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‘Super-spreader’ event led to N.J. college’s COVID-19 outbreak, president says

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About 125 COVID-19 cases at Monmouth University have been traced to an off-campus “super-spreader event” that shut down in-person classes and canceled athletics, according to campus officials.

Monmouth had reported a total of 39 confirmed cases as of Sept. 25. Since then, the number has ballooned to 291 cases, including 166 people who tested positive and are still in isolation, president Patrick Leahy wrote Friday in a letter to students.

In addition to the confirmed cases, 206 students at the private college were identified through contract tracing as being at high risk for contracting the virus. They are required to quarantine as a precaution, Leahy wrote.

About 125 of the cases were traced to a gathering about two weeks ago at a private residence, said Tara Peters, the university’s associate vice president for communications. Not all of those people attended the gathering, but they eventually came into contact with someone who did, she said.

Monmouth’s struggle to contain the virus’ spread underscores the logistical challenges that colleges face in relying on students to follow safety protocols when they’re not on campus.

“Moving forward, we will need 100% cooperation from our campus community in order to resume our fall semester as planned,” Leahy wrote.

Monmouth opened the semester with the majority of its courses online, but allowed indoor dining on campus, where students also had access to the gymnasium and pool. It temporarily shut down those facilities at the end of September and announced it would postpone sporting events through at least Wednesday. All courses were shifted online through Oct. 14.

The university also began offering free virus testing for all students and staff with no appointments needed.

Leahy hopes to make a decision soon on whether to reopen facilities and resume athletics and club activities, he wrote.

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An Illinois university got major pushback for cutting religion, French and anthropology. But other colleges are dropping the humanities too

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CHICAGO — Scott Sheridan didn’t expect his 23 years of teaching at Illinois Wesleyan University to end like this.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, Scott Sheridan, in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.


© Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, Scott Sheridan, in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Though fewer students are pursuing degrees in his areas of study these days, many still participate. This semester, more than 50 students at the campus in Bloomington are taking advanced classes in French cinema and Italian cultural history. The spots filled up so quickly that more were added, Sheridan said.

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But programs in French and Italian won’t continue beyond this school year. And neither will those in religion, anthropology, American cultural studies and three other academic departments slated to close in the 2021-22 school year. School officials say they plan to offer introductory courses in some of the affected topics, but new students won’t be able to major or minor in them.

The cuts are the result of a controversial curriculum review that began last year, pitting administrators trying to revamp offerings for career-oriented students and balance the budget against defenders of the humanities, including professors and alumni, who worry IWU will lose its identity as a bastion for liberal arts. Current students working toward degrees in affected programs will be able to complete them.

“People sometimes disregard or dismiss terms like humanities and liberal arts. They don’t understand what that does to their careers,” Sheridan said, explaining that skills such as critical thinking and communication are marketable. “We have an educational model in the United States that sometimes privileges the professional degree tracks.”

After Sheridan, a tenured professor, received notice that his position will be terminated in August 2021 and other instructors raised concerns about the decision-making process, a national association for university professors intervened and

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Colleges are cutting sports programs and upending lives

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A freshman track and field athlete cried on the bed in his dorm room. He felt angry and screamed. A baseball coach tried to explain the situation to his two young children before focusing his efforts on finding his players a home. Months later, he scrolls through Instagram and struggles with mixed emotions as he sees his players in their new uniforms.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has financially strained athletic departments. Schools didn’t receive their usual distribution from the NCAA after the men’s basketball tournament was canceled. They have lost revenue from student fees and donations. Most conferences are playing a shortened football season, with limited or no fan attendance, hurting yet another revenue stream. Many smaller schools are no longer receiving the payouts from nonconference matchups against Power Five programs. Schools have responded to these deficits by eliminating teams.

Around 80 Division I programs no longer exist, affecting roughly 1,500 athletes. Success and prominence don’t guarantee immunity. Furman baseball had a 125-year history. East Carolina men’s swimming won a conference title in February. Power Five schools — Iowa, Stanford and Minnesota — have discontinued programs.

“As an Olympic sport at a Division I college, you always have this understanding in the back of your head that if something is going to be cut, it’s potentially going to be your sport,” said Dan Shuman, a former East Carolina swimmer. “It’s living in the shadow of the guillotine.”

If that day comes, as it recently has for hundreds of athletes, they are forced to transfer to a new school or give up their sport to stay on campus. Coaches lose their jobs and must move their families for the next one. This process repeats around the country, each time beginning with an emotional team meeting that leaves athletes scrambling to adjust.

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An Illinois university got major pushback for cutting religion, French and anthropology. But other colleges are dropping the humanities too.

Posted on

Scott Sheridan didn’t expect his 23 years of teaching at Illinois Wesleyan University to end like this.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.


© Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.

Though fewer students are pursuing degrees in his areas of study these days, many still participate. This semester, more than 50 students at the campus in Bloomington are taking advanced classes in French cinema and Italian cultural history. The spots filled up so quickly that more were added, Sheridan said.

But programs in French and Italian won’t continue beyond this school year. And neither will those in religion, anthropology, American cultural studies and three other academic departments slated to close in the 2021-22 school year. School officials say they plan to offer introductory courses in some of the affected topics, but new students won’t be able to major or minor in them.

The cuts are the result of a controversial curriculum review that began last year, pitting administrators trying to revamp offerings for career-oriented students and balance the budget against defenders of the humanities, including professors and alumni, who worry IWU will lose its identity as a bastion for liberal arts. Current students working toward degrees in affected programs will be able to complete them.



a man standing next to a tree: Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.


© Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Scott Sheridan, a tenured professor of French and Italian at Illinois Wesleyan University, is losing his job as the school eliminates many offerings in the humanities.

“People sometimes disregard or dismiss terms like humanities and liberal arts. They don’t understand what that does to their careers,” Sheridan said, explaining that skills such as critical thinking and communication are marketable. “We have an educational model in the United

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Oregon Department of Corrections weighs cutting ties with community colleges, moving education in-house

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The Oregon Department of Corrections is weighing ending its connections to community colleges across the state and proposing to move its education program in-house because of a budget shortfall.

The DOC currently contracts with six community colleges in Oregon to provide high school diploma equivalency services to inmates across its 14 facilities.

Department of Corrections communications manager Jennifer Black told Oregon Public Broadcasting that DOC is proposing the contracts be phased out and the agency hire back those positions as part of the DOC permanent budget going forward.

She said nearly 1,000 inmates were enrolled in the Adult Basic Skill Development program as of Sept. 30.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors were unable to enter the institutions and ABS (Adult Basic Skills) programming could not be adapted and continued during operation modifications,” she said. “Converting contractor funding to DOC staff positions will allow the department to continue ABS programming during other disasters or operational restrictions.”

DOC director Colette Peters sent a letter about the situation this week to Cam Preus, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association.

ODOC was already experiencing a projected budget shortfall of $110 million before the pandemic, Peters wrote, which has resulted in $25 million in layoffs and other cost-cutting measures.

Peters said that DOC staff met with Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario to discuss the idea of the six colleges working together to create a proposal standardizing services.

“Treasure Valley was clear that such a proposal would not be forthcoming,” Peters wrote. “It was stated unequivocally during those meetings that the colleges are independent institutions and that the dynamics between colleges would not result in a unified proposal.”

DOC has now presented the community college association with requirements in order to continue the relationship. Those requirements include standardizing education programming hours across institutions,

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