Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 17, 2014

Phil Hanlon, president of Dartmouth College, Wednesday night told student leaders that it was time for the institution to end certain behaviors that he said are undermining the college's outstanding undergraduate education and experience.

"Dartmouth's promise is being hijacked, hijacked by extreme and harmful behaviors, masked by their perpetrators as acceptable fun," Hanlson said. "The list of offenses is familiar. From sexual assaults on campus … to dangerous drinking that has become more the rule than the exception … to a general disregard for human dignity as exemplified by hazing, events with racist and sexist undertones, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the Internet … a social scene that is too often at odds with the practices of inclusion that students are right to expect on a college campus in 2014."

Hanlon said that these behaviors are hurting the college, citing a decline in applications this year as one example. "We can no longer allow this college to be held back by the few who wrongly hide harmful behaviors behind the illusion of youthful exuberance. Routinized excessive drinking, sexual misconduct, and blatant disregard of social norms have no place at Dartmouth. Enough is enough."

He called for a task force -- including students -- to move to come up with strategies for changing campus culture.

 

April 17, 2014

The University of Illinois at Chicago has agreed to a tentative contract with the United Faculty Union, whose members went on a two-day strike in February seeking what they called a living wage for full-time, non-tenure-track professors and better pay for tenure-line faculty, among other goals. The union, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, announced the agreement Wednesday but said details are embargoed through the end of next week, when members put it to a vote. In a news release, the union said "[m]any aspects of faculty work life and professional conditions are dramatically improved under the new agreement," and that it "averted" the possibility of a second strike planned for April 23.

University Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Provost Lon Kaufman said in a joint statement: "We are pleased that the university and the union representing bargaining units for tenure-system and non-tenure-system faculty have reached tentative agreement on final contracts. Both sides in this long process have been focused on the teaching, research and service missions of the university, and this agreement will allow us to move forward together to serve the city and the state and, most of all, our students." The statement noted that the agreement is tentative is "subject to ratification and approval by both sides."

April 16, 2014

The Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday, following a similar vote in the Senate, approved a plan by Governor Bill Haslam to offer free community college tuition to all graduates of high schools in the state, The Tennessean reported. The plan will take effect in fall 2015. Governor Haslam, a Republican, has pushed the plan as a key way for the state to encourage a larger share of the population to seek college credentials. The idea of free community college tuition has also been discussed in other states, but the Tennessee plan -- with the strong advocacy of a governor -- has attracted attention nationally and is now being adopted.

April 16, 2014

Virginia Intermont College announced Tuesday that its planned merger with Webber International University would not go through. The two institutions "have reached the joint and difficult conclusion that we do not have a viable model for merger in July. This deeply saddens the administration and the boards of each school, as we have very high regard for one another and we both strongly believe in Webber’s goal of uniting small colleges in order to preserve their identities," the statement said. Virginia Intermont has been struggling financially and hoped that linking up with a larger, business oriented university like Webber would allow the liberal arts program in Virginia to survive. Tuesday's statement said that the university would finish the semester and offer a summer session that ends June 27. But the statement did not indicate how the college plans to operate after that.

The Washington Post noted that Virginia Intermont's enrollment in the fall was 378, a 35 percent decline since 2010.

 

April 16, 2014

Ball State University is planning to toughen post-tenure review to weed out "chronic low performers" on the faculty, The Star Press reported. Under the plan, faculty members whose performance is unsatisfactory two years in a row or three years out of five will be given a year to improve or to face termination. Ball State officials said that only a very small share of faculty members fit this category, but that failing to deal with them creates extra work for other professors. Dave Pearson, chair of the University Senate, said, “It’s a very, very small problem, but it can cause real problems in small departments.... I think the faculty have bought into this."

April 16, 2014

Dartmouth College is running an advertising campaign touting its work to better prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus, to counter another online ad campaign by the women’s rights advocacy group UltraViolet, which says Dartmouth has a “rape problem.” Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the UltraViolet ads, which are aimed at prospective and current students and alumni, have been seen more than 60,000 times since they started running more than a week ago. The Dartmouth ads, which are running on websites including that of The Boston Globe, redirect readers to a web page describing how – “Consistent with President Obama’s call to action to address sexual assault” – the college is “making progress on a number of fronts.”

Dartmouth is one of a few dozen colleges whose sexual assault response is being put under the microscope by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. However, the review at Dartmouth differs from the investigations OCR has recently opened at dozens of other colleges in that it's a compliance review, opened proactively by OCR, and did not stem from an official federal complaint (by a student or otherwise) alleging that the college has violated Title IX.

(Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Dartmouth is undergoing a compliance review, not a Title IX complaint, by OCR.)

April 16, 2014

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Legislative Council voted Tuesday to let Division I institutions offer free unlimited meals, not just the standard three a day, for athletes, USA Today reported. The change still requires approval by the Division I board.

April 16, 2014

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles and essays -- in print-on-demand format -- about the flipped classroom. The articles and essays reflect key discussions about pedagogy, technology and the role of faculty members. Download the booklet here.

This booklet is part of a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Thursday May 8, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles. To register for the webinar, please click here.

 

April 16, 2014

A University of Calgary student has been charged in stabbing to death five other students early Tuesday morning, at a party held to mark the end of the semester, The Calgary Herald reported. Authorities said that the victims were "targeted one by one."

April 16, 2014

The National Federation of the Blind announced Tuesday that it plans protests for the campus of Atlantic Cape Community College. The group says that the New Jersey college not only fails to provide basic technology services needed by blind students, but that it has required a blind student to be accompanied by a sighted person when using certain facilities. A spokesman for the college denied that there is such a requirement, and said that aides are provided upon request. The spokesman added that "the college has made outreach to the National Federation of the Blind to discuss college policy, procedure and practice.  We respect the public’s right to free speech, and remain open to a continued dialogue about our programs and services."

 

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