Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 27, 2012

Athletic officials at Radford University were already in trouble when the National Collegiate Athletic Association learned that players on the men’s tennis and men’s basketball teams, and one prospective basketball recruit, received impermissible benefits such as transportation, lodging and meals. But university officials made the case all the worse by “not only providing false and misleading information, but the encouragement of a student athlete to do the same,” Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions said in a call with reporters Friday. “This conduct, which is really the essence of this case, is obviously inconsistent with the core values of honesty and sportsmanship, and completely counter to a coach’s responsibility to educate student athletes in their program.”

As punishment, Radford will receive public reprimand and censure; two years’ probation; a two-scholarship reduction in basketball for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; vacation of four wins during the 2010-11 season, when an ineligible athlete competed, and a $2,000 penalty ($500 for each game in which said athlete played); and, self-imposed by the university, a reduction of two official paid visits in basketball during the 2011-12 academic year and the suspension of the head tennis coach during the 2011 season. In addition, the NCAA imposed a five-year "show cause" penalty on any institution that hires two former assistant basketball coaches and a former director of operations, requiring them to explain why they should not limit those officials' recruiting activities.

Radford is the latest to be reprimanded for a deliberate cover-up, following the University of Tennessee and Louisiana State and Ohio State Universities last year. Not only did coaches knowingly violate NCAA rules, the public infractions report says, the head basketball coach in interviews during the investigation didn’t disclose several instances of students getting impermissible travel and lodging from other coaches, and in one instance lied about whether he was aware of such activity. He also told staff and coaches not to provide further information to the NCAA, the report says. It goes on to say that the athlete whom the coach encouraged to “provide false and misleading information” to  the committee ended up withdrawing as a student after undergoing “serious emotional distress.”

This was Radford’s first major infractions case.

February 27, 2012

The Women's Campaign of the University of Cambridge is organizing a petition drive to disinvite Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- the former head of the International Monetary Fund -- to speak at the university. "The Cambridge Union Society's decision to invite Dominique Strauss-Kahn to speak this term displays, when interpreted most charitably, a callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy. At worst, the invitation betrays an abhorrent disregard for the many survivors of sexual violence amongst the student body," says the petition. "We believe that free speech is about more than inviting rich, white, powerful (in this case allegedly rapist) men to define the union's termcard year after year." The petition notes that Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of anything but says that this is "because of institutional sexism in the legal system."

Katie Lam, president of the group that invited him, defended the decision. "The reason he's been invited is because he's a fascinating figure and has exceptional knowledge in this field," she told AFP. "So I don't think it's inappropriate to have invited him. Speaking at the Union doesn't imply approval or endorsement, or indeed disapproval."

February 27, 2012

Faculty members at Coppin State University have voted -- overwhelmingly -- that they lack confidence in President Reginald Avery, The Baltimore Sun reported. "[Avery] has brought neither a clear vision of mission to CSU, nor established a coherent or viable strategic plan, nor wisely allocated resources," wrote Nicholas Eugene, the leader of the Faculty Senate, in a letter to William E. Kirwan, chancellor of Maryland's university system. "We feel that despite the efforts of faculty, Dr. Avery's leadership has resulted in a dilution of the academic quality at CSU." Avery told the newspaper that he would work to improve communication with professors, and he vowed to continue his work at the university.

 

February 27, 2012

Education Secretary Arne Duncan took the night off from speeches on college costs for some basketball Friday -- and dominated the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. In the past, Duncan has called for reforms of college sports, but he used his time in the spotlight Friday to focus on the nation's high school dropout rate (and to make this pass):

 

February 27, 2012

The rectors of two Russian universities -- Moscow State and St. Petersburg State Universities -- may avoid complying with a Russian law requiring university leaders to report all of their income and assets, The Moscow Times reported. The 2009 law applies to institutions created "by the Russian Federation," but both of those universities were created by Russian royals in the 1700s.

February 27, 2012

City College of San Francisco trustees earn $500 for attending monthly board meetings, but they get paid even if they skip meetings, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. And some of them skip a lot of meetings. The newspaper reported that one trustee has missed one third of all meetings since 2010, and that all seven elected trustees have been present at only 5 of the last 24 meetings. The article quoted officials as saying that the payments to trustees who did not attend meetings violated the state's education code.

 

February 27, 2012

An alumna's letter in the Smith College student newspaper, The Sophian, angered many on the campus last week. The letter writer -- noting Smith's progress in recent years at recruiting low-income, minority and international students -- questioned whether the institution has become "a safety school" as a result. "The people who are attending Smith these days are A) lesbians or B) international students who get financial aid or C) low-income women of color who are the first generation in their family to go to college and will go to any school that gives them enough money.... or D) white heterosexual girls who can't get into Ivy League schools." The letter also questioned Smith's policy of not requiring SAT scores.

Many students and alumni responded with outrage. On Friday, Smith's president, Carol T. Christ, issued an open letter to respond to the alumna's letter. "The letter writer is ignorant about a number of issues. Admission to Smith is far more competitive now than it was in the 1980s, when the letter writer attended Smith," Christ wrote. "We now have the highest number of applicants and the lowest admit rate in our history. The most competitively admitted students at Smith are international students on financial aid; only 10 percent of applicants are admitted. The strongest and most consistent correlation with SAT scores is family income. Most students do submit scores and we, of course, submit them to all of the data-collecting organizations in which we participate, including U.S. News & World Report."

February 27, 2012

The American Educational Research Association announced Friday that, in response to recent Georgia laws viewed as hostile to immigrants, the association will move its 2013 annual meeting from Atlanta to San Francisco. "As a matter of policy, AERA has an affirmative obligation to operate its own functions and monitor its own behavior in accordance with the research policies it supports, its code of ethics, and a commitment as a democratic organization to the values of equity, equality, and transparency. The relocation from Georgia helps to ensure that AERA members and other annual meeting participants have equal access to engage in AERA activities free of constraint, distraction, and intimidation that could occur under this law," said the association's statement.

The issue of when disciplinary associations should relocate annual meetings -- the locations for which are typically selected years in advance -- has created controversies in numerous fields. Currently, historians are sponsoring an online discussion on the topic.

February 24, 2012

For-profit colleges will grow as they continue to fill a gap left by public higher education, which cannot keep pace with demand thanks to slumping government support, according to a new study by John Aubrey Douglass, a senior research fellow at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley. That growth will not be due to well-thought-out policy, and will happen despite concerns about the performance of for-profits, Douglass writes. This "policy default" in the United States follows a pattern in Brazil, South Korea and Poland -- dubbed "the Brazilian Effect" -- that will encourage lower-quality institutions and fail to meet national educational goals, the study predicts.

February 24, 2012

Officials in Ontario are considering a plan -- not yet made public but obtained by The Canadian Press -- under which students would take three of their five courses each semester online. "As the world of online learning expands, Ontario will be at the forefront of this digital, portable and low-cost alternative," the plan says. The plan also calls for more students to graduate in three years, and for colleges to improve their productivity by 3 percent a year. Student groups aren't impressed by the plan. "The fact that they're talking about such a massive overhaul without having reached out to faculty or students is cause for concern," said Sandy Hudson, president of the Canadian Federation of Students. "To think that three in five of all courses — the majority of courses in a year that students would be doing — would be online, that is definitely harming the quality of education."

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