The University of California Hastings College of Law took last-minute action to remove its name (and to have its dean withdraw from plans to offer opening remarks) at a conference on how legal systems could be used to support Palestinian rights, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The college's board met just prior to the conference, in response to complaints from pro-Israel organizations that said the conference was one-sided. Many faculty members say that the academic freedom of conference organizers was violated when the dean was told not to welcome participants.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Ohio State University has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a freshman who was crushed to death in an elevator on campus in 2006, The Columbus Dispatch reported. In turn, five companies will make payments to Ohio State. Ohio authorities determined that the elevator's brake had failed and that it could not support the weight it was supposed to.
Moravian College has announced that it will give future applicants the option of not submitting SAT or ACT scores. Those who pursue this option will be required to have a personal interview. After three years, the college will evaluate whether the shift to a test-optional policy is working. Bernard Story, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions, said that the college's research "has found that while it is true that standardized test scores can help predict academic success, a student's performance in the classroom is the most important factor.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and some students are charging the University of California at Davis with spying on protesters by developing plans to monitor and attend various rallies, The Sacramento Bee reported. The ACLU and students used open records requests to obtain documents about various university strategies to monitor student plans and to attend rallies. University officials said that their actions were legal and were designed to protect public safety, not to squelch debate or protest.
The membership of the Common Application is about to grow by 48 colleges, to a total of 460. While the Common Application was founded 35 years ago, half of its membership has joined in the last decade. And while the program was once associated with small liberal arts colleges, it has expanded in recent years. This year's additions include two flagship public universities -- the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Kentucky -- on top of 10 other flagships added in the past few years. Public institutions now make up 12 percent of the colleges in the program -- a record high. Another notable addition this year is Howard University, the fifth historically black college to participate.
Liberty University last week temporarily blocked access to a local newspaper, The News & Advance, from the campus network, the newspaper reported. Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of the university, declined to say why the newspaper was blocked, but said that, as a private university, the administration could "block a number of sites at will." He added that "[m]ost of the websites that are blocked have to do with obscene material, material that is inappropriate.... It just so happened last week The News & Advance was blocked for a day or two. We’re a private organization and we don’t have to give a reason and we’re not.” Jim Romenesko's Poynter Institute blog reported (and subsequently updated the item) that Liberty acted in the wake of an article in the newspaper noting that Liberty was the top recipient in Virginia of federal student aid.
A new state audit has identified numerous financial problems at Chicago State University, disappointing officials who hoped that a new administration there would put an end to such issues, the Chicago Tribune reported. Among the problems identified were a period of several months last year when the university did not send bills to students, and paying vendors more than they were entitled to under contracts. The university did not dispute the findings.
The University of Illinois on Tuesday said it would appeal a federal judge's ruling last month that, if upheld, could make it harder for public universities to cite a federal student privacy law to deny requests for information by reporters or others. In the announcement, which seeks a stay of the judge's March ruling, Illinois officials said that the decision "threatens the privacy of student records and millions of dollars in federal education funds the University receives annually." It does so, the university argued, by putting it "in the predicament" of having to violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act if it is to comply with the Chicago Tribune's request under a state open-records law for records about politically connected applicants.