Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 19, 2013

Six students at the City University of New York were arrested on Tuesday for protesting the university’s decision to hire David Petraeus, former military leader and ex-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to reports from Al Jazeera America. The demonstrators are upset that the university hired Petraeus, whom they consider a war criminal, according to the report. University faculty members and administrators released statements earlier this week, calling for peaceful disagreement and supporting Petraeus’s right to teach.

The University Faculty Senate said demonstrators must respect CUNY’s policy of academic freedom for faculty members. “Professor Petraeus, and all members of CUNY's instructional staff, have the right to teach without interference,” the University Faculty Senate statement read. “Members of the university community must have the opportunity to express alternate views, but in a manner that does not violate academic freedom.” 

The dean of CUNY’s Honors College also released a statement encouraging civil dialogue about complex issues. “We may disagree, but we must always do so in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding,” Ann Kirschner said in a statement. “While the college supports the articulation of all points of view on critical issues, it is essential that dialogue within the academic setting always be conducted civilly.”

Petraeus was the subject of controversy earlier in the summer, when it was reported that he would be paid $200,000 to teach at the honors college. It was later announced that Petraeus would teach the course for $1.

September 19, 2013

Adrian College has announced that it will repay all or part of the student loans of new graduates who fail to get jobs that pay at least $37,000. Under the plan, the college will make all of loan repayments due for of those who don't have a job that pays at least $20,000, and then a portion of the repayments for those with salaries of $20,000 to $37,000. The idea behind the program, called Adrian Plus, is to reassure students and families that they can attend a private liberal arts college without fear of debt they can't manage upon graduation. Adrian officials stressed that, based on past patterns, the vast majority of students won't need to partipate in the program.

 

September 19, 2013

More than 5,000 incoming freshmen at City College of Dongguan University of Technology in China’s Guangdong province this year signed a “student management and self-discipline agreement” that clears the institution of any liability in the event that the signee commits suicide, China Daily reported. “Under the contract, the students have to bear all responsibility and any consequences if they commit suicide or injure themselves on campus while they are attending the university,” the report says.

September 19, 2013

Suzanne Fortier, principal and vice chancellor (the equivalent of president) of McGill University, has issued a statement in which the university formally opposes a "charter of values" proposed by Quebec's government that would bar public employees -- including those who work at universities -- from wearing religious head coverings or "overt" religious symbols. While the proposal could affect many religious people, it is widely viewed as a response to the non-Christian immigrant population in the province. "The proposal to prohibit our professors and staff from wearing visible religious symbols runs contrary to our principles. The wearing of such symbols in no way interferes with the religious and political neutrality of McGill as an institution. All the members of the university community with whom I have spoken on this issue are clearly worried about the proposal, and would like to see it withdrawn," said Fortier's statement. The Montreal Gazette reported that other universities are also concerned about the proposal, but that McGill is the first to take so public a stance.

 

September 19, 2013

Higher Education for Development (HED) faces a possible 80 percent reduction in its operating budget, which could force it to close out its grant programs prematurely. HED, which manages development-oriented partnerships between American universities and institutions abroad as a subcontractor of sorts for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was informed by the agency via an August 7 e-mail that its operating budget for the fiscal year starting October 1 will be just $1 million – a drop from $4.9 million this current year.

“We said at that level we close everything down by the middle of December and it will be utter chaos,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs for the American Council on Education, which oversees HED. “They [U.S.A.I.D.] said that’s not what we had in mind; we need to think about another way to do this.”

For its part U.S.A.I.D. said in a statement that "discussions with ACE/HED regarding programming and budget levels are ongoing at this time, and no final decisions have been made. U.S.A.I.D. is highly committed to increasing our engagement with higher education institutions to harness their intellectual energies, research capabilities, community connections, and capacity building expertise to address the toughest development challenges."

Hartle said that ACE and HED have not received anything in writing about the budget since the August 7 e-mail. He said that in discussions U.S.A.I.D. has been very clear that it does not want to force the end of any partnerships prematurely. "They'd like to have the partnerships run, but they would like to not have to pay the cost of having them monitored and evaluated according to the U.S.A.I.D. standards that they have dictated," he said.

He added that the problem seems to stem from the fact that U.S.A.I.D. wants to move away from the model of having HED and other similar entities function as middlemen in awarding, managing and evaluating government grants. That’s fine, Hartle said: “Government agencies change priorities; they change directions. But what is so surprising is that they would do this so close to the start of a fiscal year without recognizing the serious consequences of taking such a step."

HED currently administers $50 million in grants, managing 41 partnerships in 25 countries involving 93 institutions. Its portfolio of projects, present and past, can be found here

September 19, 2013

The University of California System is turning to celebrities for a new crowdfounding approach to raise money for financial aid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Celebrities are pledging access and performances if their supporters can raise set amounts of money. Jamie Foxx, the actor, will for example "rap a song like Bill Clinton, President Obama  and Monique from the movie 'Precious'" if his fans raise $20,000. The idea is to attract young alumni and others who are not interested in traditional fund-raising appeals, officials said.

September 19, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced $475 million in work force development funding for community colleges. The money is the third installment of a $2 billion program the Obama administration created to encourage two-year institutions to deepen ties with employers and community partners. So far the project has drawn positive reviews. The 57 new grants will support work in every state.

September 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Lauren Hale of Stony Brook University reveals the connection between a teen’s sleep and diet choices. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 19, 2013

Occidental College has settled lawsuits filed by at least 10 current or former students who sued over the institution's handling of complaints they brought about sexual assaults, The Los Angeles Times reported. Details were not available, but reportedly include payments to the plaintiffs and a pledge on their part not to discuss their cases.

 

September 19, 2013

Noodle, the education company founded by John Katzman (who founded Princeton Review and the company now known as 2U), will today announce a new effort to make it easier for colleges to deal with all the requests they receive for data from rankings providers -- and to assure more common data. The Common Data Library will be open to any reputable ranker (a yet-to-be-determined panel of college officials will decide who qualifies) with which colleges want to share data. In theory, a college could avoid putting together separate data sets to share with the growing number of entities requesting the data. Katzman said that the approach not only would save colleges time and money (they won't be charged for the service), but would promote accuracy. He noted that -- because different rankings ask questions in slightly different ways -- single institutions can be listed as having differing tuition rates or other data points.

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