James H. Ammons announced Wednesday that he will resign as president of Florida A&M University in October. His letter did not detail intense criticism he has faced since last year's hazing death of a student. Since then, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the university did not act aggressively to prevent hazing in the marching band that has been linked to the hazing death and widespread hazing. The Florida A&M board has voted no confidence in Ammons, and state officials have also raised questions about financial and management problems unrelated to the hazing death.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Thirty-four percent of the presidents of Japanese universities said that class content is boring and not aligned with student interests, according to a survey by the Japanese government, Daily Yomiuri Online reported. Many presidents suggested that more participatory classroom activities were needed. Nearly 75 percent of presidents said that students weren't spending enough time studying.
A distance learning group is raising an alarm about a change to Pell Grants in a Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that, if signed into law, could cut the need-based grants for students taking online classes. A provision in the bill, which would increase the overall Pell Grant next year, would stop allowing students taking online classes to claim room and board expenses, as well as "miscellaneous personal expenses," as part of their cost of living when applying for Pell Grants.
Currently, Pell Grants take all forms of expenses into account for all students, whether they're commuters, residential students or enrolled in online or distance learning programs. Students would still be able to use those expenses when applying for student loans or other forms of financial aid. "It is hard to understand why the cost for a student’s living expenses are not allowable if the student takes online courses, but would be allowable if that same student were to commute to campus to take the same courses in a classroom," wrote Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
For many years, critics have derided "legislative scholarships" in Illinois that allow legislators to give scholarships to public universities to students in their districts, with very few limitations. On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed legislation to kill off the program, The Chicago Tribune reported. Several Tribune investigations focused on the fairness of the program. In 2009, the newspaper found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of campaign donors.
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has voted to strip Mountain State University of accreditation. The action, if not reversed or successfully appealed, would make students at the West Virginia university ineligible for federal student aid, potentially making it impossible for the institution to function. A statement by the Higher Learning Commission identified numerous, serious violations of the commission's standards. The commission said that Mountain State doesn't meet the requirement that an "institution operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students," and fails to meet a requirement that "the institution’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.” For instance, the commission found that Mountain State "has not planned realistically to address challenges ... [and] lacks adequate human and financial resources to fulfill its mission."
Mountain State's board issued a statement vowing to appeal the decision. "We are surprised because the report ignores the significant progress that has been made since the Higher Learning Commission notified the University of its concerns a year ago. Major changes have been undertaken in all of the areas of concern that were cited by the Higher Learning Commission and significant progress has been demonstrated in implementing these changes," said the board statement.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday rejected a harassment lawsuit against Southern Illinois University by a student who complained of inappropriate remarks and actions by an emeritus professor. While the court found that the actions by the emeritus professor, if accurately described, were "despicable," the university "responded reasonably" to the complaints, and could not be found liable as a result.
Hundreds of Canadian scientists staged an unusual protest Tuesday, wearing their lab coats to Parliament, where they rallied against government policies that they said were leading to the "death of evidence," The Globe and Mail reported. They criticized a number of policies of Canada's conservative government, including the elimination of funds for a research station that has collected data relevant to climate change, and what the scientists said was the government's policy of favoring job creation over environmental research.
The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents has reprimanded President Susan Martin for a drunken argument she had with an alumnus at an event in Washington, AnnArbor.com reported. "We have become aware of a recent incident in Washington, D.C. in which you conducted yourself in a way that was inappropriate for your position and reflected poorly on the university," a letter from the board says. "The incident involved the consumption of alcohol." The letter also said that board members were concerned about Martin's "misuse of alcohol" and "concerned about you as a person." The board letter noted that Martin's alcohol consumption could damage the reputation of the university, and create liability issues. Martin sent a campuswide e-mail in which she apologized for the incident. She also disclosed a DWI she received in 2005 (of which she said board members had been aware).