Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 4, 2009

Eastern Oregon University will end up as the home of a play banned at a local high school -- but administrators at the university administrators aren't boasting about their involvement. The La Grande Observer reported that the La Grande school district banned the play -- Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile -- for "adult content." (That makes the play sound pornographic, but Library Journal described the play this way: "The present work is his first full-length play and has enjoyed commercial success in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It depicts an imaginary meeting of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in 1904 Paris, exploring the impact of art and science on our rapidly changing society. A surprise visit by Elvis adds some satiric commentary from a late-20th-century perspective.") Last week, Eastern Oregon officials declined to let the high school's production of the play be produced at the university, saying that the decision of the local school district should be respected. But a professor and the university's College Democrats have stepped in and requested space to let the high school play be performed. And university officials said that they had no choice under Eastern Oregon rules but to grant the request.

March 4, 2009

Some students are challenging the truthfulness of Elsa Murano, president of Texas A&M University, over questions of when she made a job offer, The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported. Murano told student leaders last year that she wouldn't offer anyone the job of vice president for student affairs without consulting them first. But students, using open records laws to obtain the documents, found a job offer had been extended before Murano made that pledge. The dispute concerns just what constitutes a job offer, given that the Board of Regents would have to formally approve any appointment.

March 4, 2009

Morris Brown College, a historically black institution fighting for its financial life, lost a classroom building to a foreclosure action on Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Frederick D. Jordan Hall was sold for $900,000. College leaders vowed to continue their push to revive the college, which is down to about 200 students.

March 3, 2009

Chris Hardy finished all of his courses at Brigham Young University, but he has been denied a degree and recently lost his appeal of that decision, all due to a calendar he created. The Associated Press reported that Hardy was found to have violated the university's honor code because he created "Men on a Mission," a beefcake calendar featuring men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That action was not consistent with the honor code's requirements that Hardy live "a chaste and virtuous life," according to the letter denying Hardy's appeal.

March 3, 2009

The University of Portland, in Oregon, has changed its policies so that the institution grants amnesty on drinking-related matters to students who come forward to report that they have been sexually assaulted, the Willamette Week reported. Many colleges have such exemptions so that students who may have been drinking prior to an incident -- in violation of campus rules and drinking-age laws -- won't feel discouraged from reporting a rape or assault. But until recently, Portland didn't have such an exemption. The change followed a reported assault. The newspaper noted that because the university didn't publicize the new exemption, some students held a protest against the old policy, holding signs accusing the university of being "Screwed UP."

March 3, 2009

New signs of the economic difficulties facing all kinds of colleges: Administrators and staff members at John Carroll University are being required to take two weeks of unpaid leave, while faculty members are being asked to vote on a proposal to cut their salaries, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. ... The University of Washington is cutting 70 jobs from its fund raising operations, citing a drop of 25 percent in the value of the university's endowment, the Associated Press reported.

March 2, 2009

When Bill Ayers visits a local campus these days, it's become common for a local politician or two to denounce the appearance. But Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing particularly hard at Millersville University, demanding that a lecture later this month be called off. The Intelligencer Journal reported that Republican legislators have issued repeated statements and called for meetings with state higher education officials about the matter. Millersville has defended the appearance by Ayers, noting that he is coming to the campus in his role as a noted education expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and that there are no plans to use tax dollars for the visit. But Republicans keep talking about the Weather Underground, of which Ayers was once a leader, and suggesting that there could be economic penalties for the university if it lets Ayers appear. One legislator told the newspaper: "I mean, this guy probably committed treason, and why Millersville would want to give him a forum is really beyond my understanding." Another said: "At the end of the day, the institution does utilize tax dollars. ... So there has to be a measure of accountability."

March 2, 2009

Benedictine University has a new way to help its alumni pay for their children's college tuitions. When alumni have two children who enroll at the Illinois university within a six-year period, the second child receives a 50 percent discount on tuition. A third child doesn't have to pay any tuition at all. Benedictine is not the first institution to offer a sibling scholarship. George Washington University gives a discount to one sibling when another is enrolled at the same time.

March 2, 2009

Adjunct professors, who teach almost one-third of courses at Weber State University, can expect a 7 percent cut in their pay next year, The Ogden Standard reported. University officials announced the plan, and said that adjunct pay would be rolled back to its 2004-5 rates, or about $2,700 per course. Adjuncts at the Utah university do not receive benefits. The state is considering large cuts to higher education budgets, and Weber State officials cited those reductions as requiring the pay cuts. Tenure-track and tenured faculty members will not have their pay cut under the plan, although the reduction would apply to the extra pay those professors receive when they teach extra courses.

March 2, 2009

Alumni of Western Washington University, angry over the university's decision to eliminate football, issued a statement Monday saying that the university has refused offers of gifts of $1 million to restore football -- and that, as a result, many alumni plan to stop giving to the institution. The university responded by stating that many alumni understand the decision. "Western cannot accept donations for the football program since that program no longer exists," the university said. "We cannot ethically commit to maintaining a program based on the hope that additional significant funding might be found in the future. The amount of money required to not only sustain the program today, but also in the years to come, is not a realistic possibility given the tough economic times we're currently facing."

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