administrators

Blinn Faculty Senate Votes No Confidence in President

The Faculty Senate at Blinn College has voted no confidence in Harold Nolte, the district president, The Eagle reported. Professors at the Texas community college said that there is no respect by the administration for shared governance and they object to numerous changes in which programs have been reorganized and class schedules changed. An underlying issue is the district's decision to hire six deans who took over duties that had been handled at the department and division level. Nolte said he was "very disappointed" in the vote but declined to comment further.

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Essay urges UNCF to reject major gift from Koch brothers

On Friday, June 6, 2014, the United Negro College Fund accepted a $25 million donation from the Koch brothers. I urge the historic organization to consider giving it back. This money is tainted and there will be strings attached.

I authored a book titled Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund in 2007. The book tells the story of the creation of the UNCF and its delicate relationship with white philanthropy, mainly the Rockefeller family.  Research tells us that white industrial philanthropists supported black colleges in order to educate a semi-skilled labor force for their businesses and those of their friends, and to control the education of black people. The money created opportunities during desperate times for some black students at UNCF institutions, but that doesn’t make the motives irrelevant. Given these historical motives, I’m compelled to ask: What are the motives of the Koch brothers, given their past affiliations and activities?  

Since its establishment in 1944, the UNCF has worked across party lines and has taken money from people of all political persuasions. They have often had little choice, given the lack of access to capital that African Americans have had throughout American history.  However, in the 1970s, under the leadership of Vernon Jordan and Christopher Edley Sr., the UNCF began to push back against the control that came bundled with white philanthropic support – control that manifested in the organization not being able to write a check for over $250 without the authorization of Rockefeller’s associates. The UNCF took on a stronger position, began hiring more black fund-raisers, and launched an edgy Ad Council campaign – "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" – that pushed back against American racism and the oppression of blacks. 

Alternative Point of View

The UNCF's goal of helping students at black colleges requires a focus on the value of philanthropy, not the politics of the donor, writes Brian K. Bridges. Read more.

Times have changed. Taking a donation from the Koch brothers hammers away at the integrity of the UNCF. Yes, $25 million  is alluring and could be used to help black students. However, the costs are too high. The end does not justify the means. The Koch brothers have a considerable history of supporting efforts to disenfranchise black voters through their backing of the American Legislative Exchange Council. In addition, the Koch brothers have given huge amounts of money to Tea Party candidates who oppose many policies, initiatives, and laws that empower African Americans.

The UNCF has also given the Koch brothers two seats on the five-person committee that determines who will receive the scholarship money that the Koch brothers donated. Specifically, “An advisory board consisting of two UNCF representatives, two Koch representatives, and one faculty member from an existing school will be created to review scholarship applications and select recipients.” This is dangerous and gives the Koch brothers too much influence.

I urge the UNCF to consider returning this money to the Koch brothers. Yes, I know the organization needs it, but the cost is too high. Call Warren Buffet and beg him to give you the money instead. Call Oprah and ask her to help. Call every wealthy celebrity/athlete/business person who cares about education and the rights of African Americans and ask them to give. Make a plea to every black college alumnus, noting that you need him or her to save the UNCF’s integrity. 

As designed by Tuskegee University President Frederick D. Patterson, the United Negro College Fund is a hallmark of African-American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.  It is the organization that taught all of us that a mind is a terrible thing to Waste.  Please join me in letting the UNCF know that an organization’s integrity is also a terrible thing to lose. 

Oh, and while you are at it, please make a donation to the UNCF and support historically black colleges and African-American students. It’s not right to complain unless you put your money where your mouth is. I’m making my donation right now.

Marybeth Gasman is professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Gasman is the author of Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund (John Hopkins University Press, 2007).

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U. of Oregon Rejects Professor's Plan for Sex Assault Survey

The University of Oregon has rejected a professor’s proposal to conduct a campus climate survey to obtain data about sexual assault on campus, The Register-Guard reported. Jennifer Freyd, a longtime Oregon professor of psychology, said she asked the university for $30,000 to pay 1,000 participants for their time and for student email addresses to distribute the survey. She and several graduate students would have completed the project over the summer for free, to meet an internal reporting deadline for a faculty body and in response to recent calls from the White House for colleges and universities to collect such data.

Freyd, who studies sexual violence and has worked with members of Congress on military sexual trauma policy, says the Oregon administration expressed early enthusiasm about her project. So she was surprised last week to discover the university had rejected the proposal, she said, noting that she was shocked by the university’s “tone” in the Register-Guard report. Robin Holmes, vice president for student affairs, was quoted as saying she worried that the survey could produce “confirmation bias in the results." Freyd said she has been publicly critical of Oregon’s response to a high-profile sexual assault case on that campus, and filed a federal complaint. But she said she is a scientist and her survey tool is similar to one the White House recommends.

Via email, a university spokeswoman said the university would carry out the research, but that it could be "best be accomplished"  by outside experts working in conjunction with university staff. Freyd says she’s not opposed to the university conducting its own study, since more data makes for a better understanding of what’s going on at Oregon – but she also wants to carry out her own project.

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Facing Enrollment Dip, Suffolk U. Freezes Salaries

Suffolk University has announced that it is freezing salaries for the next fiscal year, The Boston Globe reported. The institution said it was facing an $11 million drop in budgeted revenue due in large part to enrollment shortfalls.

 

Bill Funk, top higher ed headhunter, steps down from Florida State U. search

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One of the nation's top higher ed search consultants quits the Florida State presidential search after faculty vote no confidence in him.

Amateur model at core of suit challenging NCAA's policies on player likenesses

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As major antitrust class action involving players' likenesses gets under way, NCAA settles related lawsuit over video game images for $20 million.

