Higher Education Quick Takes
Brazilian police officers on Tuesday forced several hundred students to end their occupation of a building at the University of Sao Paulo, the Associated Press reported. About 70 students were arrested. Students took over the building a week ago to protest the police presence on their campus.
The Obama administration's emphasis on the importance of college to get trained for a job has left some advocates for general education disappointed. On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama, however, offered a strong endorsement of the liberal arts. Speaking at a program to encourage students to go to college, Obama was asked for her thoughts on the best college majors. While she noted the growth of careers in the health professions, she first suggested that students worry less about major than what educators tend to talk about as critical thinking and communication skills. "I have to say I’m not as up on the exact right college majors, but I think -- here’s my answer: That’s the beauty of a liberal arts education, and I value liberal arts education because you’re really getting a broad skill set. And I think one of the things that’s important to be able to do in life is learn how to read and write -- write really well and articulate your views. So if you’re planning on going to graduate school, if you’re going to law school, for example, almost any liberal arts major that’s pushing you into writing where you have to write a thesis maybe, a large research paper at the end of the year, that kind of stuff is really good preparation for law school," she said.
South Korean officials announced Monday that the government is shutting down two universities -- Myungshin University and Sungwha College -- that were found to have violated the law through "serious corruption and irregularities," including embezzlement and creating fake documents, The Korea Herald reported. The government will help students current enrolled at the two institutions transfer elsewhere.
Faculty members at two California State University campuses -- East Bay and Dominguez Hills -- will strike for a day on Nov. 17 to protest a decision to withhold negotiated pay raises, according to the California Faculty Association. The association’s board of directors voted Monday to approve the strike. The raises, for the previous two academic years, were withheld after the state cut funding, according to the Associated Press. Informational picketing is being organized today and Wednesday on all Cal State campuses in the state.
Outrage is growing at leaders of Pennsylvania State University -- and not only at those who are facing criminal charges over allegations of the sex abuse of young boys, and of university officials lying about it (charges denied by all involved). Petitions have appeared calling for the resignation of Graham Spanier as president of the university. This Wednesday, Spanier and his wife were to be honored at a Penn State fund-raising dinner, and organizers announced Monday that the Spaniers had requested that the event be postponed in light of the events of the last week, StateCollege.com reported.
Even as officials said that Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was not a target of a criminal investigation, calls came for his resignation or firing. A photograph sent on Twitter shows a sign -- since removed, according to other reports -- around a statute of Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium. The sign features a line from the Penn State alma mater -- "may no act of ours bring shame."
Federal officials on Monday froze expansion of the J-1 visa program that allows foreign college students to take summer jobs in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The freeze followed reports by the AP on complaints that many of those who come to the United States through the program have been exploited by employers.
The University of Illinois on Monday released the results of an outside investigation it commissioned on false statements made by its law school about applicants' grade-point averages and test scores -- and the university pointed a finger at one person as responsible. Paul Pless, formerly assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school, on the Urbana-Champaign campus, "knowingly and intentionally" miscalculated data, the report found. Pless has been on leave since an inquiry started into the statistics, and he resigned last week. The various changes Pless made in applicants' test scores and grades were designed to give the law school a better U.S. News & World Report ranking. (Pless could not be reached for comment.) The investigation found that changes Pless made took place after applicants had been evaluated, so admissions decisions were based on accurate information.
A medical professor at George Washington University who is alleged not to have taught classes, and simply to have awarded grades of A, has resigned, the Associated Press reported. Students complained to the university provost about the alleged lack of teaching.