Twenty-eight universities have signed a letter to President Obama from NAFSA: Association of International Education calling for an end to regulations imposed in 2004 that have effectively barred most study abroad programs in Cuba. Only about 250 students from the United States studied in Cuba in 2007-8, compared to 2,100 in the last year before the regulations were imposed. "Academic exchanges are often seen as a critical component of U.S. engagement in the world and have historically been a successful tool in building relations between nations," the letter says. "They also present students with an unparalleled educational opportunity. Both of these values of academic exchange hold true regardless of where in the world a student studies abroad, whether in China, Indonesia, England, or Cuba."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A new report by Jobs for the Future outlines how the Hidalgo Independent School District, which serves an economically depressed area along the Texas-Mexico border, was able to graduate more than 95 percent of its most recent high school graduating class with college credit. About two-thirds of its graduating seniors earned at least a full semester of college credit. The school district opened the Hidalgo Early College High School in 2005 with help from the University of Texas System and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Unlike many early college high schools that serve less than 400 students, the Hidalgo model serves all of the 900+ high-schoolers in the district. The high school has strong partnerships with South Texas College and Texas State Technical College, so that students can transfer onward to earn a postsecondary credential. John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Texas High School Project, said of the project, “Hidalgo [Independent School District] shows that obstacles impeding high school and postsecondary success can be overcome. The success of early college high schools is being replicated in districts throughout Texas. We need to create more Hidalgos in our country, more districts where the lessons of early college are spread to all students.”
The State University of New York at Binghamton said Thursday that it had agreed to pay $1.2 million in a settlement that will lead to the departure of its suspended men's basketball coach, Kevin Broadus. The coach was in the thick of a basketball controversy last fall that focused on the admission of academically underprepared athletes and numerous high-profile arrests of players, and Broadus was put on paid leave for his role, which included accusations that he pushed for the admission of players with poor academic credentials and known behavioral problems. But a decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association this month to end its investigation into possible wrongdoing by Binghamton led Broadus's lawyer to insist that his client had been maligned, and the university's interim president, C. Peter Magrath, said in announcing the settlement Thursday that the university wanted to move on. Broadus will receive about $820,000 to buy out his remaining contract and about $380,000 from the SUNY system to cover the coach's legal fees.
An Ohio University journalism professor, who was nearly denied tenure over harassment allegations, should be reprimanded for his behavior, a faculty committee has recommended. Bill Reader was granted tenure by Ohio’s president over the objections of his department director and dean, but the charges that imperiled Reader’s tenure case were separately evaluated by his college’s Professional Ethics Committee. Evidence suggests Reader engaged in nonviolent threats of retaliation following a tenure vote that narrowly ended in his favor, the full committee found. Of the committee’s six members, five also agreed Reader engaged in acts of intimidation and verbal harassment of his colleagues. Reprimands are reserved for “moderately serious” offenses, and are less severe than censure or disciplinary action, according to the university’s faculty handbook. In an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed Thursday, Reader said "I maintain my innocence and will appeal if necessary.”
Cornell University on Thursday announced an $80 million gift from David R. and Patricia Atkinson to support an interdisciplinary research center on sustainability. The center currently involves the work of 220 faculty fellows from 55 academic departments.
Mark Hopton, who was laid off as assistant vice president for business services at Ohio University, was arrested Thursday and charged with making terror threats against the institution, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Police found 12 guns at his home. Authorities said calls from Hopton to the university on Wednesday prompted them to secure several buildings. WBNS TV reported that Hopton was released on a $10,000 bond.
Following budget cuts of 13 percent and 7 percent, the Nevada System of Higher Education has refused Gov. Jim Gibbons' request to state agencies that they submit a plan to cut budgets by 10 percent, The Las Vegas Sun reported. Dan Klaich, chancellor of the system, said no disrespect was intended but that additional cuts were "elusive" and that he didn't want to set off new speculation about who might lose jobs.
The post-racial society does exist … on Facebook. This according to researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles, who found that shared racial background is not an important factor for students when deciding whom to connect with on the popular social networking site. The paper, which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Sociology, bases its finding not just on whether students extended or accepted friendship requests from students of another race, but whether they were tagging those students in photo albums on Facebook — an act that implies not only a deeper level of virtual connection, but also that the students hung out in real life, too, the researchers say. Although the sample is limited to a single college class at a top-tier university, the researchers say the findings demonstrate that “past research might have exaggerated the role of race in social relationships,” according to a UCLA news release. Based on the rate at which students from prep-school backgrounds tended to connect on Facebook, the authors note that socioeconomic class could be a far more salient factor.
Mark Yudof, president of the University of California, has released a formal proposal to change retirement benefits for employees in the system, The Sacramento Bee reported. Yudof and other system officials have been saying for some time that the university's retirement system faces a massive deficit that requires changes to assure its solvency. Yudof's proposal would raise the minimum age to be eligible for retirement, for those hired after July 1, 2013, to 55 (from the current 50). The age for maximum pension benefits would go up to 65 (from 60). In addition, there would be reductions in the health care costs current employees would have covered by the university.
The University of Iowa, like a number of other colleges and universities, has been trying to limit excessive student drinking on Thursdays by scheduling more classes on Fridays. But as The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported, that's easier said than done. After a brief increase in the number of Friday classes, there are now only 1,255 of them at the university, compared to 1,974 on Mondays, the day with the next fewest classes. Faculty members said that they avoid scheduling Friday classes because many students won't attend.