Study: College Football Upsets Affect Judges' Sentencing

Judges whose college football teams lose in an upset fashion frequently let their emotions over the loss affect sentencing decisions, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

To reach their conclusion, Naci Mocan and Ozkan Eren, both economics professors at Louisiana State University, examined every defendant case file from 1996 to 2012 for juveniles in the state of Louisiana. Each file contained information about the defendant, his or her offense, and sentence length. Most of the files also listed where the judges in the cases went to college and law school. The researchers then compared this information to LSU football game records.

Mocan and Eren found that in the week following LSU's football team losing a game it was expected to win, judges with bachelor's degrees from LSU doled out harsher sentences, especially to black juveniles. In some cases, a surprise LSU loss resulted in a sentence that was as much as 74 days longer than cases following an LSU win or cases decided by judges who graduated from other institutions. In total, the researchers said, juveniles spent an extra 1,332 days in custody or on probation because a judge may have been in "emotional shock" over an upset.

"These results provide evidence for the impact of emotions in one domain on a behavior in a completely unrelated domain among a uniformly highly educated group of individuals (judges), with decisions involving high stakes (sentence lengths)," Mocan and Eren wrote. "They also point to the existence of a subtle and previously unnoticed capricious application of sentencing."

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New presidents or provosts: Cardiff Fresno Maine Newcastle SCSU Texas Chiro Texas Tech Thomas Wingate

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  • Cara Carmichael Aitchison, vice chancellor of the University of St. Mark & St. John, in Britain, has been selected as vice chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University, also in Britain.

New Federal Report on Remedial Education

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics released a new data analysis this week on U.S. college students who took remedial courses and on who completed them.

The report followed first-time students for the six years from 2003-9. Among community college students, 68 percent took remedial courses, and almost half took two or more. The data showed that 40 percent of incoming students at public, four-year institutions took remedial courses, with 21 percent taking at least two.

About half (49 percent) of community college students completed all their remedial course work, according to the report, compared to 59 percent of students at public, four-year institutions. And 16 percent of remedial course takers at community colleges failed to complete any of their remedial courses, as did 15 percent of students at public, four-year colleges.

State Senator Among Finalists for U of West Florida Presidency

A state senator with connections to several trustees is among four finalists to become president of the University of West Florida.

A presidential search committee on Tuesday narrowed its field of candidates to a list including current university provost Martha Saunders, Senior Vice President of the College Board of New York Frank Ashley and University of Akron Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development Mike Sherman, the Pensacola News Journal reported. It also included a fourth name among its list of finalists: Republican State Senator Don Gaetz.

Gaetz's candidacy had been debated before he even put his name in the running for the presidency at the last minute in August. The News Journal reported his political campaign -- or that of his son, who is a state representative in Florida running for a congressional seat -- received financial backing from at least seven of 20 presidential search committee members and six of 13 university trustees. Gaetz was also the only one of 19 candidates to be considered who has never worked for a higher educational institution.

Gaetz's background in education includes time as a school district superintendent and school board member. He also co-authored Florida legislation awarding funding to universities meeting certain metrics. He is reportedly barred by state law from lobbying in Florida for a university for two years after he leaves the Legislature.

When he applied for the president position, Gaetz, said he was only interested in the University of West Florida.

"Northwest Florida is my home, and northwest Florida is not just where my home is, but it’s where my heart is," he said, according to the News Journal. "I'm not looking to be at a college institution in Minnesota or Daytona or anywhere else."

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Oberlin President Leaving in June

Marvin Krislov (right) will end his time as president of Oberlin College and Conservatory next summer, he said Tuesday, setting the stage for his departure after a decade including major fund-raising success but recently marked by several controversies on campus.

Krislov's last day as president at the Ohio institution is set to be June 30, 2017, he said in a letter posted online. The date means the president, 56, will have held his position for 10 years when he steps down. It also comes shortly after the institution completed a new strategic plan.

During his tenure, Krislov is credited with raising $317 million for a comprehensive campaign, eclipsing a goal of $250 million. He is also noted for defending liberal arts education's value and pursuing several construction and renovation projects.

"But after 10 years, I know this is the right moment for me to seek new professional challenges," Krislov wrote.

