Friday, October 9, 2015

POSTED: Monday, October 5, 2015, 6:25 PM
Maureen S. Rush, University of Pennsylvania vice president for public safety, has led the campus police force for 20 years. (ANDREW THAYER / Staff)

Maureen S. Rush didn’t sleep much Sunday night and though 2 p.m. came and went without incident, she wasn’t ready to stand down.

The head of the police force at the University of Pennsylvania and vice president of public safety said the university will keep increased security through Monday, maybe longer.

“You can never depend that they’re going to give you the exact time,” Rush said, as she crossed the West Philadelphia university campus, on her way to a meeting of Penn’s crisis management team.

POSTED: Thursday, October 1, 2015, 3:47 PM

My colleague, Kristen Graham reported Thursday that the Philadelphia School District was planning a middle school based on the successful Science Leadership Academy model.
Its partner for the new school is Drexel University.
Drexel has been working with Samuel Powel, a K-4 school in its West Philadelphia neighborhood, for years and wanted to find a way to support a middle school that Powel students could attend, said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for university and community partnerships. When the university learned that the Science Leadership Academy, a high school, wanted to do a middle school, it seemed like a perfect fit for Drexel, which encompasses the Academy of Natural Sciences, she said.
The university is helping the school secure a temporary location for a fifth grade next fall and ultimately hopes to find partners to build a school on the University City High School site, which Drexel owns, she said. The hope, she said, is that the new site would house both a larger Powel and the new middle school.
“But there’s a long way to go before we know if we we’re able to do that,” Kerman said, and if a plan to build a new school were to go forward, it would take several years.
The university, she said, would not pay for construction of the new school, nor would the district. Drexel would make the land available. Many details, such as whether the district would pay rent to Drexel, still need to be worked out, she said.
“In the meantime, we’ll continue to support Powel and we are eager to bring the resources that we have …to support an inquiry-based middle school,” Kerman said.
The university and leadership academy hope to have the temporary site secured by the end of the month; it will not be on Drexel’s campus, she said.
Kerman said the university is looking forward to a year of planning with the new middle school principal, Tim Boyle, currently a teacher at Chester Arthur Elementary in South Philadelphia.
“He just came on board and he already has been meeting with our dean of education,” she said, noting that they will explore how faculty across the university may assist, as well as students.
Drexel will not provide the school with a per pupil operating subsidy, she said, as the University of Pennsylvania does to Penn Alexander. Penn helped the district create Penn Alexander and has provided up to $750,000 a year to the school since it opened in 2001.
Drexel, Kerman said, also supports McMichael School, which is in its neighborhood.
“From the university’s perspective, we know that quality public schools are essential to keep advancing the progress of Philadelphia today,” she said. “We have a lot of young people moving into the city. We know they won’t stay if there aren’t strong educational options.…It’s in the best interest of all universities to support public education.”

POSTED: Thursday, October 1, 2015, 1:00 PM
West Chester University President Greg R. Weisenstein at the Philips Memorial Building. (Charles Fox/ Staff Photographer)

Greg Weisenstein says he’s not “going to get out the rocking chair just yet,” but he is ready to complete his tenure as president of West Chester University.
After seven years at the helm, during which enrollment grew 20 percent, Weisenstein, 68, will retire from the university March 31 and “pursue some other opportunities,” perhaps in higher education, he said in an interview this week.
He announced his departure Thursday to faculty, staff and students  at the annual State of the University address on campus.
“It’s a good time for a presidential transition,” he said, noting the school’s growth and improvement in college rankings. “Sandra (his wife) and I have been thinking about this for some time. We wanted the time to be right for the university and for us.”
The announcement comes about three months after the state system’s Board of Governors voted to extend Weisenstein’s contract through June 2018. The university expects to launch a search for a replacement.
Under his watch, West Chester with 16,600 students has become the largest — and one of the most competitive — universities in the 14-school state system of higher education. It surpassed Indiana University of Pennsylvania in  student body size several years ago. The university’s incoming freshmen have had the highest average SAT score of any state system school, this year 1,106 in reading and math, Weisenstein said. This fall, more than 14,000 students applied for a freshman class of 2,395, the university said, and incoming freshmen had an average GPA of 3.6.
The school also has added doctoral degrees, began offering programs in Center City Philadelphia, increased full-time tenured faculty by 23 percent and reached two-thirds of its $50 million fundraising goal. The university has added new residence halls and athletic fields  and upgraded a dozen buildings. A business and public affairs center is scheduled to open this summer.
He’s also proud, he said, that West Chester has advanced in U.S. News & World Report rankings and that Consumer Digest magazine in June ranked it 21st in top values of public universities, the best spot of any Pennsylvania school.
“In the time he’s been on board, he’s kind of let the secret out about West Chester University, of its greatness,” said Thomas Fillippo, a meat processing plant owner from Malvern, who chairs the Council of Trustees. “He’s done just an incredible job.”
But Weisenstein also has had to contend with controversy, including a lawsuit filed by its former chief budgeting officer, alleging the school falsely reported deficits to get more state funding.
“I’m very confident that we’re going to prevail in that litigation,” he said.
Because the university accumulated savings, it had to borrow less and that means  savings in financing costs of $50 million over the next 25 years, he estimated.
West Chester also took some heat in 2014 when officials said they were interested in exploring the possibility of withdrawing from the cash-strapped state system. That’s no longer a consideration, he said, noting the system’s willingness to grant universities more autonomy.
“I don’t see us any time in the future under anybody else’s leadership considering moving out of the state system,” he said.
And, the school had been under pressure - like many universities - to improve its  response to sexual assault and harassment. This fall, it rolled out Green Dot Etc., a violence prevention program that encourages bystanders to intervene. The university, Weisenstein said, also has beefed up security.
The university under his watch has added partnerships and increased global ties, the university said. West Chester has cooperative agreements with more than a dozen foreign universities and partnerships with more than 100 corporations.
He recently returned from a trip to Cuba where he led a national contingent of state university presidents looking to foster student and faculty exchange programs, research collaboration and other partnerships. Weisenstein, who has his bachelor's  in U.S. history and geology and advanced degrees in educational fields, has had experience on an international front.
Weisenstein hopes the effort will bring more Cubans to West Chester and allow West Chester students to study there.
“We were able to sign an agreement with the minister of education in Cuba that will help continue to open doors between our universities,” he said.
As for Weisenstein, after he leaves West Chester, he plans to spend time with his wife’s parents in Hawaii and his three children and 10 grandchildren.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 4:34 PM
Temple Provost Provost Hai-Lung Dai sent an email to the university community, noting that adjuncts have received a minimum salary increase of more than eight percent and contracts of longer than one semester. (File photo)

