New Papers on Performance-Based Funding

The Lumina Foundation last week released a new series of white papers on how public colleges are responding to performance-based funding policies in their states. The five papers by outside experts follow two previous batches the foundation funded and produced. The latest round focuses on how colleges can structure their academic programs and finances to support student success.

Lumina said the papers "focus on how institutions can align internal finances, student supports and incentives, and educational delivery to respond to funding formulas that create incentives for on-time degree completion and year-over-year increases in the numbers of students of color and at-risk students who earn degrees or other credentials."

85 organizations defend Education Department's Title IX enforcement efforts

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More than 80 groups come to the Department of Education's defense over criticism of how it interprets and enforces Title IX.

U Texas Approves Optional Gun Ban for Faculty Offices

Professors and staff at the University of Texas at Austin may ban guns from their private offices if they choose to do so when the state’s campus carry law takes effect next month, the Board of Regents for the university system voted Wednesday. The vote followed months of argument from professors that the new law puts them at risk, including during office hours. At the same meeting, the regents voted down a controversial proposal backed by Austin President Gregory Fenves that would have banned handguns with a loaded chamber, The Texas Tribune reported. The votes were part of campus-based discussions about how exactly to comply with the new law, which permits guns on campus, including in classrooms.

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Berkeley Chancellor Faces Investigation

The chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, is under investigation following allegations he misused public funds and used a campus fitness trainer without paying, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks was named in a whistle-blower complaint saying that he did not pay to use the campus Recreational Sports Facility and its professional services, the Times reported, citing an April 11 letter from the University of California's chief operating officer that it obtained. Dirks also allegedly used public funds to pay for travel with a recreational sports employee on non-university-related business. The travel allegations involve a January trip to India taken by the chancellor's wife -- a Berkeley associate history professor -- and a fitness trainer. A source told the newspaper the Berkeley Alumni Association paid for the trip.

The former director of the sports facility approved the free personal training after Dirks approached a trainer in 2013. That former director, Mike Weinberger, who has since retired, said he suggested free sessions as a way to improve the recreational sports department's standing against the more well-known athletic department. He compared the free training to free football game tickets that are handed out to boosters.

Weinberger also said he was not aware of a policy issue. The April 11 letter said the allegations amounted to "improper governmental activities," the Times reported.

A trainer involved in both the alleged fitness sessions and the India trip, Devin Wicks, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. A spokesman said Dirks would not comment until the investigation's conclusion.

The investigation comes after Dirks has faced criticism on a number of fronts. He has been under fire for his handling of sexual abuse complains and taken flak from faculty members who claim he did not consult them in planning to reorganize departments and close a $150 million budget deficit. Controversy has also surrounded Dirks for spending $700,000 to build a security fence around his residence, aiming to keep out student protestors.

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Correction: Type, Not Size, of Institution Related to Rate of Forcible Rape

An Inside Higher Ed article published on Tuesday -- about a study that found the risk of forcible rape was higher at large, public institutions -- was incorrect. The author of the study later found a "typo in [his] coding" that led to the erroneous finding. While the author stands by the finding that undergraduate women at public universities are at greater risk of becoming victims of rape than those at private colleges, he said the size of a university had no significant effect on the risk of sexual victimization.

Inside Higher Ed regrets the error.

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Ousted Temple U Provost Defends Himself

When Temple University President Neil D. Theobald ousted Provost Hai-Lung Dai last month, Dai did not directly respond to reports that he was responsible for a deficit of $22 million in the financial aid program. Leaks, however, suggested that this was the reason he lost his job as provost.

But this week, the board said it held Theobald responsible and said it was moving to fire him. Then Wednesday, Dai released a statement about the deficit: "I would like to address the allegations concerning the $22 million deficit. This involves a program that has greatly enhanced Temple’s reputation and has benefited many students. It has also resulted in a net gain to Temple in student enrollment and tuition. I was not informed of any deficit until March of this year. As the Board of Trustees said yesterday, the responsibility for managing budgetary matters rests with the president. I was never, at any time prior to March of 2016, asked by President Theobald to manage this issue. Once this issue was brought to my attention in March of this year and prior to my unjust dismissal, I actively began to take steps to address the overexpenditure."

Dai released a second statement disputing a statement Theobald reportedly circulated Monday saying that he fired Dai in part because of an allegation of sexual harassment against him. A Temple spokesman said that the board considered that charge to be baseless but felt obliged to investigate. In his statement Thursday, Dai said Theobald appeared to be referring to a retaliation complaint filed against him after Dai disciplined the person for "performance failures." Dai said that this mischaracterization of the complaint was unfair to him and his reputation.

"It has taken me a lifetime to build a name that I and my family can be proud of," Dai said. "My good reputation for integrity, honesty and professional excellence has been built day by day, challenge by challenge over the course of 62 years. It is my most precious possession. In the last several weeks I have stood silent and watched my personal and professional reputation be shattered by lies, half-truths and malicious innuendo because I trusted that truth would emerge from slander. But after yesterday’s events, I can no longer remain silent."

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Case Western to Stop Most Activities During GOP Convention

Case Western Reserve University will not hold classes, summer camps or other activities on its campus, which is located in Cleveland, during next week's Republican National Convention, reported The university made the decision to shut down most of its activities after hearing concerns from students and faculty members about its decision to house 1,700 police officers and 200 members of the Ohio National Guard during the convention. Some students had asked Case Western to require that the officers store their weapons off campus and to provide alternative housing for students who were uncomfortable with the police presence, according to the news outlet. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to clarify that some university activities will continue.)

In an email to campus, Barbara Snyder, Case Western's president, said the university made the decision to host the police officers at the request of the city and that city police had helped the campus police department when needed.

Snyder wrote that "in answering the city's convention request, we failed to give adequate consideration to the impact the decision would have on members of our community -- in particular students staying in residence halls near the buildings housing the officers."

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A presidential spouse sees himself as a utility player on his wife's team (essay)

Sometimes it's best for a presidential spouse to avoid the role of a home-run-crushing slugger and to focus instead on relatively inconspicuous but worthwhile endeavors, writes Mort Maimon.

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Documents: Paterno Ignored Complaints on Sandusky

Former Pennsylvania State University head football coach Joe Paterno was aware as early as 1976 that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had molested children, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday. Paterno, who died in 2012, had previously said he was not aware of the abuse until 2001.

According to the documents, a man identified as John Doe 150 testified in 2014 that when he was 14 he was molested by Sandusky, and that he reported the abuse to Paterno. "I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff," Paterno allegedly told the boy. "I have a football season to worry about." The documents include several allegations that other Penn State officials ignored claims of abuse against Sandusky for decades, as well.

In 2012, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. The NCAA, stepping outside its usual enforcement process, imposed a series of historic sanctions against the university, though it has since reversed many of them. The university has so far settled with 32 of the victims for $93 million.

"Penn State’s overriding concern has been, and remains, for the victims of Jerry Sandusky," Eric Barron, Penn State's president, said in a statement. "While individuals hold different opinions, and may draw different inferences from the testimony about former Penn State employees, speculation by Penn State is not useful. Although settlements have been reached, it also is important to reiterate that the alleged knowledge of former Penn State employees is not proven, and should not be treated as such. Some individuals deny the claims, and others are unable to defend themselves. Speculation also serves to drive a wedge within the Penn State community."

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Competency-Based Education for Underprepared Students

The key to designing a competency-based education program for underprepared adult students is the need to balance remedial instruction with college work, within a system of effective student support services, says a new paper from Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit group. Competency-based education has great potential for students who have remedial needs, the paper said, because of the course delivery method's focus on flexibility, customization and learning for mastery.


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