The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement denouncing as "harmful to one's moral and spiritual life" a 2008 book by two theologians at Creighton University, a Roman Catholic institution. The book, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, by Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler, was published by Georgetown University Press, and the press website features much praise for the work. In the book, the authors offer views that differ from traditional church teachings on a variety of issues related to sex. The authors were not available for comment. Creighton issued a statement to The Omaha World-Herald saying that the institution is committed both to Catholic teachings and to academic freedom.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Much has been made in recent months about the increasingly intensive political activity in which for-profit colleges and their employees have been engaging in the face of the related increasingly intensive federal regulatory and legislative scrutiny buffeting the institutions. That political tradition is matched by two others that a new report reaffirms: the heavy financial contributions by higher education employees to political campaigns, and the overwhelming bias of that giving toward Democratic candidates. The report, by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group, breaks down political giving by college employees leading up to November's 2010 midterm elections, and shows how heavily the donations tilt left. (There are exceptions, with employees at the Universities of Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia giving predominantly, and workers at Calvin College and the College of Lake County giving almost exclusively, to Republicans.) A table below includes the top 10 institutions (and educational groups) in political giving so far this year:
| By Political
| % to
| % to
|University of California||$483,981||$0||$483,981||86%||14%|
|Career College Association||$226,111||$206,311||$19,800||66%||34%|
|University of Texas||$139,867||$0||$139,867||83%||17%|
Grambling State University officials are consulting lawyers following complaints by civil liberties groups over the university's ban on students and faculty members using campus e-mail systems for political solicitations, The News Star reported. The university said it was trying to comply with state law barring the use of state resources for political activity, but the complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education say that the university's interpretation goes too far in limiting free expression.
A former assistant to Mills College's president has sued the institution for wrongful termination, charging that Mills fired her after she complained that the president's dog had bitten her, the Contra Costa Times reported. According to the newspaper's account, Pamela Reid's lawsuit asserts that she lost her job as assistant to President Janet Holmgren in January, several months after she called Oakland Animal Services to report that Holmgren's dog, a terrier mix, had bitten her outside the president's on-campus home in August 2009. Mills officials called the lawsuit "meritless." No word on the fate of the dog.
Drew University students are complaining that the university has made it a bit more difficult for them to obtain free condoms, The Star-Ledger reported. Students can get free condoms by asking dormitory resident advisors for them. In the past, the university had condoms for the taking in a wicker basket in the lobby of the university health office, but changed the system because students were grabbing handfuls of them at once -- and sometimes taking the basket too, officials said. Students say that they may be embarrassed to ask their R.A.'s for the condoms. But a university spokesman said: "If a student is mature enough to engage in sexual activity, they should be mature enough to ask for a condom or buy them. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own health and welfare."
Wednesday marked the official launch of a new federal panel designed to recommend how to ensure that American research universities remain vital and effective. The Committee on Research Universities, sponsored by the National Academies and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, includes corporate CEOs, university leaders, and others, and is charged with answering this question: "What are the top ten actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?” A report is due next May.
Students were charged more than $795 million to support athletics programs at 222 public universities that play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I in 2008-9, up an inflation-adjusted 18 percent since 2005, an analysis by USA Today finds. The newspaper's review, part of a continuing series of reports on college sports finances, also reveals that some institutions do not disclose their per-student athletics fee charges -- which are increasingly subsidizing money-losing athletics programs -- on their billing statements, websites or in other official school publications. Student athletics fees are typically charged to offset the costs of subsidized or free tickets to events for students, but students (or their parents) pay them even if the students don't (or can't) go to the games.
A panel convened by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents to examine policies on students who are in the United States illegally is recommending that academically competitive campuses turn away such students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. According to the newspaper, the committee's proposal would bar undocumented students from attending the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and any other public college that doesn’t have the space to admit all academically qualified applicants, under a recommendation a state committee approved Tuesday. The committee assembled by the State Board of Regents also recommended that all Georgia colleges verify every admitted student seeking in-state tuition to determine whether the student is in the country legally. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for in-state tuition.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Colorado at Boulder will pay the Big 12 Conference $9.255 million and $7 million, respectively, to end their affiliations with the league and shift next year to the Big 10 and Pacific-10 Conferences, respectively, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald and one on ESPN. The two institutions announced their plans to bolt the Big 12 for bigger, richer leagues in June.
Vice President Biden heralded the work of research universities at a round table Tuesday on the impact that federal stimulus funds have had in promoting job growth and economic competitiveness. At the start of the discussion, most of which was closed to reporters, Biden described research spending as “among the most critical parts” of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, and said criticism of federal spending on research was shortsighted -- and out of step with the view in competitive countries such as China and India. “Our economic future will grow from ideas that are incubating at universities. That’s the breeding ground and it always has been," he said, surrounded by presidents from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Washington State Universities and the Universities of California, Florida and Pennsylvania. “The rest of the world gets this, and we can’t afford to lag behind,” he said. “We cannot afford to not rededicate ourselves to the work you guys around the table do.”