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An unnamed art-history professor was fired by Hamline University, in Minnesota, after showing in an October class a medieval painting of the Prophet Muhammad. Some Muslims regard such portrayals as forbidden, and the university declined to renew the faculty member’s contract after the Muslim Student Association complained. Criticism of Hamline has come from scholars of Islamic art and history as well as advocates of free speech and academic freedom. (New Lines Magazine, The Chronicle, Reason, PEN America)

A six-week strike across the University of California system, said to be the largest higher-ed walkout in American history, ended as graduate students, teaching and research assistants, postdocs, and other academic workers voted to return to their jobs. The strike created havoc as the semester’s end approached across the 10-campus system. Unions representing the workers said the strike-ending deal would help them face the state’s high cost of living. (University statement, The Chronicle)

Purdue University’s Board of Trustees formally reprimanded the chancellor of its Northwest campus, Thomas L. Keon, for using gibberish in commencement remarks that were widely seen as mocking Asian people. The reprimand came a day after Northwest faculty members overwhelmingly voted no confidence in Keon, who has apologized for the incident. (WBAA, The Chronicle)

A vast dormitory planned at the University of California at Santa Barbara — dubbed “Dormzilla” by its critics — may pose safety and health risks, and should be redesigned with more windows, better ventilation, and bigger bedrooms, an independent review found. Charlie Munger, the 98-year-old billionaire and amateur architect who pledged $200 million toward the project if the university would use his design, responded to the review with a pungent equivalent for “nonsense.” (Los Angeles Times, The Real Deal, The Chronicle)

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said it would soon remove Confederate symbols from its campus, including a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee — a onetime superintendent of the academy — wearing a Confederate uniform. Under an order from the Pentagon, the academy will also move, rename, or put in storage statues, monuments, buildings, and other displays of honor to Confederates. (The New York Times)

New York’s Juilliard School, a top music conservatory, put a professor on leave and started an outside investigation amid accusations that the faculty member had sexually harassed students during his many years as chair of the composition department. An article in VAN, a magazine about classical music, drew attention to the accusations. (The Washington Post)

The regional accreditor for North Idaho College placed it on “show cause” status, which means it must demonstrate compliance with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities’ standards. Without accreditation, NIC students would be ineligible for federal aid and would have trouble transferring credits — a situation that often leads a college to close. At the center of the college’s troubles is a leadership riven by ideological disputes. (Accreditor letter, Coeur d’Alene Press, The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed)

A former administrator at New York University was put on leave by Yale University after Manhattan prosecutors accused her of committing a six-year, $3.5-million fraud in which state funds were used for home renovations, including a swimming pool. The state money was supposed to be used by an NYU program to help students needing special education or learning English. (New York Post, New Haven Register)

In a lawsuit against the University of Southern California and 2U, its online-program manager, a group of former students said they had been misled into enrolling in the institution’s online education programs by U.S. News & World Report rankings that had been inflated by false data. The university’s education school withdrew from the rankings in 2022, but the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, contends the school provided inaccurate data for more than a decade. (Higher Ed Dive, The Chronicle)

A professor at the University of Idaho sued a TikTok performer in Texas who has claimed the faculty member was involved in the unsolved murders of four students in November at an off-campus house. The local police department said the professor is not considered a suspect in the case. (Northwest Public Broadcasting, The Chronicle)

A $500 increase in the maximum Pell Grant was the most prominent higher-ed provision in the vast spending bill for the 2023 fiscal year that President Biden signed into law on December 23. The 7.2-percent rise is the largest in a decade. The $1.7-trillion legislation was also larded with more than $15 billion in earmarks, including $50 million for faculty recruitment at the University of Alabama. Before earmarks were banned, a decade ago, colleges received as much as $2.25 billion a year in academic pork. (Politico, The New York Times, The Chronicle)

The president of the three-campus Erie Community College, part of the State University of New York, resigned after only 11 months in office. David K. Balkin, who had overseen layoffs and eliminated several programs in the wake of enrollment declines, was suspended with pay in October after an alleged argument with an employee over a cost-cutting plan to move a campus library. (The Buffalo News)

Holy Names University, a 154-year-old California institution with fewer than 1,000 students, announced it would close after the spring semester. The university said it had been hobbled by the pandemic and financial woes, and was unable to find a merger partner. Students will be able to complete their programs at nearby Dominican University of California. (University statement)

A Princeton University student whose body was found on campus in October took her own life, according to the results of an autopsy. Misrach Ewunetie, 20, was an Ethiopian immigrant from Ohio who was studying on a full scholarship. (NBC News)

Afghanistan’s Taliban government barred women from attending university. With secondary schools closed to girls last March, female education in the country is now limited to elementary schools. (CNN)

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