's department have posted numerous photographs of her on a webpage.

"Even in tragedy, we hope that we all can find some comfort in the wonderful work Sharon was engaged in that will better the lives of so many around the world," said a statement from Ken Burtis, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.

October 6, 2016

The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa announced Wednesday afternoon that a student linked to racist Facebook posts has been suspended and is no longer on campus.

The announcement followed widespread outrage over the Facebook posts, which were widely circulated on Twitter and elsewhere.

Before announcing the suspension, the university made a series of posts on Facebook in which it first said it was investigating and then said that it had made a decision but would not announce it until the student was notified.

The original posts that set off the controversy have been deleted, and the student has not commented.

October 6, 2016

Many colleges and universities near the Atlantic coast -- from Florida through North Carolina -- are announcing that they will evacuate their campuses and shut down operations in anticipation of the possible arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Many of these colleges will be closed from today through Sunday.

Among the colleges evacuating or shutting down (with some closing only Friday -- see links for details) are: Bethune-Cookman University, Broward College, College of Charleston, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Atlantic University, Jacksonville University, Miami-Dade College, Savannah State University, Seminole State College, University of Florida, Trident Technical College, University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, University of North Florida,

The College Board, which has an SAT scheduled for Sunday, has announced that it will work with test centers that are closed to reschedule. (Photo is of a previous hurricane.)

October 6, 2016

The former Baylor University coordinator of efforts to enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 blasted the university in an interview with CBS News Wednesday, saying that officials did not truly want to deal with the issue of sexual assault. The coordinator, Patty Crawford, resigned this week. She told CBS that the university had "set me up from the beginning," and that officials had been committed to protecting the university's reputation more than investigating allegations. “I continued to work hard, and the harder I worked, the more resistance I received from senior leadership. That became clear that that was not something the university wanted and in July, I made it clear and ready that I had concerns and that the university was violating Title IX, and my environment got worse,” she said.

The university has said that it is working hard on these issues. Baylor noted that, in settlement negotiations between Crawford and the university, she sought more than $1 million and the right to retain book and film rights to her story. Her lawyer said that Baylor was trying to smear her.

October 6, 2016

A man with a machete was shot and killed by police officers when he was wielding the weapon in the sports medicine facility of the University of Colorado at Boulder, The Denver Post reported. “Given the weapon the suspect was armed with, given the statement already made to our initial victim and given the nature of how he was maneuvering through the Champions Center, we believe it was in the best interest of the university that it was a deadly force situation,” said the university's campus police chief, Melissa Za, at a news conference.

October 6, 2016

Marymount California University has rolled out an automobile incentive in a drive to entice students to graduate in four years.

The private Catholic university in Southern California has a new program starting this fall for freshmen that dangles the keys to Mini Coopers. Freshmen can purchase a car from an area dealer at a discounted price under a new program called My Marymount Mini. The students will be responsible for making four years of car payments. But if they graduate in four years, the university will make their fifth and final year of payments, worth up to $5,000.

“Our students will commute to and from our campuses, drive to their internships, and explore the abundance of beauty, culture and fun that Southern California has to offer,” said Marymount President Lucas Lamadrid, who is credited with the program idea, in a statement. “And our graduates who participate in the My Marymount Mini will have a reliable and cool car that’s fully paid for to drive to their first job after college.”

The dealership involved wants 100 freshmen to sign up this year. Marymount California University enrolls approximately 1,100 students. It lists tuition of $34,134 for full-time students this academic year.


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