Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 18, 2014

L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, issued a statement on Saturday expressing support for the MIT students behind the start-up Tidbit, which involves the controversial alternative currency Bitcoin. New Jersey authorities are investigating the company, and have demanded extensive documents (including code) from the students. Some at MIT were concerned last week that the institute was not backing the students, a concern reflected in the continued soul-searching at MIT over the suicide of Aaron Swartz. The letter from Reif said MIT was helping the students, and their lawyers. And Reif said he was asking MIT officials to create a system so that MIT student entrepreneurs could find "independent legal advice" when they need it.

"I want to make it clear that the students who created Tidbit have the full and enthusiastic support of MIT," Reif wrote. He said that the case "highlights issues central to sustaining the creative culture of MIT."

February 18, 2014

The University of Mississippi is offering a $25,000 reward for information about an incident early Sunday morning in which two men allegedly defaced a campus statue of James Meredith while yelling racial slurs. According to the university's statement, the statue of Meredith, who integrated the institution more than 50 years ago, "had been draped with a noose and an old Georgia state flag, and the men were heard shouting racial slurs." "These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values," Chancellor Dan Jones said in a prepared statement.

February 17, 2014

In November, black male undergraduates at the University of California at Los Angeles released a video about the challenges they face as part of an extreme minority. Now black UCLA law students have followed with a video called "33," referring to their number among 1,100 law students. In the video, students describe feeling isolated, stereotyped and unwelcome. The media contact for the law school did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

February 17, 2014

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced Sunday that the state would start supporting college degree programs in state prisons. Since Congress barred the use of Pell Grants for prisoners in 1994, many higher education programs in prisons have been eliminated or substantially reduced, making the New York State initiative notable as a move in the opposite direction. New York will offer associate and bachelor's programs in 10 prisons (one in each region of the state). Governor Cuomo said that the state would end up saving money on the effort. The state will pay roughly $5,000 a year to educate a prisoner, but the state pays $60,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner. The state's recidivism rate is currently 40 percent, but studies have shown that inmates who earn college degrees are far less likely than other prisoners to return to jail.

"Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more," said a statement from Cuomo.

February 17, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Seth Bruggeman of Temple University reveals why George Washington’s status as a Virginian made him a symbol of national unity. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 17, 2014

Gregory D. Jordan has resigned as president of King University in Tennessee amid increasing criticism from faculty members and alumni, The Times News of Kingport, Tenn., reported. While board members defended him, critics said he was shifting attention to branch campuses and ignoring the concerns of those on the main campus.

February 17, 2014

University of Chicago students have been stunned by the death of a student whose body was decomposing in his residence hall room, The Chicago Tribune reported. The student's body was discovered Saturday after other students reported on an odor coming from the room. The cause of death has not been determined. University officials said that the student had last used his key card eight days before his body was discovered. “It was just really surprising to me to think somebody on this campus could go unnoticed for so long,” Tinley Melvin, a junior, told the Tribune. “It’s everyone’s worst fear that they would be so anonymous."

February 17, 2014

Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke an NBA Celebrity All-Star Game record Friday night, with 20 points. One pass in particular has the basketball blogosphere singing the secretary's praises.

 

 

February 17, 2014

Temple University cut seven varsity sports mostly men's teams, in December in part to help bring the program into Title IX compliance, but it seems that didn’t do the trick. The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights notified Temple President Neil Theobald on Monday that it is investigating whether the university is “failing to provide equal athletic opportunity for female athletes compared to male athletes, with regard to locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, housing and dining facilities and services, and in the area of athletic financial assistance.”  Title IX was one reason Temple said it would cut five men’s teams – baseball, indoor and outdoor track and field, gymnastics and crew – and two women’s teams – softball and rowing – at the end of this year, but Theobald also said the sports weren’t financially viable. A Temple spokesman confirmed the investigation, which was first reported by Philly.com.

February 17, 2014

The University of Saskatchewan has told David Williams, an associate professor in the business school, to remove posters with profanity and blow-up dolls in business attire from his office, CTV Saskatoon reported.  Daphne Taras, the business dean said of the nontraditional nature of his office: “It’s not a little bit. It’s a lot. The entire thing crosses a line from sort of edgy to creepy. An office provided on public funds that is part of an employment setting should not be such that students, faculty or staff should be offended when they walk in.” Williams has filed a grievance asking for permission to keep his office decorated as he sees fit.

 

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