Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 12, 2018

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today our latest print-on-demand compilation, "Key Issues on Student Debt." You may download a copy free, here. And you may sign up here for a free webcast on the themes of the booklet on Tuesday, July 10, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

June 12, 2018

The leaders of the three California public higher education systems on Monday issued a statement opposing the PROSPER Act, House Republicans' proposal to overhaul the Higher Education Act.

"Our public institutions of higher education are committed to providing affordable, accessible, and equitable pathways to success for our students and increasing the well-being of all Californians. HEA reauthorization provides an opportunity to develop federal education policies that promote these goals. Unfortunately, we have significant concerns with many of the changes proposed in the PROSPER Act, which we believe would undermine our efforts and increase college costs for California’s students and families," wrote University of California president Janet Napolitano, California State University chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

The three cited elimination of federal student aid programs, termination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, reduced consumer protections and lower funding for minority-serving institutions among their objections.

June 12, 2018

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has started a "systemic investigation into the University of Southern California’s (USC) handling of reports of sexual harassment against former employee Dr. George Tyndall," the department announced Monday. Tyndall has been accused of abusing hundreds of USC students while working in the campus health center. Some who say they were abused say they reported the abuse to the university and nothing happened.

June 12, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, James Shepperd, professor of psychology at the University of Florida, looks at one of the dividing lines and how both sides are actually concerned with the same thing. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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June 11, 2018

DePaul University announced 62 layoffs last week, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. A university statement said that the layoffs were part of "major cost-saving measures and strategic reductions in the FY19 budget, primarily in administrative and support expenses. These structural changes will place the university in a better long-term position to invest in strategic growth."

Meanwhile, 13 layoffs at Saint Anselm College (a much smaller institution than is DePaul) have left many students and alumni angry. A petition questions how decisions were made about the layoffs and criticizes the way the college failed to communicate about them.

A spokeswoman sent the following statement: "Although thankfully our enrollment and endowment are stronger than ever, this spring Saint Anselm College engaged in a strategic financial review, encompassing policies, programs and positions. This was done in the interest of ensuring a stable, healthy long-term financial future for the institution, particularly with regard to lowering our overall expense growth for long term projections. As result, reductions in operating expenses were achieved through various initiatives, including changing policies, eliminating or reducing certain programs, and not filling some roles that had been vacated. Ultimately, we also made the difficult decision to eliminate 13 existing administrative and staff positions (no faculty positions) across all levels and divisions."

June 11, 2018

The Executive Committee of the Southern Illinois University board was scheduled to meet Friday to discuss possible plans to remove Randy Dunn as system president. But the meeting was called off at the last minute, with the board chair saying that there was no need for an emergency meeting, The Southern Illinoisan reported.  Dunn has numerous critics among professors and politicians, so his long-term job security remains unclear. Tensions have grown since one of Dunn's email messages, denigrating faculty members, became public.

June 11, 2018

Making excuses for all-male conference panels (or citations or syllabi) just got harder. Inspired by the work of Women Also Know Stuff, an awareness campaign about the work of female political scientists, female historians recently launched Woman Also Know History. “By promoting and supporting the work of women historians, we offer a concrete way to address explicit and implicit gender bias in public and professional perceptions of historical expertise,” the group says on its searchable website, womenalsoknowhistory.com. A related social media campaign, #womenalsoknowhistory, “raises awareness of female historians, their contributions to historical knowledge, and their roles as public intellectuals.”

June 11, 2018

A 24-year-old Arizona man was arrested Saturday and faces federal charges for allegedly threatening to bomb Harvard University and shoot black students over a year ago, MassLive reports.

Nicholas Zuckerman posted comments on the university’s Instagram page in May 2017 that threatened violence at Harvard’s first black commencement ceremony, an event intended to celebrate black graduates held in addition to a traditional commencement ceremony.

“If the blacks only ceremony happens, then I encourage violence and death at it. I'm thinking two automatics with extendo clips. Just so no [expletive] gets away,” Zuckerman allegedly wrote, including a racial slur.

Zuckerman also threatened to bomb Harvard’s campus, commenting #bombharvard on multiple Instagram posts.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said that Zuckerman will be charged with two counts of transmitting in interstate and foreign commerce a threat to injure the person of another, which could result in up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

June 11, 2018

The University of Oklahoma returned donations from a retired professor of engineering accused of sexual harassment and banned him from working on campus in 2016, The Norman Transcript reported. But after old and new allegations surfaced last week, Oklahoma is reviewing his status as a professor emeritus, granted in 2007. Oklahoma reportedly first received complaints about John Scamehorn, the professor, more than two years ago. It launched an investigation and Scamehorn soon ended his associations with the College of Fine Arts and the Theatre Guild. Just recently, some 30 people, including female students or alumnae, signed a statement accusing Scamehorn of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior as a donor to the drama program and on film sets unrelated to the university. The allegations include making sexual advances, stalking and taking “embarrassing” pictures, according to the Associated Press.

"Your allegations are being investigated," the university said in a statement. "Your stories have highlighted that there may be gaps in our reporting and response, and we are actively investigating to ensure that will not happen in the future." Oklahoma has said it notified law enforcement. Local police said they first heard of the allegations against Scamehorn last week and began an investigation.

Scamehorn said in a statement that in “the strongest terms possible, I deny any wrongdoing.” The accusations first surfaced online when he promoted his short science-fiction film on a blog for "heterosexual, masculine men," according to the Associated Press. The film depicts a future in which women are hunted and killed for resisting a male-dominated society.

June 11, 2018

Facebook announced Friday that it plans to train one million people and small-business owners across the United States by 2020 so they will have the digital skills needed to find new jobs, advance from their current positions or run their companies online.

The announcement came with news that two Boston-area community colleges are the latest to join the social media company in offering a digital marketing certificate program that will use Facebook's curriculum.

Bunker Hill and Roxbury Community Colleges are joining Des Moines Area Community College, Central New Mexico Community College and Greenville Technical College in offering Facebook's curriculum. At least 15 more colleges are expected to be announced later this year, and Facebook is encouraging other two-year colleges to reach out to them for partnerships.

"Selecting community colleges to get this work done is an important message," said Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill, via email. "We are grateful to be part of Facebook's commitment to providing digital skills training to the digital economy in today's workplace."

Bunker Hill will be looking at using the Facebook curriculum to offer a certificate program, noncredit offerings, boot camps and competency-based learning.

"When people get the opportunity to get the training they need, they can get great jobs," said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who announced the company's plans during the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Boston. "It's up to us to help provide the training."

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