University News

This week in higher ed: March 13, 2013

University News Editor
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Harvard administration draws fire for searching deans’ emails

Several Harvard officials have confirmed that university administrators secretly accessed 16 resident deans’ email accounts last fall to find evidence of a leak to the media about an undergraduate cheating scandal that occurred last year, the Boston Globe reported Sunday.

The deans whose emails were secretly viewed serve on the Administrative Board, which led the inquiry into the cheating case. All but one dean were not notified of administrators accessing their emails until Saturday, months after the searches occurred.

The episode has raised concerns among faculty members, whose digital records are protected by a university policy granting them privacy. Harvard spokesperson Jeff Neal said “any assertion that Harvard routinely monitors emails — for any reason — is patently false,” the Globe reported.


NYU faculty to hold vote of no confidence on president

Faculty members of New York University’s School of Arts and Sciences are holding a five-day vote of no confidence on President John Sexton this week, multiple news sources reported.

The vote comes amid sharp polarization around Sexton’s proposed “NYU 20131” plan to physically expand the school’s Manhattan campus, which detractors say will drive up tuition costs and prove financially unsustainable. Sexton has also come under fire from some faculty members for what they said was insufficient communication regarding university policy changes and  a failure to solicit input on administrative decisions.

The vote of no confidence raises questions about the broader role of university presidents in an era when many of them have increasingly focused on fundraising efforts, the New York Times reported.


Liberty University now ranks as country’s largest private, nonprofit university

With 74,000 students, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. has become the largest nonprofit, private university in the United States, the Washington Post reported March 4.

The Baptist university, founded by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell in 1971, has used online courses to quadruple its student body in the past six years, with 62,000 students — 84 percent of its student body — working toward online degrees.

Liberty University’s endowment, now over $1 billion, puts the school in the same financial league as Georgetown University, the Post reported.


Survey highlights students’ lack of knowledge about study abroad

Only 24 percent of U.S. college students and 22 percent of their British peers said they had enough information to make a decision about whether to pursue studying abroad, according to a survey conducted by the British Council, the United Kingdom’s educational agency, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported March 6.

The survey, conducted last fall, showed that a lack of information about study abroad options outranked difficulty speaking a foreign language as a reason dissuading students from studying abroad.  Of American respondents, 79 percent indicated comfort speaking a foreign language.

While 56 percent of U.S. respondents said they were considering study abroad options, 40 percent also said they had too little information on financial aid programs for international study, The Chronicle reported.

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