On the latest edition of "This Week,"Inside Higher Ed's news podcast, Shapri D. LoMaglio of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities and Campus Pride's Shane Windmeyer joined Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik and the moderator Casey Green to discuss efforts by religious institutions to seek exemptions from key federal civil rights laws; also, the constitutional scholar Rodney A. Smolla analyzed a federal appeals court's ruling last week upholding the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admissions.
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The National Collegiate Athletic Association has dropped a controversial name-and-likeness release from the "student-athlete statement" signed each year by Division I college athletes, USA Today reported.
The release is a central part of the high-profile class action filed by Ed O'Bannon, a former University of California at Los Angeles basketball player, as well as other lawsuits filed against the NCAA regarding the commercialized use of likenesses of college athletes. In 2009, the same year that O'Bannon filed his class action, Ryan Hart, a former starting quarterback at Rutgers University, filed a similar complaint. In May of that year, Sam Keller, a former starting quarterback at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, also filed a class action about the NCAA profiting off athletes' likenesses in a series of video games.
The same day that O'Bannon's lawsuit finally went to trial, the NCAA settled its case with Keller, thus avoiding a trial that was set for March. As part of the settlement, the NCAA agreed to make $20 million available to Division I football and men's basketball players at certain colleges whose teams were in the Electronic Arts video games. A week earlier, EA Sports agreed to pay $40 million in a separate settlement with O'Bannon. O'Bannon and the NCAA are still waiting on a federal judge's ruling in the class action.
The board of directors that governs Division I member universities of the National Collegiate Athletic Association will soon vote on a new governance model, increasing the size of its board from 18 members to 24 and giving greater voting control to the five major athletic conferences. The new board would consist of five presidents from those major conferences: the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 12, and Southeastern Conferences. It would also include five presidents from the remaining five Football Bowl Subdivision Conferences, five from the Football Championship Subdivision, and five from Division I institutions that don't have football teams. A student athlete, a faculty athletics representative, a campus senior woman athletics representative, and the chair of the Council -- the governing body in charge of the day-to-day legislative functions -- would round out the rest of the board.
The weighted voting totals of the Council gives 37.5 percent of the vote to the five major conferences, as well as a combined 37.5 percent to FCS and no-football conferences. FBS conferences would have 18.8 percent. Faculty representatives and student athletes would have 3.1 percent each.
“We will begin to focus on student-athlete welfare in ways they will feel as early as next year,” Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University and steering committee member, said in a statement.
At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that Division I colleges were attempting to remake the decision-making process to give more control to the 65 largest revenue institutions, Emmert said, as they’re most likely to move forward on reforms that would benefit college athletes. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said he didn’t believe that the colleges that make the most money from athletes would be the ones most eager to change. “I am just very skeptical that the NCAA can ever live up to the lofty mission it constantly touts,” Rockefeller said at the hearing's start.
The Division I Board of Directors will vote on the model on August 7.
A survey of campus police departments at 343 colleges and universities has found that, when campus police find students violating alcohol laws, they typically refer them to various college offices, but do not issue citations. Further, the students are generally not referred to a campus health center for alcohol screening or intervention. The survey results will appear in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
As more states recognize gay marriage, universities consider whether to keep policies created to help same-sex partners who couldn't marry. And in states that still don't recognize gay marriage, some public colleges are starting to offer new benefits.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin System had valid reasons to obtain an injunction against a former student who repeatedly disrupted meetings and events, the Associated Press reported. The disruptions went beyond protest, and thus were legitimate to ban, the ruling said. The former student argues that he was engaged in protest over the way the university system campuses use student fees. The court, however, also found that the injunction -- barring the former student from all campuses and interacting with all university employees -- was too broad, and so ordered a lower court to narrow it.
The American Council on Education on Wednesday released two reports from its Presidential Innovation Lab. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded lab asks more than a dozen chief executives to think about how technological, pedagogical, organizational and structural innovations can close the student achievement gap.
The first paper, called "Unbundling Versus Designing Faculty Roles," traces the evolving role of the faculty, from mainly tutors in the 18 and 19th centuries, to the increasingly professionalized faculty of the early and mid-20th century, to contemporary professors, for whom teaching, research, service and others duties increasingly are “unbundled” or disaggregated. The paper argues that this unbundling is particularly acute in large introductory courses, where instructors mainly teach rather than design courses, and in massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs. At the same time, the paper says, unbundling is occurring in myriad ways, and “there is no single model.”
A common concern related to such unbundling, the paper says, is the potential for the decline of the “complete scholar,” whose research, teaching and service combine to positively impact students. But, the paper notes, community college teachers understandably may focus more on teaching than research. The paper also says that technology can help integrate teaching and research by making teaching more inquiry-driven, and by making teaching a kind of research process through student data analytics. The paper concludes that unbundling of professor duties is not necessarily bad for students, but that it requires further study. Colleges and universities may do well to study unbundling within their institutions and more intentionally assign faculty roles based on their evolving duties, as some institutions have done. But those conversations also should happen at the national level, the paper says.
The second paper, called "Beyond the Inflection Point: Reimagining Business Models for Higher Education," raises a broad range of questions about possible changes to higher education’s various business models. For example, the 10-page primer mentions the role of online education in potentially depressing tuition prices across the academy. It also looks at how competency-based education and prior-learning assessment could increase the acceptance of alternative credentialing in higher education. The context for these changes includes more scrutiny of costs in higher education and of the use of cross-subsidization among programs. While the paper doesn't provide firm answers to these challenges, it makes several suggestions, including a call for more collaboration between colleges and for institutions to consider outsourcing the teaching of introductory courses.
More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition's authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency's Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to "open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track." The investigation should be conducted at the "sector" level, they say, rather than individually.
The petition says that average yearly income for adjunct professors "hovers in the same range as minimum-wage fast food and retail workers," since adjuncts typically are paid only for the time they spend teaching -- not the time they spend preparing or meeting individually with students. Ann Kottner, an adjunct professor of English at three New York City-area colleges, says in a photo posted with the petition that she works 66 hours per week but is compensated for only 26 hours, for example. Kottner and her co-authors say faculty unions have helped alleviate the problem in some cases, but that more needs to be done to protect the rights of adjuncts who can't or won't form unions. Many adjuncts lack basic job security and fear getting "blacklisted" for speaking out or organizing, they say.
The Labor Department did not return a call for comment on the petition.