Quick Takes: Wrongdoing and No Punishments in MIT Hiring Dispute, Changes Ordered for MCAT, Mansfield U. May Drop Football, Admissions Fraud in U. of Iowa Swimming, Less Overwork for Medical Residents

November 3, 2006
  • A faculty panel has found plenty of blame to go around in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's failed attempt to hire Alla Karpova -- considered one of the finest young talents in neuroscience. Karpova turned down an MIT job offer and in July, some documents related to the search were leaked to The Boston Globe indicating that Susumu Tonegawa, a neuroscientist at MIT and a Nobel laureate, has discouraged her from accepting the position. On Thursday, MIT released a series of letters and a report calling for more coordination and cooperation in searches. The faculty panel found that Tonegawa was within his rights to tell Karpova that he would not collaborate with her, but that it was inappropriate for him to tell her she wouldn't have access to some MIT facilities and for him to discourage her from accepting a job offer. The panel also found that numerous procedures involving the search weren't standard, resulting in frustration for Tonegawa and others. The report said that there was "no evidence" that gender bias motivated Tonegawa, but it also said that the case has "gender implications" and that it may make it more difficult for MIT to attract female talent. The Globe reported that there will be no punishments in the case.
  • A California judge has ordered the Association of American Medical Colleges to develop new procedures for considering the requests of people with disabilities for extra time or other  accommodations when taking the Medical College Admissions Test, the Associated Press reported. The ruling came in a suit brought by four college graduates with learning disabilities who were denied extra time on the MCAT -- a decision that the judge said violated state civil rights laws.
  • Mansfield University of Pennsylvania is contemplating dropping its 115-year-old football program because the institution faces a budget squeeze, university officials said in a statement released out of the blue Thursday. Mansfield, which played host to the first-ever night football game in 1892, has been in campuswide discussions about the university's financial state more or less since Maravene S. Loeschke became its president in July, said Steve McCloskey, a spokesman. The terse statement released Thursday said: "The Mansfield University administration and Council of Trustees is considering the termination of the football program due to budget considerations. The university must make serious financial adjustments to its 2007-08 fiscal year budget. No final decision about the program has been made at this time." McCloskey described the statement as a "rumor control" technique, but suggested that its release had perhaps had the opposite effect: "We're hearing from everyone, from the Associated Press to parents to former players to fans."
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished the University of Iowa's men's swimming program Thursday after finding that the team's former coach had helped three former athletes defraud admissions officials at the institution to hide the fact that they had previously attended college in Poland. Because of the fraudulent behavior, which the former coach both encouraged and participated in, the athletes competed for Iowa when they should have been ineligible, and the NCAA put Iowa's sports program on two years' probation and limited its swimming scholarships.
  • The proportion of medical residents who said they had worked more than 80 hours a week in the previous four weeks at any point during the 2005-6 academic year fell to 2.4 percent, spread among 18.7 percent of all residency programs, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education announced Thursday. That is down from 3.0 percent among 21 percent of programs in 2004-5 and 3.4 percent of residents among 24.8 percent of programs, the council said. The issue of excessive hours worked by doctors in training has been a major issue in recent years amid concerns about substandard patient care and ill health by the physicians themselves. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September challenged the downward trend reported by the accrediting group.
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