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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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).
For the second time this month, students have organized a major event in California to draw attention to state budget cuts to higher education. Unlike the earlier protest, which involved rallies throughout the state, Monday's event focused on Sacramento, where community college students attracted thousands to demand more state support. Jack Scott, chancellor of the state's community college system, thanked the students for organizing to demand more funds, the Los Angeles Times reported.
New York University is planning a major expansion, with the goal of increasing its physical capacity by 40 percent over the next 20 years, The New York Times reported. The expansion would take place at NYU's main campus in Greenwich Village and elsewhere in the city. As is the norm in New York City, the plans are likely to face considerable scrutiny from neighborhood groups and preservationists, the Times reported.
The Association of American Publishers is reporting a slow start to 2010 for university presses. Across all kinds of publishers, book sales were down 0.7 percent in January, compared to the previous January. But for university presses, the declines were 8.6 percent for hardcover books, 9.4 percent for paperbacks. The higher education category (which includes textbooks) was up by 7.9 percent.
Everyone has a bracket these days. Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University professor who documents and campaigns against grade inflation, unveiled a bracket in which he selected athletic conference members that have made it tough to earn an A. Among the colleges that make his "Sweet 16" are Boston University, Hampden-Sydney College, Florida International University and Reed College.
The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences on Monday sued its former president, Karen Pletz, accusing her of submitting fraudulent expense forms, The Kansas City Star reported. A statement from the university says that as much as 70 percent of the expenses Pletz filed were false -- ranging from lunch at McDonald's to expensive dinners. Pletz has not responded, but news of her dismissal in December stunned Kansas City educators and business leaders, who at the time widely praised her.
The University of Memphis has failed to persuade a National Collegiate Athletic Association appeals panel that penalties imposed on the institution's men's basketball and women's golf programs were excessive. The NCAA said Monday that its Division I Infractions Appeals Committee had rejected Memphis's arguments that the Division I Committee on Infractions had erred last August in requiring the university to vacate its records and return championship revenue from its 2007-8 men's basketball season, when it lost in the national title game. The infractions committee panel had found that Memphis officials had failed to monitor the men's basketball program amid questions raised about the legitimacy of a standardized test taken by a former basketball star, identified in news reports as Derek Rose.
The negative reviews have started for a student play at Tarleton State University even though the critics haven't seen the production. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Christian groups are mad that the university has allowed students to put on Corpus Christi, a Terrence McNally work that depicts Jesus as gay and has him perform a gay marriage. Student actors have been pressured to quit, the newspaper said, but the university has defended the project, citing the values of academic freedom.
Stanford University is talking up a new model of engineering education, with less emphasis on traditional courses and more focus on solving big problems such as global warming, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. While Stanford reports that students are embracing the new approach, officials say that they run into difficulty with the engineering accrediting body, which prefers more traditional engineering courses.