Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 14, 2012

A federal judge in Connecticut has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Yale University by Dongguk University, in South Korea, the Associated Press reported. Dongguk says that it suffered huge losses from a scandal that can be traced to Yale incorrectly confirming that a professor there had earned a doctorate at Yale. The South Korean university says that it lost millions in government grants and donations because of the scandal when the professor was said to have had a love affair with an aide to South Korea's president. Yale has denied wrongdoing in the case.

 

February 14, 2012

The presidents of 16 universities in what are now Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference announced Monday that they plan to create one league that would span 6,000 miles, include as many as two dozen sports programs, and be "built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship," they said. The presidents and chancellors met secretly in Dallas on Sunday and agreed to a plan not to stabilize their current conferences (which have been the targets of raids by several other leagues in recent months) but to create a merged league (beginning in 2013-14) that the presidents believe can go toe to toe with the other major sports conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The involved universities are Colorado State, East Carolina University, Fresno State, Marshall, Rice, and Tulane Universities; the U.S. Air Force Academy; and the Universities of Alabama at Birmingham, Hawai'i, Nevada at Las Vegas and Nevada at Reno, New Mexico, Southern Mississippi, Texas at El Paso, Tulsa and Wyoming.

February 14, 2012

The Association of Title IX Administrators, a group of officials charged with ensuring gender equity on campuses, issued a declaration of support Monday for the Office for Civil Rights’ controversial “dear colleague” letter that reiterated institutional responsibilities in responding to and preventing sexual assault. The declaration was co-authored by the Women's Sports Foundation.

The letter has drawn negative responses from general counsels and free speech groups, particularly for its clarification that, when considering complaints of harassment and assault, institutions need only apply a preponderance of evidence standard – meaning it’s “more likely than not” that the complaint has merit. While critics have worried the standard might lead a college’s judicial body to issue unwarranted punishments, the association called the standard “the only equitable choice under Title IX as it avoids the presumption, inherent in a higher standard of proof, that the word of a victim is less weighty than the word of an accused individual’s denial.”

The administrators praised the letter’s emphasis on equitable treatment for victims and accused students. Both parties are entitled to certain privileges – a campus advocate for the victim, for instance, or fair notice of the charges for the accused – that colleges have at times been criticized for violating.

February 14, 2012

The American Bar Association's House of Delegates has approved a resolution urging flexibility by the Law School Admission Council on requests for accommodations by people with disabilities when they take the Law School Admission Test. The resolution calls for information to be made available to test-takers on their options. Further, the resolution urges those involved in standardized testing not to differentiate between those who took the test with an accommodation and those who did not. While the resolution does not mention the council by name, the measure appears a clear reference to legal disputes the council has faced over requests from some test-takers for accommodations, and for those accommodations not to be "flagged" to law schools.

 

February 14, 2012

Pennsylvania State University on Monday published online details of $3.2 million in expenses related to the allegations that Jerry Sandusky -- formerly an assistant football coach -- sexually abused children, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bills include legal fees, charges for an independent outside investigation and public relations work. Insurance will cover only a small part of the expenses, but Penn State officials said that the other bills would not be paid with state funds or tuition.

 

February 14, 2012

Full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members lack a professional identity and a sense of self-worth, according to a new paper in the journal American Behavioral Scientist. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 18 full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members in English departments. “Right now, they have become like serfs – a labor force for tenure-track faculty,” said John S. Levin, who is the Bank of America Professor of Education Leadership at the University of California at Riverside. “That needs to change. Institutions need to take responsibility for these employees.”

February 13, 2012

An American student at the American University in Cairo was arrested Friday and charged with fomenting dissent, the Associated Press reported. University officials said that they had no information about the arrest, which came amid a series of arrests of Americans working for nongovernmental organizations that promote democracy. Students at the university -- and students at many other universities in Cairo -- have been calling for a general strike this week to protest the continued control of the government by the military, a year after Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

February 13, 2012

A state audit released Friday revealed that Dickinson State University, in North Dakota, had awarded hundreds of degrees to Chinese students who did not complete required coursework and who in some cases may not have been able to do so, The Forum reported. The report described a campus that was so focused on attracting students that it cut corners to build its international enrollments. When the audit is shared with various authorities, Dickinson could face sanctions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (over visa issues), from the state (over enrollment figures) and from accreditors (over failure to assure educational quality). At a news briefing Friday, officials said that there was no one person or office responsible for the problems, but rather a series of inappropriate decisions involving the multicultural affairs, admissions and academic records offices, as well as a number of academic departments.

Briefings on campus about the audit were interrupted by reports that a university official, with a weapon, was missing. Later, Doug LaPlante, dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences, was found dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. The audit did not mention LaPlante by name, but officials said that many of the students who were awarded degrees inappropriately had been enrolled in the college he led.

No disciplinary actions were announced against anyone involved in the scandal, but officials told The Forum that Jon Brudvig had resigned as vice president for academic affairs, but would continue in another position.

The institution has been under scrutiny for months, starting with reports in August that it had listed about 180 people as enrolled who never were enrolled.

February 13, 2012

China has seen a surge in private colleges in recent years, with hundreds of new institutions created in the last 15 years, The Washington Post reported. Many of the institutions are seen as second choices for those who can't win a spot at a public university, and they charge double the tuition of public institutions, but so many students want a higher education that these institutions continue to attract enrollments.

February 13, 2012

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Friday rejected the University of Connecticut's request that the association waive a penalty that will ban the Huskies from the NCAA men's basketball championship in 2012-13 because of its players' past academic underperformance, the university announced. UConn officials, who said they would ask an NCAA appellate panel to review the decision by the association's Committee on Academic Performance to an appellate panel, had argued that it would be unfair to penalize next year's UConn players for the academic woes of players who have long since left the university. Connecticut proposed a set of alternative penalties, including forgoing revenues that its conference would have received from the university's participation in the tournament and restricting recruiting by its head coach, Jim Calhoun.

 

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