Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 17, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College, profiles biodiversity in the savannas of Africa. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 16, 2014

Urban Outfitters has apologized for selling a vintage sweatshirt that many people assumed (incorrectly, it turns out) was stained with the blood of victims of the 1970 shootings that killed four students. The company had put up for sale a "vintage" sweatshirt. The image (below) appears to show a bloodied sweatshirt, and some on social media assumed that the shirt belonged to someone who was near the victims in 1970. The university released a statement saying: "We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today." Urban Outfitters released its own statement, in which the company apologized but also said that the sweatshirt is discolored, but not stained with blood. "Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such," said the statement.

September 16, 2014

The White House plans on Friday to announce a new program, "It's on Us," to encourage male students to join efforts to prevent sexual assaults, the Associated Press reported. The campaign is based on research showing that many men are reluctant to speak out against violence against women, and that changing that attitude could prevent many assaults.


September 16, 2014

Many Yale University student groups opposed the idea that Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- a women's rights activist and a vocal, often controversial critic of Islam -- would speak there Monday without a speaker to counter her views. But she was warmly received by her audience, spoke without incident and received a standing ovation, The New Haven Register reported.


September 16, 2014

The University of California System is creating UC Ventures, a $250 million fund that will seek to invest in research developed by faculty members and students. The fund will be a stand-alone division of the university system's endowment operations, and has been directed to take a long-term approach.


September 16, 2014

Liberal comedian Bill Maher announced on his show last week that he would work to unseat Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the House education committee. 

The host of the HBO series "Real Time with Bill Maher" cited Kline's support of for-profit colleges -- and the industry's donations to his campaign -- as one of the reasons why he chose to target Kline as part of his "Flip a District" campaign. Maher said he would travel to Kline's Minnesota district and perform a stand-up comedy show in an attempt to swing the seat from Republican to Democratic. 

Kline, after heading off a tough primary challenge earlier this year, is facing Democratic candidate Mike Obermueller, a former state lawmaker whom he defeated in 2012. 

September 16, 2014

The Barack Obama Foundation on Monday named four finalists that have been invited to submit full proposals to host President Obama's library. They are: Columbia University, and the Universities of Chicago, Illinois at Chicago and Hawaii.

September 16, 2014

Faculty members at the University of West Florida criticized their president, Judy Bense, Monday before the university's Board of Trustees; the move followed a Faculty Senate vote of no confidence in the president last week. Faculty members want Bense to step down in June, when her contract expires, the Pensacola News-Journal reported, with some saying that her standards for student admissions are too low and that she puts promoting the university's sports programs ahead of academics.

In response to faculty concerns, the board voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution in support of the president. They've praised her leadership, saying she helped the university earn its spot on Forbes's "America's Top Colleges" list, among other national rankings. The News-Journal said that Bense had acknowledged that some students who enrolled in the university on her watch should not have been able to, and she pledged to move the university up from last in the state's rating system. That position resulted in a $4 million withholding of state funds this year.

September 16, 2014

A new paper on creating global learning experiences at historically black colleges and universities finds that resource constraints significantly inhibit internationalization efforts. The paper, from the American Council on Education, also emphasizes the central role senior leaders play in creating global learning environments and the need for a broadly shared understanding of the rationale for internationalization efforts. 

“The challenges HBCUs face in internationalization won’t be unfamiliar to other institutions, but the unique environments of HBCUs made some of the challenges seem more pronounced,” Gailda P. Davis, the report author and ACE’s associate director of inclusive excellence, said in a press release.

September 16, 2014

One of the main lobbying organizations that represnts loan servicers and other student loan entities has named its new president.

The Education Finance Council on Monday said that Debra J. Chromy would lead the group. Chromy was most recently a vice president at American Student Assistance. She replaces Vince Sampson, who left the council earlier this year to join a law firm.

The group represents nonprofit and state entities that provide student loans, as well as loan servicers, which have increasingly faced scrutiny in Washington over how well they help struggling borrowers avoid default.


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