Suit Charges U of Louisville President With Misconduct

A former compliance officer at the University of Louisville has filed a suit charging that he was forced out of his job for objecting to misconduct, which the suit alleges includes actions by President James Ramsey, The Courier-Journal reported. The suit charges that Ramsey made false statements to the public about when he knew about possible misconduct by senior administrators who have since resigned. Further, the suit charges that the former compliance officer was discouraged from doing his job and punished when he pursued certain issues. The university declined to comment.

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U of Texas announces new protocols for investigating campus sexual assault

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With new manual of protocols, University of Texas System instructs its police officers to base sexual assault investigations in neuroscience.

Middlebury College Bans Sale of Energy Drinks

Students looking for a quick energy boost at Middlebury College will soon have to either take the search off campus or stick to coffee. Starting this month, the college will stop selling energy drinks such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy at its campus stores and dining areas.

In an announcement last week, Dan Detora, Middlebury’s executive director of food service, warned students that energy drinks can be linked to “problematic behavior,” including “increased alcohol consumption, increased likelihood to drive while intoxicated, increased probability of use of other intoxicating substances and increased participation in high-risk sexual activity.” Students are still allowed to purchase the drinks elsewhere and bring them to campus.

While energy drinks are a popular choice for late-night study sessions, they’re also commonly consumed with alcohol, which can be a dangerous mix for young and inexperienced drinkers. A 2012 study found that college students who mixed energy drinks with alcohol were more likely to have unplanned or casual sex. Other research has found that the highly caffeinated beverages can raise blood pressure.

In November 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told makers of premixed alcoholic energy drinks that their beverages were a “public health concern” and that they could not stay on the market. The warning prompted companies to remove caffeine from the drinks, which were becoming increasingly popular with college students. Health researchers argued that the ban was not sufficient, as students could still mix energy drinks with other alcoholic beverages.

In 2011, the University of New Hampshire attempted to ban the sale of energy drinks on its campus but later walked back the decision out of respect for its “students’ ability to make informed choices about what they consume.”

Though some Middlebury students have complained about the change, the decision was made not by administrators but by the college’s Community Council, which is made up of faculty, staff and students. The idea for no longer selling the drinks was first presented to the council by a student. 

“Middlebury College respects the work its students, faculty and staff have done in researching the health effects of energy drinks and in making the recommendation that the college no longer sell such drinks in our campus retail outlets,” Bill Burger, a spokesman for the college, said. “We hope that this move will contribute to a healthier campus environment.”

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Report on Controversial Wisconsin Tenure Survey

When the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute began surveying professors within the University of Wisconsin System last year about their views on tenure, many said they worried the institute might later use the findings to promote further changes to tenure policies in the state. That’s because tenure protections in Wisconsin were already weakened by a new state law, and because the institute had previously supported some conservative positions on state work and education issues.

It seems some of those fears have come true. In a new report called “The Trouble With Tenure,” the institute cites data from two separate faculty surveys and makes a number of policy recommendations, including giving campus chancellors the ability to lay off faculty for reasons such as significant program reduction or modification, and not just discontinuance.

Other recommendations include directing campuses and departments to develop precise and tailored definitions of professional and public service that include measurable contributions to the community and economy; mandating annual reports from each campus on numbers of tenured and tenure-track faculty, staff, and annual and posttenure reviews; directing individual campuses to departments to adopt stronger posttenure review processes with clear and denied expectations; and directing departments to publicly post tenure criteria.

The institute has maintained that it’s simply tracking a significant, live policy issue and says it’s been transparent about its process and data -- including findings that demonstrate the value of tenure to professors.

David Vanness, an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and president of the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said via email that the report appeared to “break little ground,” with few exceptions. He said he thought it was clearly timed to influence the University System’s Board of Regents before their meeting next week, in that the institute seems concerned that the board “may not use its full authority granted by [the new tenure law] to fire tenured faculty essentially at will.” The document still “fails to recognize the economic value of tenure, and the need to protect academic freedom against meddling by powerful political and business interests,” he added, as well as the role tenure has played in the rise of the American university over time.

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Duke Administrator Hit Parking Attendant With Car

A parking attendant is alleging that Tallman Trask, Duke University’s executive vice president, hit her with his car and used a racial slur before a 2014 football game.

Shelvia Underwood, the parking attendant, said that she stopped Trask’s car as she was speaking with a pedestrian, The Duke Chronicle reported. As she turned to him, Trask hit her with his car and she was knocked to the ground. After Trask showed his parking pass and was allowed through, Underwood alleges that he used a racial slur.

Trask said in a statement that he did not intentionally hit Underwood. He said he thought she was allowing him to enter, but when he started moving, she stepped back in front of the car and “her hand ended up on my left fender.” Underwood filed a complaint several days after the incident, Trask said, which was investigated by the Duke police and the Office of Institutional Equity.

Trask denies using the racial slur, and he says that he wrote Underwood an apology note because he had lost his patience.

“I had assumed this was resolved more than a year ago until I received a letter last November from a Raleigh attorney threatening to sue me (not clear for what) unless I paid her an unspecified sum,” Trask said in a statement. “I declined to do so then and do not intend to do so now.”

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Iowa State student with disability battles bullying with open letter

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An Iowa State student with disabilities was mortified last month to find social media posts mocking her for using a three-wheeled scooter to get around campus. She went public.

Indiana Official, Accused of Assault, Quits

Jason Casares has resigned from Indiana University at Bloomington, where he was associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator, the university announced Friday. Casares was accused of sexual assault in an open letter earlier this month by the president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration, a position he once held. A lawyer for Casares says that he denies the charges, and no legal charges have been brought. But the case has drawn much attention because of the roles of Casares and his accuser in an organization that helps colleges prevent and deal with sex assaults.

Indiana is also reviewing all 18 misconduct cases Casares heard during his term there “to ensure that all parties involved received equitable treatment under the university's disciplinary hearing process,” per the university’s statement.

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AAUP Asks Mizzou to Rescind Termination Notice to Melissa Click

The American Association of University Professors on Friday urged the University of Missouri to immediately rescind its notice of termination to Melissa Click, the assistant professor of communication who asked for “muscle” to remove a student journalist during protests on the flagship Columbia camps this fall. In its letter to Hank Foley, interim chancellor at Columbia, AAUP cited Click’s lack of due process and the irregular means by which the university system’s Board of Curators voted to fire her last week

“Beyond its evident lack of conformity with the regulations of the University of Missouri, an action to dismiss a faculty member with indefinite tenure or a probationary faculty member within the term of appointment absent demonstration of cause in an adjudicative hearing before an elected faculty body is an action fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process,” Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of the AAUP’s department of tenure, academic freedom and governance, wrote on Click's behalf.

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Budget Impasse Could Force Major Cuts at Penn State

Pennsylvania continues to operate without a state budget for the current fiscal year. Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University, warned Friday that if the budget impasse is not resolved, 1,100 Penn State employees will be subject to layoffs and agriculture extension offices will be closed this summer, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

D2L Revamps, Releases 'Degree Compass' Tool

D2L, a Canadian education-technology company, last week made its overhauled Degree Compass tool available to colleges. Degree Compass is an automated advising system that helps students predict their optimal path to graduation. Officials at Austin Peay State University originally designed the software, which D2L later purchased and converted into a cloud-based, mobile-friendly tool. The company said last week that an initial group of almost two dozen colleges, representing a broad range of higher education, would try Degree Compass.


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