A group called Jewish Voice for Peace -- which is highly critical of Israel's government -- is organizing petitions and hoping to force votes by TIAA-CREF to divest from holdings in companies that the group says "proï¬t from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." The group notes past TIAA-CREF policies on investments in companies linked to the Sudan and says that Israel should be the next country sanctioned in this way. TIAA-CREF is opposing the divestment idea. "While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views. Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy," said a statement from the pension giant. As to the Sudan comparison, TIAA-CREF noted that its policies there have been consistent with those of the U.S. government, which does not endorse a boycott of Israel. "We believe that concerns about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are best addressed by U.S. foreign policy and lend themselves less to using one’s shareholder status to influence portfolio companies," said the statement.
Higher Education Quick Takes
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
To submit a listing, click here.
Wesley College, a small Mississippi institution, is closing, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. The college has about 140 students most semesters, and has been struggling with debt from a new dormitory and drops in donations.
The University of Toronto is closing its Center for Comparative Literature as part of a plan to save money and consolidate certain areas in the humanities, The Globe and Mail reported. While the university says that the changes reflect the way comparative literature has entered the academy broadly, negating the need for a free-standing center, many scholars disagree and argue that a key program is being lost.
When they're criticized for doing too little to measure how much and how well their students learn, colleges often complain that they don't get enough credit for the assessment activity in which they engage. A new report suggests that the institutions themselves are partially responsible for that gap. "Exploring the Landscape: What Institutional Websites Reveal About Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Activities," released by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, compared what campus provosts said their institutions were doing on assessment with the information about assessment that was available on the colleges' Web sites. “To the extent an institution’s website is a window into its performance, this study shows that schools need to do more to inform the public about what they are doing with regard to assessing student learning outcomes,” said George Kuh, the Indiana University professor who heads NILOA.
Twenty-seven colleges and universities have filed a brief with a federal appeals court backing the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in its dispute with a sports artist that the university says did not have the right to paint and sell images of Crimson Tide football games, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The universities include all Southeastern Conference members except Mississippi State University. Prominent backers from other conferences include the University of Notre Dame, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
A joint faculty-alumni committee charged with investigating complaints about athletic budgets (and deficits) at the University of California at Berkeley has confirmed many of them. An "explosion of controllable and semi-controllable costs" in athletics, the committee's report says, "makes it clear that intercollegiate athletics has been playing by a very different set of budgetary rules from the rest of the campus." The report contrasts staffing cuts that have had severe impact on academics with the growth in staffing and program spending in athletics. "The culture of what has appeared to be unconstrained spending must change," the report says. The report also notes many contributions from athletics -- and from a big-time athletics program -- for Berkeley, but calls for the elimination of current budget patterns.
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education voted last week to ask state officials to give the Oregon University System more autonomy in return for certain accountability measures, The Oregonian reported. Under the plan, the universities would get more control over tuition, purchasing rules and budgets generally. But at the same time, the universities would have to commit to specific goals in enrollment, graduation rates, research and other measures.
Tennessee lawmakers are authorizing $15 million to stabilize a prepaid tuition program that was supposed to be self-sustaining but that is in danger of falling behind on its commitments, Nashville Public Radio reported. The bailout follows one in 2007 as the stock market started to decline.
Rev. Paul Leo Locatelli, who was for 20 years president of Santa Clara University, died Monday morning of pancreatic cancer. At the time of his death, he was secretary of higher education for the international Society of Jesus. Details about his life may be found here.