Your Daily Briefing, a Feature for Chronicle Individual Subscribers

October 17, 2017

Individual subscribers to The Chronicle now receive an email newsletter called the Daily Briefing. Through it, readers are presented with everything they need to know in higher ed to start their day. Below is an example of the Briefing, from Friday. To receive this newsletter, subscribe to The Chronicle.

Welcome to Tuesday, October 17. Today a lazy river at a public university raises eyebrows downstream, California's governor vetoes legislation that would have codified Obama-era sexual-assault policy as law, and readers tell us to ink or not to ink.

Looking up a lazy river.

There's a new river in Louisiana. The 536-foot-long lazy river at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, shaped in the letters "LSU," is part of an $85-million expansion of the campus's recreation center. To finance it, students approved a student-government resolution to increase their $135 fee over the next three years. Still, plenty of editorials have questioned the need for the flowing amenity, especially with the drop in state support for higher education. In this article our Jack Stripling explores how the flagship university landed the lazy river. (His reporting included a float downstream.) For more, go to The Chronicle's Facebook page on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., Eastern time, for a Q&A with Jack.

California and sexual-assault legislation.

Gov. Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, vetoed a bill on Monday that would have codified Obama-era federal guidance on campus sexual assault as state law, The Mercury News reports. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights recently rescinded its 2011 guidance on complying with the gender-equity law known as Title IX. Governor Brown said he was not ready to add more requirements at a time of changing federal guidance. In 2014, California enacted an affirmative-consent standard for colleges' sexual-assault policies. In vetoing the current bill, Mr. Brown called for further evaluations of the "yes means yes" policy's effect on campus sexual assault. Read his veto statement here.

Quick hits.

  • Gov. Rick Scott of Florida declared a state of emergency on Monday in connection with the white nationalist Richard B. Spencer's planned appearance this week at the University of Florida.
  • Pro-Trump protesters interrupted a question-and-answer session with California's Democratic attorney general at Whittier College.

Midwestern public universities and funding.

When research funding is eliminated or reduced, the effects are felt particularly strongly at public universities, especially in the Midwest, reports The Atlantic. Those institutions not only conduct important research but also provide jobs in the area and diversify regional economies. For more on the fate and future of public higher education, read our Jack Stripling and Karin Fischer's story, "An Era of Neglect."

The talkers.

  • Outrage often dominates conversations about problems in academe and politics. But when outrage predominates, there's too much shaming and not enough solving, argues Kelly Oliver in The New York Times.
  • Evidence-based solutions should be used to combat gun violence. To devise those solutions, Congress should lift the ban on gun-violence research supported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writes Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities.
  • In this Medium post, Martha S. Jones recounts the time she was sexually harassed in college. It shows, she writes, how easily men can take advantage of a women's vulnerability.

Tattoos and taboos.

Chris Quintana asked you on Monday whether having a visible tattoo would cause a stir in your academic department. Thankfully, no one wrote in to boast of sporting a "Mom" tattoo. But some of you told us about other forms of body art:

Michael J. Driscoll, a clinical assistant professor of finance and economics at Adelphi University, wrote that after completing a Fulbright scholarship at the National University of Ireland and ending a 31-year marriage, he wanted to commemorate his new beginning with a tattoo of a Celtic cross. Instead he bought a Claddagh ring, which he wears all the time — a more prominent reminder than a shoulder tattoo.

Jon Margerum-Leys, dean of the School of Education and Human Services at Oakland University, in Michigan, wrote that he is scheduled to get his first tattoo on October 31 (spooky). In the past, he thought deans shouldn't broadcast their tattoos, but not anymore. Today more people have tattoos, and it can be beneficial for administrators to have some personality, even if it's in ink.

Quote of the day.

"It was relatively easy to walk over to the library, and I felt it was easier to go and explain the solution … than trying to answer by email."

—Doug Schneider, an accounting professor at East Carolina University, on showing up at students' late-night study session to help them solve a problem

Comings and goings.

  • John Opperman, interim president of Texas Tech University, was named associate vice president for outreach and engagement.
  • Stephan Graham, a geology professor in Stanford University's School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, was named dean of the school.
  • Shankar Sastry, dean of the University of California at Berkeley's College of Engineering, will step down and return to the faculty at the end of the academic year.

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From The Chronicle's Mitch Gerber:

As further evidence that science knows no bounds, a forthcoming paper by biomedical researchers at Tel Aviv University warns, “Beware of the Toilet: The Risk for Deep-Tissue Injury During Toilet Sitting.”

In fact, it’s no laughing matter. “Prolonged sitting on toilet seats” — particularly in geriatric facilities, where residents need assistance — risks the development of soft-tissue pressure injuries, “the extent of which is affected by the seat design,” says the paper, which will appear in the Journal of Tissue Viability.

The work drew the attention of the Annals of Improbable Research, the science-humor publication and sponsor of the Ig Nobel Prizes, which noted that “this research is distinct from the 2000 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize, which reported injuries on people from toilets that could not withstand pressure from people on toilets."

Still, some of us might want to pull that magazine rack out of the bathroom.

—Fernanda and Adam

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz and Adam Harris are breaking-news reporters at The Chronicle. Reach them at and

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