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From: Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez

Subject: Your Daily Briefing

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Welcome to Thursday, July 16. Today, student activists articulate their demands, the University of Akron has laid off a quarter of its faculty, and one art instructor gets creative with online learning.

Today’s Briefing was written by Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, with contributions from Megan Zahneis and Julia Piper. Write us:

What do college activists want?

Renaming a building is no longer enough. As the pandemic and rage over police violence intersect, college students are demanding broader change.

This time, student activists don’t want more panel discussions or committees. They want Confederate symbols gone, police departments defunded, and diversified coursework taught by instructors of color, among other things. Our Marc Parry and Katie Mangan spoke with four student activists. Each student elaborated on a single demand. Read the story here.

Quick hits.

  • All student-organization buildings and facilities will be closed to students this fall at Princeton University. The policy covers theaters, practice rooms, and publications offices. (The Daily Princetonian)
  • At American University, a fraternity chapter’s entire membership and a sorority’s board disaffiliated from their organizations after students wrote on social media that Greek life contributed to sexual assault and racism on campus. (The Eagle)
  • The former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated a former U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in a runoff election to determine the Republican nominee for an Alabama seat in the U.S. Senate. (Montgomery Advertiser)
  • A new task force at Pennsylvania State University will review the institution’s student code of conduct as part of a promise “to address both the immediate issues and longstanding problems of racism, bias, and intolerance.” (Penn State News)
  • An Axios survey found that 79 percent of students said they would not attend parties in the fall. (College Reaction)
  • The editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association released a statement expressing support for Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and asserting that “undermining of science — and unprecedented attacks on scientists and public-health officials — risks lives in every corner of our country.” (JAMA Network)
  • The University of Florida’s athletics director, Scott Stricklin, said he tested positive for Covid-19 last month. (The Gainesville Sun)
  • Fifteen students at Miami University, in Ohio, resigned from a new diversity, equity, and inclusion task force, citing a lack of organization and insensitive remarks made during meetings. (The Miami Student)
  • A petition asking Columbia University to change its rules for leaves of absence by students has drawn more than 1,700 signatures. (The Action Network)
  • Arturo Reyes, president of Rio Hondo College, cut his work schedule by 25 days, a move that doubled his time off and increased his daily pay rate, without board approval, according to a report by the Southern California News Group. (Pasadena Star News)

One university has lost one-quarter of its unionized faculty since the pandemic.

The University of Akron’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday to cut 178 positions, including 96 unionized faculty positions and 82 staff and contract workers. But those aren’t the first cuts or departures for the university in recent months.

Akron has eliminated about 23 percent of its unionized full-time faculty since the pandemic started. The reductions, administrators said, had saved the university $16.4 million — 5 percent of its budget for the 2020 fiscal year — but the layoffs have cost people their livelihoods. Gary L. Miller, Akron’s president, said the jobs had to be eliminated because of the pandemic, budget cuts, declining enrollment, and the university’s need to protect its finances. Wednesday’s cuts show just how hard the higher-education sector is being hit by the coronavirus-sparked recession. Our Danielle McLean reports.

A literary critic prepares for the real plague.

Hunter Gardner has spent her entire academic career studying plague literature from a comfortable distance. But when Covid-19 hit, turning our world upside down, that distance disappeared. “No longer was there ‘real plague versus literary plague,’” Gardner writes in The Chronicle Review; “there was just plague.” It would seem that all of Gardner’s training had prepared her for this situation, that this was her “moment” to present her work to the public and offer insight that could help us understand and navigate our current, devastating reality. And yet, throughout these past months, she has found it a challenge to know what to say: “Even now, I struggle to find the right words, and I’m left questioning the nature of my work as a literary critic, as well as the comfortable boundaries I’ve always relied upon to carry it out.” Read Gardner’s essay.

Stat of the day.

$40 million

That’s how much of the University of Pennsylvania’s $91-million budget deficit went to one-time costs for coronavirus-safety measures like personal protective equipment, support for social-distancing changes, and an increase in student financial aid.

Comings and goings.

  • Anne F. Harris, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Grinnell College, in Iowa, has been named its president. She will succeed Raynard S. Kington, who left Grinnell to become head of school at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Mass.
  • Jeffrey A. Baughn, a former vice president in the financial-services sector at IBM, has been named senior vice president for finance and technology at Lipscomb University, in Tennessee.
  • Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, in Montreal, will become dean of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, on October 15.


Art students and their instructors may have the toughest time during a pandemic. There are so many tools that can be found only in an art studio, like the perfect giant easel, a particularly steady table, and a potter’s wheel.

Luckily, art instructors are some of the best equipped people to handle the challenge. Andrew Snyder, an associate professor of art at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, is building each of his students a loaner potter’s wheel to take home for online courses. “While online learning may seem like a drag, I assure you that you will all be potters by the end of the semester,” Snyder wrote in a Facebook post. “I promise.”

Correction: A Quick Hit in Wednesday’s Briefing misidentified the university where the physician Robert E. Anderson is alleged to have sexually abused students. It was the University of Michigan, not Michigan State University. We regret the error.

Fernanda is newsletter product manager at The Chronicle. She is the voice behind Chronicle newsletters like the Weekly Briefing, Five Weeks to a Better Semester, and more. She also writes about what Chronicle readers are thinking. Send her an email at