Higher Education Quick Takes
Amid reports that ducks that Lynn University had removed from its campus were subsequently killed, the university is pledging to never again use the contractor that handled the relocation. The university said that it had to remove the ducks, which are not native to the area, because of the mess they were making on university property and because of their impact on the campus ecosystem. Officials said that they tried many measures -- such as asking students to stop feeding them -- to discourage the duck population from remaining. And the university said that it believed that the ducks would simply be relocated alive. But in response to reports that the ducks were killed, the university posted a statement in which it said that some ducks were turned over by a contractor to third parties and that their fate can't be determined. In a post to the university's Facebook page, officials said that some had been destroyed.
Many students said that they are outraged -- and that the ducks should have been permitted to stay. Some are advocating calling animal rights groups. One student called the university's actions "despicable and disgusting." One angry person wrote: "You know, a lot of the students are rather messy and leave their trash laying about waiting for someone else to clean up their mess. Do we relocate the students or should we make them responsible for their actions? Leave the ducks alone but maybe teach the students about cleaning up after themselves."
Domaine Javier, who identifies as female although she is biologically male, was expelled this fall by California Baptist University, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university declined to comment about the case, but university documents sent to Javier accuse her of engaging in fraud by concealing her identity. Javier told the newspaper that she believed she was being truthful when she told the university she is female, and that she has identified that way since she was a toddler. "I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. "They said, 'On your application form you put female.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that’s how I see myself.' "
The board of Southern University on Friday declared that the flagship campus at Baton Rouge is in a state of financial exigency, The Advocate reported. A similar vote failed in September, when several board members did not attend the meeting. Faculty groups and others have opposed the move, which makes it easier for the university to eliminate academic programs, tenured faculty positions, and more. But university leaders said that they needed flexibility to deal with budget cuts that have already been made by state officials in Louisiana, and more that are expected.
A jury on Friday awarded $4.1 million to Austin T. Wells for brain injuries he suffered after falling down an elevator shaft at an event sponsored by the University of Memphis in 2005, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The jury found the university 65 percent at fault and a gallery where the event was held 30 percent at fault, with Wells 5 percent responsible, and the funds provided to Wells will be provided in that proportion, minus the 5 percent. The university and the gallery owner had each blamed the other party for lack of supervision at the event.
The Pentagon on Friday pledged not to change tuition reimbursement policies for active duty military at this time. Cuts in benefits have been expected (and the Marine Corps indicated earlier in the month that it was ready to make cuts), causing concern to many active duty military members who are enrolled in various programs. The Pentagon announcement did not rule out future cuts, but said any changes would be made as part of a "holistic review of the military compensation package."
An Iowa jury has rejected a lawsuit by Bradley Barrett, who sued the University of Northern Iowa when he was fired as a music professor, The Waterloo Daily Courier reported. Barrett was fired after Northern Iowa officials learned that he had been named in a sex abuse suit filed by a former student of his when he taught at a high school. That suit was dropped based on a ruling on the statute of limitations.
Jorge Posadas, director of student life at San Antonio College, has apologized for telling students who write for The Ranger, the newspaper at the college, that he would charge them for in-person interviews, The San Antonio Express-News reported. The request to be paid alarmed the journalists and others who learned of it. Posadas said that he made the request because he thought he was being asked for consulting work, not to be interviewed.
The League of Lebanese University Professors announced Friday that it was suspending a strike that has lasted for six weeks, cutting off classes for about 60,000 students, The Daily Star reported. The decision followed a decision by the Cabinet in Lebanon to approve a draft law that would raise the salaries of professors.
David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba, on Thursday became the first Canadian university president to formally apologize for the residential schools that were formerly used in the country to educate many Native Canadians, with the goal of assimilating them into the dominant white culture. Barnard made his apology in a statement to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He noted that the university did not run the schools, but said that did not remove all responsibility for the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate," said Barnard. "Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry."
Trustees at Shorter University, a Baptist institution in Georgia, have voted to add a formal faith statement for the first time, as well as a "personal lifestyle statement" for all university employees that requires them to be members of a local church and and reject all sexual activity "not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."
Such requirements are not uncommon at Christian colleges, and have been a policy at Shorter for many years, vice president for public relations Dawn Tolbert wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. Still, the written statements are a first for Shorter, which also added a document on "the integration of faith and learning" that requires faculty and staff members to submit annual plans on how they will integrate their faith with their working life, as well as a philosophy on Christian education. They are part of an effort to brand the college as a more "intentionally Christian university," Tolbert said.