George Floyd’s Death in Police Custody Sparks Outrage Among Universities, Academics

Two days after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in police custody on Monday, the University of Minnesota minimized its ties with the Minneapolis Police Department as other universities and scholars expressed grief and outrage at the incident.

In a video that has been widely viewed, Derek Chauvin, a White Minneapolis Police Department officer, is seen pinning Floyd down on a street with a knee on his neck. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd is heard saying in the video. He died later in the hospital. Four Minneapolis police officers were fired after the incident was widely publicized,  reported The Washington Post.  Thousands of people in Minneapolis have taken to the streets to protest Floyd’s death. As of Thursday afternoon, no charges have been filed in Floyd’s death, reported CNN.

“Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death,” wrote University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel in a letter. “As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken. I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand.”

Joan Gabel

Gabel said the university will now no longer use the services of the police department for concerts, football games, concerts and other large events. Nor will it use the department for specialized services needed during such events, such as K-9 explosive-detection units. The only collaboration with the police department will be for joint patrols and investigations that have a bearing on the safety of the campus community.

Gabel said in her letter that the university community demands “accountability and justice” following the police action.

“We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them,” Gabel wrote in her le

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Amid the Pandemic, Some Universities Plan to Continue Tuition Hikes

The price of college has been rising for decades, with the average in-state public four-year university’s tuition and fees nearly tripling in the last 30 years, according to a report from the College Board.

Now universities face difficult decisions about whether to continue the trend or freeze tuition amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A growing number of colleges and universities – like William & Mary College, Pomona College and Central Michigan University – are suspending price increases for the upcoming school year, but some institutions are planning tuition hikes despite pushback from students.

The University of Southern California (USC) is moving forward with a 3.5% tuition increase, approved before the coronavirus crisis.

“The reality is that the costs of running a university continue to rise each year, and tuition only covers a portion of the cost of a student education,” read a statement from the university earlier this month to Annenberg Media, a student publication at USC. “We anticipate an even greater need for financial assistance in the coming year, and we remain firm in our commitment to meet the financial needs of our students and their families.”

In an online State of the University address in April, USC president Dr. Carol Folt said the university expects an operational deficit between $300 million and $500 million through June 2021 because of coronavirus-related expenses.

Still, students and parents expressed frustration on Twitter.

One student wrote that the hike would be a “massive ripoff” if the fall semester remains online.

USC “not only refused to refund us tuition, but also increase it for this year,” another posted, referring to a class-action lawsuit filed against USC for not refunding tuition and fees for the past semester of remote instruction. “[I] have to laugh,” he added.

Facing a drop in enrollment, the Minnesota State system is still considering a 3% tuition increase included in a higher education funding bill passed in 2019. While chancellor Dr. Devinder Malhotra said last month he would think about a tuition freeze, leaders proposed budget solutions with the tuition hike included, according to Pioneer Press. Trustees are scheduled to vote on the matter in

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What Higher Ed Can Learn From Public Health, in the Midst of Covid-19?

Since mid-March, COVID-19 has brought the traditional operations of higher education institutions in the U.S to a grinding halt, forcing students, faculty and staff to move all meetings and classroom engagement to a virtual format.

This decision focuses on the public health of the campus community as administrators have always led with a healthy and safe environment in mind. These shifts have caused many leadership teams to act quickly to keep the academic year rolling remotely after spring break while simultaneously getting students off campus and taking precautions to keep everyone safe.  Currently, higher education leaders are focused on the fiscal health of the institution amid this global pandemic, however public health should remain a priority.  During this time, public health leaders and institutional decision makers should collaborate to identify innovative solutions that serve the campus and surrounding community, amid social distancing and beyond. Public health experts serve as translators that can explain complex jargon, promote preventive measures, debunk myths, and clarify confusing information in a culturally appropriate and catchy way.

Denise A. Smith

The decisions that colleges make during this time, not only impact their campus, but also their surrounding community. Institutions of higher education are more than just historical buildings that serve students; they are pillars in the communities. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), for example, are nestled in Black communities across the country and provide jobs, services, and resources to those community.  Historically, the Black community has been cautious of seeking medical and preventive health services, due to the heinous and unethical Tuskegee Experiment and the maltreatment Henrietta Lacks endured while her immortal cells to date, are leading to groundbreaking discoveries in medicine meanwhile, her family has reaped no financial benefits. Due to decades of distrust, innovative strategies are vital at this time. This pandemic is highlighting the racial and health disparities in this country and while we are hearing from entertainers, politicians and medical professionals, the response from Black public health officials has been modest.Read more:

Stanford Sees $267 Million ‘Negative Financial Impact’ From COVID-19 in March-August

Stanford University is forecasting a $267 million “negative financial impact” from COVID-19 for the March-August period, its president Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote in a letter to the community.

In the next fiscal year, he said “we expect our financial challenges to be as great or even greater,” as many income streams continue to diminish.

“Housing revenue will be reduced due to fewer students living on campus; income-producing events and programs will continue to be limited; and clinical, research and philanthropic income streams will be challenged,” wrote Tessier-Lavigne. “At the same time, expenses in some areas, such as student financial aid, will increase. The market volatility affecting our endowment also can be expected to continue, given the seismic disruptions occurring in the national and global economies.”

The Stanford president further said university units have been asked to prepare fiscal 2021 budget plans based on a scenario with a 15% reduction in funding from endowment payout and a 10% reduction in support from general funds.

Tessier-Lavigne said there will be program and workforce reductions.

“Our expectation is that some of these reductions will be temporary layoffs (furloughs) until we are able to resume services and bring employees back, and that other reductions will be permanent layoffs,” he wrote.

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National Governors Association Makes Recommendations on Reopening Campuses

The National Governors Association said various states’ governors should set out a clear public health framework that can be implemented alongside college and university reopening efforts.

In a letter to governors, the association said states should have an inclusive approach when planning to reopen. They should acknowledge the diverse higher education sectors, different institutional planning needs and the nature of student behavior when considering opening college campuses. Governors should also make sure there is alignment with the public health metrics of the communities where colleges and universities are located.

The association recommended that governors could look to Connecticut’s framework to develop state-specific strategies. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont created the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group last month. On May 6, the advisory group’s higher education committee released the nation’s first statewide framework for reopening institutions of higher education, the governors association said.

“Reopening higher education institutions will be a critically important and high-profile step for governors who are working to get their state economies back on track,” the let said. “This process will involve complex legal questions for which governors should provide clear guidance.”

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