The 1,300 adjuncts at Temple University came one step closer to becoming part of the faculty union this week.

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board approved a request to allow an election, and if a simple majority of adjuncts who vote say yes, the adjuncts will become part of the Temple Association of University Professionals.

If approved, the move would nearly double the size of the faculty union, which currently has about 1,400 members.

POSTED: Monday, September 28, 2015, 2:39 PM

A coalition of more than 80 public and private colleges plan to roll out new online tools to ease the admissions process for students from low incomes families and other groups that traditionally are underrepresented on campus, the schools announced Monday.

The goal of the national Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, the group said, is to broaden access to higher education for students who have struggled with financial aid and other elements of the application process and encourage more students to consider college.

The effort, they say, should help level the playing field for students from all backgrounds.

POSTED: Monday, September 28, 2015, 12:22 PM

A cyberattack crippled Rutgers University’s networks Monday morning, prompting criticism from students and questions about the security and strength of the university’s infrastructure.

Students began reporting connection problems Monday morning. Shortly before 11 a.m., Rutgers-Newark tweeted that a network outage was bringing down Internet and WiFi connections.

An hour later, the university’s Office of Information Technology said that the network was “experiencing technical difficulties.”

POSTED: Friday, September 25, 2015, 2:43 PM

Faculty, alumni and students at the Community College of Philadelphia are putting their talents to use for the good of the college’s neediest students.
Their artwork will be sold at a fundraiser on Oct. 2, with the majority of proceeds to support the college’s 50th Anniversary Scholars Program. The college in April launched the scholars program, which allows seniors who graduated from a city high school last June, who have low-enough family incomes to qualify for federal Pell grants and who meet certain other requirements to get their associate’s degree at no cost for tuition and fees.
About 200 students are currently enrolled in the anniversary scholars program.
“We can find many examples throughout history where artists, through their ability to see things - not for what they are but for what they want them to be - have made a difference in the world,” Donald “Guy” Generals, president, said in a statement. “Not only are Philadelphia artists sharing their artwork with us, they also are demonstrating how strongly they believe in the promise of Philadelphia's high school graduates.”
Called “An Evening of Art & Soul,” the black tie optional gala will feature about 135 paintings, sculptures, ceramics and photographs. The exhibition and sale is being curated by faculty members Jeff Reed, Karen Aumann and Jake Beckman and will include donated work from nearly 80 artists, ranging in price from $10 to $12,000.
Among those whose work will be featured is Diane Burko, a landscape artist and photographer and former art department faculty member. Alumni donating art work include: Photographer Rita Gaudet deVecchis, owner of deVecchis Gallery on South Street; painter Paula Molnar; graphic artist Manny Hernandez and mixed media artist Danny Narvaez.
The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Pavilion Building on 17th Street, south of Spring Garden Street. Tickets are $125 for individuals or 10 tickets for $1,000. Students can get tickets at a discount, $50.
For more information, see

POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2015, 2:39 PM
Pope Francis speaks to bishops during the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

More than 10,000 volunteers from every state in the nation are assisting in Philadelphia this week during the World Meeting of Families, culminating in Pope Francis’ visit on Saturday and Sunday.

But one group that really stands out is the contingent from St. Joseph’s University.

The Jesuit institution has provided 435 volunteers including students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents - the largest volunteer group of any university, said Suzanne Kinkel, director of volunteers for the World Meeting of Families.

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CampusInq provides higher education news about colleges and universities throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. Look here for breaking news stories, features and newsy nuggets that might or might not appear in the print version of the Inquirer.

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