All posts by Andrew Mytelka


U. of Hawaii Board Votes to Disinvest in Fossil-Fuel Companies

The University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents voted on Thursday to divest the system’s financial holdings in any companies involved in the production of fossil fuels, Pacific Business News reports.

The university, which plans to carry out the divestment by 2018, joins other higher-education institutions in choosing to rid itself of some or all of their investments in the fossil-fuel industry. They include the New School, Pitzer College, Stanford University, Syracuse University, the University of D…


2 Wesleyan U. Students Are Charged With Drug Deals That Led to Overdoses

[Updated (5/22/2015, 5:41 p.m.) with news of the students' court pleas and clarification that Wesleyan expelled five students, not two.]

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted two Wesleyan University students for what it said were their roles in selling illicit drugs on the Connecticut campus in recent years that led to a series of drug overdoses by students, The Hartford Courant reports.

The two students — Zachary Kramer, 21, of Bethesda, Md., and Eric Lonergan, 22, of Rio de Janeiro — wer…


President Resigns at Northwest Nazarene U. After No-Confidence Vote

The president of Northwest Nazarene University, David Alexander, announced his resignation this week, the Idaho Statesman reported on Tuesday.

The resignation, effective May 31, follows a faculty vote last month of no confidence in Mr. Alexander that stemmed from a controversial plan to lay off six employees. One of those to be laid off was a popular professor of theology, and critics of the plan said his removal derived not from budgetary reasons but from theological differences at the Christian institution, a view the university denied. Still, the plan was shelved, and Mr. Alexander apologized to the professor.

In a statement and news release on Tuesday, the chairman of the university’s board hailed Mr. Alexander’s leadership over the last seven years. Northwest Nazarene’s vice president for advancement, Joel Pearsall, was named interim president.

Pearsall said, “At the request of the Board of Trustees, I have decided to serve in the position of president of Northwest Nazarene University. I am committed to the task ahead of helping NNU navigate through this transition and move forward into the future that I believe God has prepared for us.”

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Student Dies After Terrorist Attack on Nigerian College

A student injured on Saturday by Boko Haram terrorists in an attack on a Nigerian college died of his wounds on Monday, the Associated Press reports. Musa Umar Gamari, a student at the College of Business and Administrative Studies, in the northeastern town of Potiskum, died of gunshot wounds to the chest. The attack was the latest in the Islamist terrorist group’s campaign against educational institutions, which has prompted widespread concerns about security.

It was the first school attack reported since a 3-month-old multinational offensive drove the Islamic extremists out of towns seized last year. Nigeria’s military says the insurgents’ main fighting force is hemmed into the Sambisa Forest, where they are being pursued.

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In Setback for National Effort, Adjuncts Vote Down Union at Webster U.

Adjunct faculty members at Webster University have voted narrowly against forming a union, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The result is a setback for the Service Employees International Union, which is attempting to organize adjuncts in a series of metropolitan areas across the country in order to enhance their bargaining power with the colleges that employ them.

In January the SEIU persuaded adjuncts to unionize at Washington University in St. Louis, just a few miles north of Webster’s ma…


U. of Mary Washington Is Accused of Failing to Respond to Yik Yak Threats

A feminist group at the University of Mary Washington is complaining to the U.S. Education Department that the Virginia institution did not properly respond to threats against the group’s members that were posted on Yik Yak, the anonymous social-media app that has been controversial on many campuses, The Washington Post reports.

One member of the group, Feminists United, was killed recently, and one of her roommates has been charged with the crime, but a lawyer for the group, Lisa Banks, acknowledged that there was no evidence of a connection between the Yik Yak threats and the student’s slaying.

Still, she said the slain student, Grace R. Mann, had been among the group’s members who were cyberstalked and who received death and sexual-assault threats in a flood of more than 700 messages over their activism on the campus. Ms. Banks said university officials had failed to stop the threats.

The university said it had responded to every threat on Yik Yak and had offered “extra security as needed” to students. A spokeswoman also told the Post, “There are First Amendment concerns when you are a state institution.”

“I felt deeply unsafe at many points,” said Paige McKinsey, the outgoing president of the university’s Feminists United group. “I made sure to walk with people. I made sure my apartment door was locked and told people where I was going.”

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Lawmakers Compromise on Plan to Dismiss South Carolina State’s Board

South Carolina lawmakers finally agreed Wednesday on legislation that would oust the entire Board of Trustees of beleaguered South Carolina State University, reports The State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

The historically black university has been suffering from heavy debt and other financial woes for years, and its accreditor put it on probation last year. Those were presumably among the problems that led the board to fire the university’s president in March, although it did not specify a cause.

A legislative panel proposed shutting down the college in February, but lawmakers later decided instead to fire all of its trustees. It took weeks of negotiations, however, to settle the question of who would appoint a temporary successor board, which would serve until 2018. The newspaper reports that the compromise legislation calls for th new board to be named by the state’s governor, treasurer, superintendent of education, two members of the State Senate, and two members of the House.

Legislative leaders said they hoped the bill could be presented to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature as early as Thursday.

“We are one step closer to righting the ship,” said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Orangeburg Democrat who was on the conference committee for the S.C. State bill. “This is not a silver bullet.”

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Ariz. Judge Backs Community College’s Tuition Break for Immigrant Students

An Arizona judge ruled on Tuesday that students brought to the United States illegally by their parents were eligible to pay cheaper in-state tuition in the Maricopa County Community College District, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling, in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by the state’s attorney general at the time, represents a victory for the students, known as Dreamers, and the community college, which contended that President Obama’s deferred-action program on such immigrants enabled them to d…


Penn Foster College Will Pay $70,000 to Settle Complaint Over Deceptive Ads

Penn Foster College, a for-profit institution with affiliated career and high schools in the United States and abroad, agreed last week to pay some $70,000 to settle an Oregon man’s complaint that it had misled him about whether his credits were transferrable, The Oregonian reports.

Under the settlement, announced by the Oregon Justice Department, Penn Foster will refund $1,900 in tuition to Malcolm Strand, will pay the department $22,000 for the cost of its investigation of the matter, and will donate as much as $50,000 to nonprofit or government organizations that help facilitate education for disadvantaged young people in the state.

Mr. Strand filed a complaint after he attempted to transfer his Penn Foster credits to Portland Community College but was told the credits could not be accepted because Penn Foster was not regionally accredited — even though it claimed it was.

The agreement also requires Penn Foster to make restitution to anyone else who reports an experience like Mr. Strand’s and to be honest in its advertising about its accreditation and credit transferrability.

“The agreement does not represent any admission of wrongdoing,” Warn said. “It did not find intent to deceive, or manifestly false statements, on the part of Penn Foster.”
Warn acknowledged that the settlement amounted to an expensive lesson. “We’ve been at this for 125 years,” she said of the school. “We’ve not been through many, or any, reviews like this.”

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N.C. Lawmakers Drop Proposal to Increase Professors’ Teaching Duties

A bill that would have forced public-university professors in North Carolina to teach at least eight courses a year was pulled from the legislative docket on Tuesday, The News & Observer reported. The legislation, Senate Bill 593, had drawn sharp criticism from faculty members in the University of North Carolina system, who said the teaching requirement would hamper their research and make it difficult to recruit professors and students. The Senate Education Committee referred the bill for further study, the newspaper reported.

Sen. Tom McInnis, a Rockingham Republican who sponsored the bill, spoke in favor of it Tuesday. He said students don’t want to assume loans to be taught by graduate student teaching assistants. “While research, of course, is very important,” he said, “the student is the most important customer that we have at UNC in our system.”

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