Krislov and Oberlin have in the last year been under the microscope for their handling of situations involving race, ethnicity, academic freedom and freedom of speech. In August Oberlin announced it was putting Joy Karega, an assistant professor who had made anti-Semitic statements on her Facebook page, on paid leave while her conduct was being investigated -- a move made months after the issue sparked debate. Krislov, who is Jewish, had written in March that he was affected by the situation on a personal level but also defended the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Oberlin's Board of Trustees chairman then said the postings were "abhorrent," raising issues that needed to be "considered expeditiously." Some faculty members proceeded to sign a statement condemning Karega's social media postings, and Krislov condemned anti-Semitism, prejudice and bigotry while saying Oberlin took its discrimination policy seriously.

Krislov also drew headlines earlier in the year when he opted not to respond directly to the demands of black students on the grounds those demands rejected the ideas of collaborative engagement and shared governance. Oberlin also offered hundreds of employee buyouts in May in an attempt to save a reported $1.5 million to $3.5 million.

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Penn Students Post Fliers Condemning Sexist Emails

Every year, first-year women at the University of Pennsylvania receive a crude email inviting them to a party at an off-campus fraternity. "Ladies," this year's email stated, "the year is now upon us. May we have your attention please. We're looking for the fun ones, and say 'fuck off' to a tease." The invitation also told the women to "please wear something tight."

Frustrated by the sexist nature of the email, a group of female students printed out more than 600 copies of the message and posted them around campus Monday. On top of the printouts, they wrote, "This is what rape culture looks like" and "We are watching." The fliers also included information about the university's sexual assault resources.

In a statement Tuesday, the university praised the students who posted the fliers and called the original email offensive. "Challenging offensive speech, as these students did, is important and wholly consistent with the university's ongoing efforts and the national conversation about preventing and responding to sexual misconduct," the university stated.

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Advising graduate students who are interested in an M.A., not a Ph.D. (essay)

Faculty members and administrators tend to forget that, for most undergraduates, grad school doesn’t mean a doctorate, writes J. H. Pearl.

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Distance coaching expands in Indiana and Montana, where colleges have seen retention gains

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A company's success coaches, who work remotely, help Indiana's community colleges improve student retention.

Lafayette Professor Denied Tenure Ends Hunger Strike

Juan Rojo, the assistant professor of Spanish at Lafayette College who went on a hunger strike last week over the handling of his tenure case, on Monday suspended his protest. “I do so in good faith and in recognition of and in gratitude for the faculty’s significant, multifaceted efforts to redress the procedural error in my tenure case, and the even more pressing concerns related to faculty governance that tolerating this error would convey,” he said in a statement. “I remain committed to working with my colleagues, the administration and the board so that together we can address these and other areas of concern in an effort to strengthen our institution and our educational mission.”

Rojo announced his strike at a faculty meeting on Aug. 30, citing the fact that Lafayette’s president, Alison Byerly, rejected his tenure bid, against the positive recommendation of two faculty bodies (one was unanimous). Moreover, he said, Byerly’s decision was based largely on comments from student evaluations of Rojo's teaching, which some experts argue should not be used in personnel decisions because they can be unreliable.

Byerly said in a statement Monday that she had received faculty feedback about Rojo’s case, including the proper role of the president in tenure decisions. She said she looked forward to continuing the dialogue, starting at a faculty meeting Tuesday.

Regarding her rejection of Rojo’s bid, Byerly said that in “evaluating all cases, including this one, I rely most heavily on the evidence provided by faculty colleagues, through their own classroom observations and their informed analysis of candidates’ teaching evaluations.” In reviewing the recommendation provided by the collegewide tenure committee, she said, “I found myself largely in agreement with [the] committee’s characterization of the candidate’s teaching. Where we differed is that I could not concur with their conclusion that the record described met the standard of distinction and the elements of quality teaching outlined in the Faculty Handbook.”

Rojo planned to break his strike at a local Pennsylvania restaurant at 10 a.m. Monday, after informing the board of that intention over the weekend. “Those that know me know that I do not crave the spotlight,” he said. “But I felt it important to stand up for myself, my colleagues and my institution to redress a serious procedural error as well as to protect faculty governance. I remain committed to working with the Lafayette community to move forward in a productive and timely manner.”

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Accreditation Trouble for ITT's Daniel Webster College

Daniel Webster College's regional accreditor last week told the small college, which the troubled ITT Educational Services owns, that it has reason to believe Daniel Webster may not meet accreditation standards and must "show cause" about why its approval should not be removed at a meeting later this month.

ITT, which is facing a raft of state and federal investigations as well as financial problems, recently froze all new enrollment after losing access to federal aid for new students. Roughly 45,000 students attend the for-profit chain's 130 campuses. Daniel Webster, which ITT bought in 2009 for about $40 million, enrolls 740 students at its campus in New Hampshire.


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