Tarleton State University, in Stephenville, Texas, says that it followed proper procedures in the events leading up to the resignation of Jeff William Justice, a former assistant professor of social science accused of performing a self-mutilation-based ritual in front of students. “Tarleton’s highest priority is the welfare of our students,” Cecilia Jacobs, a university spokeswoman, said via email. “These allegations were taken seriously and an investigation was promptly launched, during which time Dr. Justice was placed on administrative leave. In the midst of the investigation, Dr. Justice offered his resignation and it was accepted.”
The university had no additional comment on the allegations, but Inside Higher Ed obtained a campus police report. It is based on a complaint from a single student who says that Justice invited several students to his home and drank alcohol with them before complaining that he was sore from hanging by spikes in his chest from a tree branch in order to pray to the sun. He allegedly hung from the tree twice before the students left. The student who filed the complaint allegedly returned at a later date at Justice’s prompting, out of fear it would it affect his class grade if he did not. The student said he got scared and left, then talked to his father, who helped him report it to campus police in May.
Justice, who is no longer at Tarleton, could not immediately be reached for comment. The event was first reported by the Texan News Service, Tarleton's student newspaper. In a statement from Justice posted to the newspaper’s website, Justice denied giving alcohol to minors, but said he had attempted to harm himself in front of students due to severe depression, for which he is seeking treatment.
East Stroudsburg University must uphold an arbitrator’s decision that it reinstate and reimburse for lost wages a professor denied tenure by the university president, according to a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decision.
John Freeman, a former assistant professor of chemistry at East Stroudsburg, appealed through his union the president’s determination that he did not deserve tenure because he hadn’t sufficiently progressed as a scholar. (He was denied tenure by the previous president two years earlier and was allowed to reapply, when he was again reject by the new president, Marcia Welsh.) As dictated by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty-negotiated union contract, Freeman’s case eventually went to arbitration. The arbitrator decided that the university had violated the contract when Welsh denied Freeman tenure without reviewing the recommendations of the department chair and the universitywide tenure and promotion committee, and also by improperly consulting the provost.
The arbitrator said Freeman should be reinstated as a professor with the ability to reapply for tenure, to be determined by a neutral third party. The university challenged the arbitrator’s decision in court, which found that the president had indeed violated the terms of the contract by not consulting previous reviewers’ recommendations and by consulting with the provost.
The collective bargaining agreement “prescribes a detailed procedure by which faculty committees and department chairpersons are to submit written tenure recommendations to the president within specific time frames,” Judge Rochelle S. Friedman wrote in her opinion. “While the president may ultimately disagree with those recommendations, he or she cannot make a decision without first considering them. … [The contract] expressly permits the president to ‘act independently’ on a tenure decision only ‘if the committee(s) fail [sic] to act within the time limits specified’” for submitting recommendations to the president. Friedman also rejected East Stroudsburg’s claim that limiting the president’s authority would violate public policy.
A university spokesperson said administrators were reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment. William H. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said via email the decision’s major takeaway is that it “rested on the negotiated language concerning the tenure review procedures in the collective bargaining agreement. The excerpt of the at-issue contract provision, set forth in the court’s decision, supports the conclusion that a final decision to grant or deny tenure is to be based, in part, on a review of the positive recommendations.”
Submitted by Jake New on October 21, 2015 - 3:00am
The University of Alaska at Fairbanks "failed to follow [its] student discipline policies" in cases of campus sexual assault, the university's interim chancellor wrote in an open letter Tuesday.
"Like so many universities, our reported sexual assault statistics have been so low as to be implausible, especially when we know that sexual assault is so prevalent in Alaska," Mike Powers, the university's interim chancellor, wrote. "We investigated reports of rape, and often took informal action like removing the accused from dorms or campus. But, until recently, students were not being suspended or expelled for sexual assault, or for any major violation of our code of conduct. That is not acceptable and sends the wrong message to victims and perpetrators of this heinous violence."
The university became aware of its "inconsistent disciplinary practices" last year, Powers said. The university is one of more than 100 institutions currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for possibly mishandling cases of campus sexual assault. "We, like so many other universities, lost our way and are finding our path forward," Powers wrote.
Submitted by Jake New on October 21, 2015 - 3:00am
The Pacific 12 Conference will now feature athletes as a subgroup in its voting governance structure, the Pac-12 Council, the conference announced Tuesday. The group, called the Student Athlete Leadership Team, includes two athletes from each of the 12 member institutions, with 12 students attending every council meeting. "The perspective from our student athletes and their contribution to our policies and processes is critical as we push forward a bold agenda to address issues and preserve the best of college athletics," Larry Scott, Pac-12 commissioner, said in a statement.
The Pac-12 is the first major college athletics conference to include athletes in its formal governing process. Last year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's five wealthiest conferences -- including the Pac-12 -- began allowing athletes to vote on legislation at the NCAA's annual meeting.
The former escort, Katina Powell, said she was paid by Andre McGee, the team's former graduate assistant coach, to provide recruits with strip shows and sex during campus visits. Powell said she was paid about $10,000 by McGee for supplying dancers -- including her own daughters -- during a four-year period. In one instance, McGee allegedly offered the escort a bottle of whiskey signed by the team's head coach, Rick Pitino, as payment.
Pitino denies knowing about the parties, and the university is investigating the allegations. McGee has been placed on administrative leave at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he is now an assistant coach. ESPN confirmed that text messages sent to Powell arranging the parties came from McGee's phone, and confirmed that a wire transfer of $200 was sent to the escort by the assistant coach.
"It was crazy," one recruit, who ultimately chose not to attend Louisville, told ESPN. "It was like I was in a strip club."
Submitted by Paul Fain on October 20, 2015 - 3:00am
Moody's, the credit rating agency, this week weighed in on a recently announced U.S. Department of Education experiment to allow federal financial aid to flow to a handful of partnerships between colleges and nontraditional providers, including skills boot camps and those that offer online courses. The experiment is "credit positive," Moody's said, and "will enhance and diversify revenue opportunities for universities, with nondegree credentials attracting new participants and supplementing traditional degree programs."
The limited availability of federal financial aid will accelerate the spread of alternative credentials, said Moody's, while also magnifying the potential upside of those credentials.