Lawsuits pose existential threat to the NCAA (essay)

I admit it: I may have been wrong. As recently as a year ago, I wrote an essay in these pages explaining why the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s so-called amateur model would not break apart.  

It has not occurred yet, but many signs point toward the end of the NCAA’s unpaid, never-allowed-to-be-paid college athlete.

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote College Sports Inc. and in the introduction disputed the NCAA’s “myth” that “College athletes are amateurs.... Reality: A school gives an athlete [particularly football and men’s basketball players] a full-ride grant in exchange for the athlete’s services in a commercial entertainment venture, namely playing on one of the school’s sports teams.”  

More on the O'Bannon Case
  • Antitrust lawsuits could force much-needed change in college sports -- but Congress should step in instead, write Matt Mitten and Steve Ross. Read more.
  • As the trial gets under way, NCAA settles related lawsuit over video game images for $20 million. Read more.

The main reaction to that argument by college sports fans, at least those who wrote or spoke to me, was “You’re crazy,” or, more politely, “You don’t understand the reality of the amateur student-athlete”; in addition, many members of the sports media, in interviews and book reviews, echoed those sentiments. Both groups also dismissed the book’s title and denied the commercialism of big-time college sports.  (The editors of Inside Higher Ed, in their previous capacity, were among the few who took the book’s arguments seriously.)

In the years since then, as the commercialism of big-time college football and basketball multiplied geometrically, fewer and fewer people told me that I was “crazy” and that the NCAA’s “student-athlete” model worked well, especially in the major revenue sports.  Many more people started to share my point of view and argue for better compensation for athletes than athletic scholarships.  

When asked whether anything could change the system, I always replied that reform could not come from within -- the NCAA had billions of reasons, most of them in U.S. currency, to maintain the status quo. But change could come from outside, especially if an athlete brought a lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s “amateur model” and the courts found in the athlete’s favor. 

Frankly, I was skeptical about that ever happening: the athlete would need to find a high-powered law firm that could fight and beat the NCAA’s legion of well-paid lawyers; in addition, if the athlete was still playing college sports, he or she would have to deal with a head coach and assistants who would probably be very hostile to the lawsuit and who also controlled the athlete’s playing time.

I did not foresee that a former college athlete, Ed O’Bannon, would begin the legal challenge to the NCAA by claiming that he deserved some money from the association’s use of his image in an EA Sports video game. But I totally agreed with his argument. Then an excellent law firm took his case and he was joined as plaintiff by some other former players, including Oscar Robertson.  Nevertheless, I still believed that victory for the O’Bannon group was a long shot and I argued in my piece for Inside Higher Ed last year that if the NCAA lost, it would fight the case through higher courts and to the Supreme Court itself, and very well might, in the end, prevail.

The case has now progressed through the pre-trial stages, and recently O’Bannon’s lawyers narrowed the focus to concentrate on what the lead lawyer Michael Hausfeld described as “their priority ... to cause change to the system and structure of college sports” i.e., blow up the NCAA’s “amateur model." 

In addition, O’Bannon’s lawyers intentionally avoided a jury trial and ensured that the presiding judge, Claudia Wilken, will hear the case. So far in her pre-trial rulings, she seems sympathetic to the arguments of the O’Bannon side but, of course, that is still far from a final verdict in their favor. (See news article about the trial's first day here.)

What happens if O’Bannon wins and the NCAA’s “amateur model” is ruled invalid?  Will the NCAA, with almost infinitely deep pockets, take the fight through higher courts and eventually overturn the original verdict? 

The consensus of many lawyers familiar with the case is that appeals succeed when the judge and/or trial lawyers screw up in a major way, e.g., seriously misinterpret the law or make some other egregious blunder.  These same lawyers take the view that Judge Wilken so far has been very careful not to make errors, making a successful appeal unlikely.

If O’Bannon’s team prevails, the post-mortems will begin, as well as predictions and plans for a model of college sports to replace the amateur one. In last year’s essay, I predicted that if the courts rule against the NCAA, the association will get Congress to institute college athlete amateurism as law.  I am much less certain about that outcome: the combination of legislative gridlock and, as recent Congressional hearings on college sports demonstrated, opposition to the NCAA makes a new law more like a NCAA “Hail Mary” pass than a two-yard plunge for a TD. 

Thus, if O’Bannon wins, the future of the current college sports model could be seriously threatened.

I know one thing for certain: I hereby resign from the fortune-telling business.

Murray Sperber teaches in the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education program at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Ohio Gives Bomb-Sniffing Dogs to 3 Universities

The Ohio Department of Public Safety is giving bomb-sniffing dogs to three universities this week as part of an effort to expand campus security capabilities, the Associated Press reported. The dogs are trained not only for bomb detection but for help in managing security at large-scale events. Bowling Green State, Ohio State and Youngstown State Universities are receiving the dogs.

 

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Four faculty members offer to job share a president's duties and salary

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Four faculty members jointly apply to lead a university, offering to share pay and duties -- and suggesting that it's time to narrow the divide between faculty and administration.

Study Documents Impact of 'Directed' Giving Options

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research points to the financial advantages of letting donors designate where in a large university their money might be used. The study used two groups at Texas A&M University at College Station in which one was sent an appeal for the annual fund, and the other was sent a similar appeal, but with the chance to designate some of their gift to the college they attended within Texas A&M. The researchers found no significant difference in the rates at which donors made any gift. But those with the option to designate, if they gave, made larger contributions. The study was by Catherine Eckel and Jonathan Meer of Texas A&M, and David Herberich of the University of Chicago. An abstract of the study may be found here.

 

 

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