Higher Education Quick Takes
Officials at the University of Nebraska at Omaha announced Sunday that the institution's athletics program would move to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I -- but shed its football and wrestling programs in the process. In a news conference Sunday about the move, which still requires the approval of the university's Board of Regents, campus officials said the decision was necessary to ensure the long-term financial viability of the sports program.
Police and University of Virginia officials are investigating the possibility of hazing by Zeta Psi after a pledge was hospitalized for drinking an entire bottle of soy sauce, The Washington Post reported. The student had a seizure and was hospitalized with an electrolyte imbalance. The Daily Progress, a Charlottesville newspaper, also reported that the pledges were made to eat a dish made of dog food, matzo balls, gefilte fish and soy sauce.
A faculty panel at the Widener University School of Law has recommended that the institution stop trying to fire Lawrence J. Connell, a law professor, over hypothetical examples he used in class involving the killing of the law dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Connell has maintained that the use of hypothetical examples -- even ones involving violence and known individuals -- is common and is part of the teaching process. He also has said that he is facing ouster because he is a conservative. He outlined his views on the controversy in an interview on the website of the National Association of Scholars.
Hoping to tap into Governor Scott Walker's interest in giving more independence to the state's flagship university in Madison, University of Wisconsin System leaders on Thursday released a proposal that would give similar autonomy to all of the public colleges and universities in the UW system. The "Wisconsin Idea Partnership," as the plan is called, would "build on" Walker's controversial plan to offer "new operational freedom to UW-Madison," while "extending the new flexibilities to all UW campuses as part of a unified system," the system's Board of Regents said.
A coalition of higher education groups on Thursday asked Congressional leaders to push for a one-year delay in two Education Department regulations that are scheduled to take effect in July. The groups, organized as usual by the American Council on Education, urged Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who heads the House of Representatives postsecondary education subcommittee, to either encourage or force the Education Department to delay the implementation date of rules that would establish a federal definition of "credit hour" and expand state authorization requirements (see related Views essay). The two rules are part of a larger package of regulations aimed at protecting the integrity of federal financial aid programs, and they "will have little or no effect in curbing fraud and abuse, but they could do enormous damage to the quality and diversity of postsecondary academic offerings," the groups wrote. Education Department officials have ignored previous requests from the higher education associations to change or rescind the rules, the groups said. And with time running out, neither state officials nor campus administrators have guidance about how to implement the new rules, making for an impossible situation, the associations suggest.
A strike by faculty members led Vancouver Island University to cancel all classes Thursday, The Vancouver Sun reported. Faculty members are pushing for more job security at a time that provincial funds for higher education are being cut.
The Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, facing yet another round of massive budget cuts, will hear a proposal Friday that would entail closing or merging four of the system's eight campuses, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Threatened in the plan are Nevada State College, the system's nine-year-old four-year college, the Desert Research Institute, Western Nevada College and Great Basin College, according to the newspaper. Governor Brian Sandoval's budget would require the university system to cut $162 million by 2013, almost 30 percent of its 2011 allocation.
Moises Salinas, a former professor and chief diversity officer at Central Connecticut State University, pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges of sexually assaulting one of his students, The Hartford Courant reported. The judge in the case gave Salinas a suspended one-year jail sentence and also ordered that he resign his job and not teach again. The position Salinas held at the university included investigating charges of sexual assault or harassment.
Saint Joseph's University announced Thursday that serious cardiovascular issues will prevent its new president from stepping into the job. Father Joseph O'Keefe was chosen as the Roman Catholic institution's president in January, but a routine pre-employment physical uncovered the medical issues, the statement said. Father O'Keefe was due to start May 18, but instead will take a year's leave from Boston College, where he was dean of education.