Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities arrested seven students at Emory University Monday night, following a series of sit-ins, Fox Atlanta News reported. The students are protesting Emory's dealings with a food service provider.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The for-profit higher education industry spent $8.1 million on lobbying activities in 2010, up from $3.3 million the year before, according to an analysis by The Huffington Post of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. The Huffington Post emphasized the sharp increase in such spending at a time of proposals to increase regulation of for-profit colleges. But Harris Miller, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, said that the lobbying was "not unique in any sense, any more than it is for traditional higher education lobbying to get earmarks for their schools, or Boeing or defense contractors using their money to promote an agenda, which is to win a contract of the U.S. government."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Sometimes slow and steady is the way to get to graduation. Iowa State University has announced that one of its graduates this year -- Kathy Vitzthum -- will be finishing her bachelor's degree in accounting after taking one course a semester, for 19 years. She will graduate summa cum laude, having managed to finish her degree while also balancing family and job responsibilities.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The Law School Admission Council announced Monday that it has agreed to make changes on its website that will make it all accessible to blind users, and that these changes are part of a settlement of a lawsuit against the council by the National Federation of the Blind. While much of the law school group's website was already accessible through various screen-reading technologies, the portion used for law school applications was not accessible, leading to the suit.

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The City of Boston has formally asked nonprofit organizations to pay up to 25 percent of the property tax bills they would face if they were not tax-exempt, The Boston Globe reported. Many nonprofits already make "payments in lieu of taxes" in recognition of the demands their students and faculty members place on city services, so some nonprofit leaders (including some of those in higher education) are not concerned by the formal request from the city. Others, however, see the potential for such demands to erode their nonprofit tax status.

The colleges and universities already making voluntary payments -- according to a Globe analysis -- would generally have a ways to go to meet the level demanded by the city. Harvard University currently pays $2.1 million to Boston, but the city wants $5.8 million. Boston University pays $5.1 million now, but the city wants $6.8 million. Northeastern University currently pays a little more than $30,000, but the city wants $4.3 million.

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Sally Jackson has resigned as chief information officer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to object to a reorganization of her reporting structure, The News-Gazette reported. Under the shift, the CIOs of the three campuses in the system will no longer report to their respective provosts, but instead to a new university system CIO. The central administration says the shift will promote efficiency and will not distance the CIOs from their campuses, but Jackson and many faculty leaders at Urbana-Champaign object to the reorganization, saying it will shift technology functions from an academic to an administrative focus.

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

For several days last month, an earringed, mustachioed employee named Pete Weston did a range of jobs (with mixed success) at the University of California at Riverside. Only weeks later did campus employees find out that Weston had actually been Chancellor Timothy P. White, who on May 1 will become the first higher education leader to appear on CBS's "Undercover Boss," which puts corporate (and now campus) chief executive officers in disguise to see how their organizations work from the ground up. White said he learned much about the campus and was "moved and changed as a person" by participating in the hugely popular, if critically unacclaimed, show and seeing the "level of dedication of our students, staff and faculty."

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Columbia University on Friday announced that it has signed an agreement to reinstate on campus a unit of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. The move follows extensive campus debate and is consistent with the statements of university leaders who in years past have said that they would act once the military stopped discriminating against gay people. Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president, said in a statement: "Repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law provided a historic opportunity for our nation to live up to its ideals of equality and also for universities to reconsider their relationships with the military."

Some other universities that have barred ROTC are expected to follow. Stanford University on Friday announced that a committee studying the issue there has recommended the return of ROTC. The Faculty Senate is expected to vote on the issue on Thursday.

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Black athletes are charging that Brigham Young University is tougher in enforcing its honor code on them than on other athletes or on other students, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Many of the athletes accuse the university of using a "bait and switch" approach to recruiting, telling them that Brigham Young is like any other college, and then enforcing an honor code that bars premarital sex, drinking and other activities that would be standard for most college students. The university says that it enforces the honor code without regard to race.

An analysis in Deadspin found that since 1993, at least 70 athletes have been suspended, dismissed or put on probation because of honor code violations. Just under 60 percent of those punished have been black men (a figure that may be low because the race of some of those punished could not be identified). The article in Deadspin, comparing the 60 percent figure to the total minority share of athletes at Brigham Young (23 percent) and of black people in the student body (0.6 percent), argues that "something is amiss."

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Denise McKahn of Smith College outlines the challenges colleges and universities face when attempting to achieve carbon neutrality. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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