The faculty of Belmont University on Friday called for the institution to formally bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, The Tennessean reported. The university has been debating issues of bias and sexual orientation in recent weeks, amid reports that a women's soccer coach was forced out of her job because she is a lesbian whose partner is pregnant. The university has denied that sexual orientation is considered in decisions about employees, but current written policies at the university do not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Higher Education Quick Takes
In 2008, Colorado State University pledged that it would become carbon-neutral "rapidly," but The Coloradoan reported that officials now say that the process will take decades. Emissions have been going up in recent years, and a plan to build an electricity-generating wind farm collapsed, making the goal impossible to reach in the near term.
A new group of openly gay and lesbian college presidents on Friday released a video both to continue to draw attention to the organization and to join the "It Gets Better" campaign of posting videos to encourage young gay people not to give up hope when facing bullying or discrimination. The presidents and some of their partners talk about some of their past difficulties and current successes -- both personally and professionally. LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education has now had two meetings, and plans to convene again in March in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. Here is the video:
Laureate International, a worldwide chain of for-profit universities, is planning a major new campus in Australia, Adelaide Now reported. While an official announcement has not been made, government officials are reportedly in discussions about how to support the construction of a $300 million campus in Adelaide.
Measuring graduation rates at 200 percent of the expected time to graduate instead of 150 percent has an impact, but a relatively small one, according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The standard federal measure is 150 percent (or six years for a bachelor's degree and three years for an associate degree), but some have suggested that a longer time frame would show many more students finishing. The study found that while there are modest gains, they are smaller than those seen by measuring at 150 percent of expected time instead of 100 percent. At public, four-year colleges, the average gain by measuring rates at eight years over six is 4 percentage points, but the gain from four years to six years is 26 percentage points. For community colleges, the gain by going from three to four years is six percentage points, while the growth from two years to three is 11 percentage points.
Adam Wheeler, who duped Harvard University into admitting him based on a fake academic record, must repay the university $46,000 after pleading guilty Thursday to larceny, identity fraud and other charges, the Associated Press reported. The funds cover various grants he received based on the false record. He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered not to profit from the story of his Harvard experience while he is on probation. Wheeler told the court: "I am ashamed and embarrassed by what I've done."
New York City is seeking a university with strength in engineering and other applied sciences to help run a major new research institute, Bloomberg reported. City officials are considering institutions near and far -- as far away as Israel (where the Technion is under consideration). The selected university may receive funds and land for facilities.
Colleges and universities periodically experience anti-Semitic vandalism at Hillel facilities or other places identifiable as Jewish, but it's the rare incident that is traced to a university administrator. But on Wednesday authorities announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Mark Zacharias, scholarship coordinator of the honors college at Indiana University at Bloomington, on charges that he used a rock to break the glass of an information board in the building housing Jewish studies at the university, WRTV News reported. Indiana University has seen several other incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in the last week, but authorities have not linked Zacharias -- who has not commented -- to those events.
Deficit hawks in the U.S. Senate seeking to force their colleagues to offset the costs of extending the Bush-era tax cuts tried on Wednesday to kill off funds that help college financial aid offices cover the costs of providing federal grants to students. But in passing the tax bill, senators defeated the amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to eliminate the "administrative cost allowance," which provides a $5 payment to participating colleges for each student who receives a Pell Grant for an award year. "Many schools -- particularly those serving the greatest numbers of low-income students -- depend on these funds to staff, train, and fund their financial aid office operations," Justin A. Draeger, president of the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in a news release urging senators to reject the amendment. "Such cuts would have a dramatic negative effect on institutions' ability to serve students." The tax bill, as passed in the Senate, includes several provisions important to colleges.
The economic downturn of the last two years has challenged many colleges completing multi-year fund-raising campaigns -- especially those that announced ambitious targets prior to the sharp drops on Wall Street in the fall of 2008. But Columbia University on Wednesday announced that it is about to meet its $4 billion target (early) and that it is extending the effort and upping the target to $5 billion. The campaign was originally supposed to close at the end of 2011, but the university has already raised $3.9 billion. The campaign is now aiming for $5 billion by the end of 2013.