College boards at public and private institutions are still dominated by men, and about half of members have business backgrounds, according to two reports released Monday by the Association of Governing Boards. The survey of more than 700 institutions found men outnumbered women by more than two to one at both public and private colleges, noting that boards were about 70 percent male at private colleges and about 72 percent male at public institutions. More than 49 percent of public trustees come from business, compared with 53 percent with business backgrounds at private colleges. There has been a small shift in other areas of diversity since 2004. The membership of private boards was 11.9 percent racial and ethnic minorities in that year, compared with 12.5 percent in 2010. At public institutions, racial and ethnic minority representation grew from 21.3 percent to 23.1 percent during the same period.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students in Italy have been staging a series of dramatic protests across Italy -- breaking into the Italian Senate, sitting on railroad tracks, and so forth -- to protest government plans to reform higher education, The New York Times reported. Researchers have joined the protest, sleeping in sleeping bags on the roofs of some universities. The anger is over the lack of funds that has resulted in chronically overcrowded classes, the potential for new cuts, and government plans that critics say will make the problems worse. The government says its plans would provide financial rewards to institutions that perform well.
Facing a $32.1 million debt, Hebrew College will sell its campus, featuring a building by the noted architect Moshe Safdie, The Boston Globe reported. The Massachusetts college offers a range of programs in Jewish education and religion. The college will still need private donations to retire its debt. Officials said that they regretted having to sell the campus, but decided that they needed to take steps to have financial stability. The college -- which has more than 1,400 students -- will lease space from the Andover Newton Theological School.
A new study in Academic Medicine finds that the average tenure of first-time medical deans (excluding those serving on an interim basis) is six years, although it may have dropped slightly in recent years. Generally, the study suggests that the tenure is longer than earlier studies have suggested.
Tennessee has halted the enrollment of new students into its prepaid tuition program, after officials determined that the program could no longer be sure of having enough money to meet the obligations to new students, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported. The state plans to keep its commitment to students already enrolled in the program. Many prepaid tuition programs have faced difficulties in recent years as they were built on assumptions of healthy investment returns.
An animal rights group this month sent David Jentsch, who uses rodents and primates in his neuroscience research, a package with razor blades and a threatening message, the Los Angeles Times reported. UCLA professors have been the targets of repeated threats and acts of vandalism from underground animal rights groups. Jentsch issued a statement vowing to continue his work. "Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do," he said. "We will continue to do so because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world."
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is raising concerns about legislation proposed in Congress and passed by legislators (but awaiting the governor's signature) in New Jersey that would require colleges to have policies to bar cyber-bullying, among other forms of harassment. The federal and state proposals are named for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after images of his encounter with a man were allegedly broadcast. FIRE issued a statement arguing that there are existing laws to punish those who invade students' privacy (as in the Clementi case) or who engage in harassment, and that the new legislation would create "a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus."
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that three female faculty members at Seton Hall University may move ahead with their lawsuit charging that they were illegally paid less than younger, male professors, The NJ.com Statehouse Bureau reported. At issue in the Supreme Court case was whether the women could sue over discrimination that they allege predates the statute of limitation (two years) on such litigation. The Supreme Court ruled that if pay they women received within the two years was based on past discriminatory actions, then the more recent pay could be the subject of a lawsuit.
Students at several Texas colleges have started hunger strikes with the aim of convincing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, to support the DREAM Act when it comes up for an expected Senate vote next week, The San Antonio News-Express reported. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for many students who came to the United States at young ages with their parents, without legal authorization, and have been educated in the United States. The hunger strike started at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has spread to involve students at UT campuses at Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg and also at the University of North Texas.
The Faculty Senate at Northeastern Illinois University voted no confidence Tuesday in Sharon Hahs, president of the university, and Lawrence Frank, provost and vice president for academic affairs.The Faculty Senate cited a series of instances involving budget and curricular matters in which it says the views of faculty members were either ignored or not sought. Hahs issued a statement Tuesday saying: “These are very difficult times for Northeastern. Tensions are high as the administration and the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, are in the midst of lengthy and difficult contract negotiations.”