Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 9, 2020

Teenagers were charged with robbery, weapons possession and assault for an attack on Yehoshua Rosenstein, the rabbi who leads Yale University’s Chabad House, on March 31. The attack took place outside the house in downtown New Haven, Conn., the New Haven Independent reported.

Two 16-year-olds were the main assailants who jumped Rosenstein, threatening him with a firearm and punching, kicking and knocking him to the ground, the Independent reported. They then stole the keys to Rosenstein’s car and drove off in it.

Police chased the car and arrested the two teens, and three more who were in the car, after it was disabled in a collision, the Independent reported. Rosenstein told the Independent that during the attack one of the teens said, “Give us everything you have, you fucking Jew.” The two main assailants face hate crime and assault charges in addition to the weapons and first-degree robbery offenses charges against all five teens.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge this for what it is -- a hate crime,” Yale student Sam Feldman, the Chabad president, told the Yale Daily News. “It’s horrifying to think that this happened anywhere, much less a block from campus on a street which is usually populated almost exclusively by students.”

April 9, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Cornell College Week, Craig Teague, professor of chemistry, examines how soda could help slow climate change. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 8, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Cornell College Week, Rhawn Denniston, professor of geology, discusses how Earth’s history is written in the rock. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 7, 2020

MacMurray College will not provide severance packages for faculty and administrative staff when the college closes in May, the Journal Courier reports.

Health coverage for faculty and administrators will also end May 25, the last day of employment for most college employees. They will receive their last paycheck May 29.

The MacMurray faculty handbook has a severance policy, but according to a legal review, the section is only applicable to the elimination of academic programs while the college is still operational.

The small liberal arts college recently announced it would close after leadership was unable to chart a financially viable path forward for the college.

April 7, 2020

A district court judge ruled Monday that a Pennsylvania restaurant must pay a former college student $40,000 for racial discrimination. The decision closes a lawsuit in which the student claimed an employee called him the N-word and did not process his food order, according to court documents.

Ricky Lee Bugg Jr., a black student who attended Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., at the time of the incident in January 2017, said he put in an order at Just Wing It, a local restaurant chain, and was called a racial slur by Christopher Behney, who was working at the restaurant. Bugg said he was told by Nikki Meyer, the owner of the Annville restaurant, that he had to pay for his food before receiving it, which the restaurant does not ask of its white customers.

According to the complaint, Behney told Bugg as he and his friends were leaving the restaurant to, “get out, n-----s, Trump’s president now, I can say what I want.” In a press conference after the incident, Meyer said the restaurant was not racist and that Behney “merely repeated the slur” to Bugg after he had said it, Pennlive.com reported. However, Just Wing It failed to appear in court and did not file a reply to Bugg’s lawsuit, Jennifer Wilson, judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, wrote in court records.

The incident sparked a demonstration for racial healing on the Lebanon Valley campus a month later, Pennlive.com reported. The court agreed that the incident "affected Bugg greatly, and that he should receive damages for emotional distress and humiliation," Wilson wrote in a memorandum. "Bugg’s perspective -- based on his life experience up to that point -- that he was an equal, valued, and respected member of the community was cruelly destroyed in an instant, because of the unprovoked racist insults that Behney hurled at him."

April 7, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Cornell College Week, Barbara Christie-Pope, professor of biology, explores why there may be several avenues to a cure for Parkinson's disease. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 6, 2020

Hope International University of Fullerton, Calif., plans to close Nebraska Christian College at the end of the spring semester, just a few years after acquiring the Nebraska institution in 2016 through a merger.

The move is a result of the same financial pressures bearing down on small, private, Christian institutions nationwide, according to a statement from the chair of Hope International’s Board of Trustees, Toby Yurek. The Nebraska location was operating at losses deemed unsustainable.

Nebraska Christian College added intercollegiate athletics and online offerings, and enrollment grew 27 percent to 140 students after the 2016 merger. But enrollment since plunged to 85 this spring, a 30-year low.

“It is imperative that our students and their families understand this is a branch campus closure,” Hope International’s president, Paul Alexander, said in a statement. “Students enrolled at NCC are already HIU students, by virtue of the merger, and will continue to be enrolled at HIU. We fully understand that this news, initially, is shocking, unsettling, and disappointing for our students, but we want them to know that we will do everything in our power to assist them through this.”

Students will have the option of transferring to Hope International’s campus in California or finishing their degrees online. The Nebraska location enrolls 85 students, half of them enrolled in online programs.

April 6, 2020

Record low oil prices could significantly hurt the finances of public higher education institutions in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

University Lands, a company that overseas oil leases on state-owned lands, sent $1 billion to its Permanent University Fund last year, which supports the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems.

This year, the company projects a loss of at least $300 million in revenue after oil prices dropped to around $20 a barrel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a price war driven by companies in Russia and Saudi Arabia.

April 6, 2020

Two single-sex institutions in Minnesota are moving toward having only one president.

The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University expect to announce a search for a new joint president later in the year, the St. Cloud Times reported, citing a Thursday memo. The idea still needs legal, governance and accreditor sign-off.

Each institution would maintain a separate identity under the plan. They currently share academic programming.

"A single leader would provide a more integrated structure that effectively implements new and exciting opportunities for our students while retaining our unique identities as separate schools for women and men," board chairs at the two institutions wrote in the memo.

Mary Dana Hinton, president of the College of St. Benedict, is leaving at the end of June to take the same position at Hollins University in Virginia. St. John’s has an interim president, Eugene McAllister.

April 6, 2020

Erik Simonson, a Minnesota state senator, has caught flak for introducing a bill that would secure $1 million in state infrastructure bonds for Lake Superior College a few weeks before he started a new job there, The Star Tribune has reported. Simonson is now the executive director of continuing education and customized training at Lake Superior.

Though government ethics experts said the situation represents a conflict of interest, Simonson disputes the assertion, saying that the Duluth college is in his district and he applied for many jobs once he realized his current one was ending. The thought that funding the college might be a conflict of interest "didn't cross [his] mind." He applied for the role in late November.

Lake Superior College officials have said that Simonson's bonding proposal did not influence the decision to hire him. A spokesperson for the college said that Simonson and Lake Superior College president Patricia Rogers agreed in conversation that should Simonson be chosen for the role, he would recuse himself as author of the pending bond bill.

Simonson was originally meant to start the position in May, but the date was moved up as the senator's work as CEO of the Lake Superior Zoo was ending.

Most Minnesota legislators hold jobs outside of lawmaking. They meet at the Capitol for four months out of the year and make $46,500. Simonson is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

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