In the wake of a revealing investigation into major academic improprieties committed by the men’s basketball program at the State University of New York at Binghamton, the system’s chancellor took steps to prevent such abuses at other SUNY institutions on Tuesday. Nancy L. Zimpher said at a Board of Trustees meeting that the system will appoint an “athletic oversight officer” who will report only to her and the board. Zimpher also said she will “regularly convene campus presidents, athletic directors and [faculty athletics representatives] to discuss cross system interests, guidelines and benchmarks.” She added that the system “will use the principles and guidelines developed from those meetings to hold presidents accountable for campus activities.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Federation of Teachers released a report Tuesday on steps colleges should take to diversify their faculties. The report reviews data on the lack of racial and ethnic diversity on most faculties, and discusses ways to recruit more diverse pools and to retain minority professors.
President Obama has nominated Carl Wieman, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Wieman, who teaches at the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a leading proponent of reforming science education.
Harvard University's secretive seven-member governing board is reviewing its functioning, Bloomberg reported. While few details about the review are known, it is being welcomed by critics of a system that is seen as lacking in accountability or transparency. The Harvard Corporation, created in 1650, is the oldest incorporated body in the United States.
Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg and Tariq Ramadan of the University of Oxford University are about to once again travel to the United States to participate in academic meetings. Both scholars were denied visas during the Bush administration, but those restrictions were ordered lifted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January. Habib will arrive this week and participate in several university visits, including a discussion of ideological exclusion on March 31 at Harvard Law School. Ramadan, who will arrive in April, will participate in several events, including a panel discussion in New York City on April 8 entitled “Secularism, Islam & Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West,” co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, PEN American Center and Slate.
Organizers of a talk by Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa said that a "threatening" crowd of 2,000 student protesters forced her to call off a talk Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported. Those who organized the protest said she engaged in hate speech and questioned why she was invited to the university. The conservatives who brought her to campus said that the protest was squelching free speech. On Monday, Coulter spoke at the University of Western Ontario, and she told a Muslim student that rather than traveling via a flying carpet, he should "take a camel."
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a borrower whose student loans were discharged in bankruptcy without his having proven that the payments were an "undue hardship" on him, as bankruptcy law typically requires. In its unanimous, narrow ruling in the unusual case, United Student Aid Funds v. Espinosa, the court found that a bankruptcy judge was wrong to have released Francisco Espinosa from his debt without ensuring that he met the undue hardship requirement -- but that the guarantee agency seeking to collect the loans was given a chance to object, and did not in due time.
A National Collegiate Athletic Association appeals committee upheld a sweeping records vacation penalty against the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Tuesday. The university was found last summer to have committed major rules violations in 16 sports, including football. More than 200 athletes abused a university textbook distribution program, getting free books for non-athletes and non-academic swag for themselves from the student bookstore. Alabama officials unsuccessfully argued that the penalty being levied against them was too harsh. The NCAA decision comes a day after a records vacation penalty was upheld for violations committed by the men’s basketball program at the University of Memphis.
A commission formed with the sweeping charge of transforming the University of California to face harsh budget realities laid out a series of areas for consideration Tuesday, suggesting the university should contemplate a tiered fee structure across its various campuses and the creation of three-year degrees. The draft documents released Tuesday by the UC Commission on the Future do not contain concrete recommendations, but rather potential areas worthy of exploration. The commission has five working groups, which will examine the size of the university; its curriculum; issues of access and affordability; and strategies for funding and research.
The Common Application continues to grow -- on Monday announcing an additional 25 members, bringing the total number of colleges to 414. While the program was originally most popular among private liberal arts colleges, the new members reflect a broadening of membership. With the addition of the University of Connecticut and the University of Michigan, the program now has flagships from 10 states. And the addition of Columbia University means that the entire Ivy League is signed up. Jacobs University Bremen has become the group's first international member. The Universal College Application, a competitor to the Common Application, has 85 members (including some that participate in both programs).