Higher Education Quick Takes
Saint Joseph's University announced Thursday that serious cardiovascular issues will prevent its new president from stepping into the job. Father Joseph O'Keefe was chosen as the Roman Catholic institution's president in January, but a routine pre-employment physical uncovered the medical issues, the statement said. Father O'Keefe was due to start May 18, but instead will take a year's leave from Boston College, where he was dean of education.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has placed Southern Methodist University on probation for two years for committing major violations of the association's recruiting rules in men's basketball. In the case, which was concluded through the NCAA's summary disposition process (which is used when there is no dispute about the findings or penalties), SMU's coaches sent impermissible text messages to parents of at least seven men's basketball recruits, after getting erroneous advice from a former compliance officer about the propriety of doing so. The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions and the university agreed on a series of recruiting restrictions this year and next as punishment for the violations.
A faculty panel at the Widener University School of Law has recommended that the institution stop trying to fire Lawrence J. Connell, a law professor, over hypothetical examples he used in class involving the killing of the law dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Connell has maintained that the use of hypothetical examples -- even ones involving violence and known individuals -- is common and is part of the teaching process. He also has said that he is facing ouster because he is a conservative. He outlined his views on the controversy in an interview on the website of the National Association of Scholars.
Hoping to tap into Governor Scott Walker's interest in giving more independence to the state's flagship university in Madison, University of Wisconsin System leaders on Thursday released a proposal that would give similar autonomy to all of the public colleges and universities in the UW system. The "Wisconsin Idea Partnership," as the plan is called, would "build on" Walker's controversial plan to offer "new operational freedom to UW-Madison," while "extending the new flexibilities to all UW campuses as part of a unified system," the system's Board of Regents said.
A coalition of higher education groups on Thursday asked Congressional leaders to push for a one-year delay in two Education Department regulations that are scheduled to take effect in July. The groups, organized as usual by the American Council on Education, urged Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who heads the House of Representatives postsecondary education subcommittee, to either encourage or force the Education Department to delay the implementation date of rules that would establish a federal definition of "credit hour" and expand state authorization requirements (see related Views essay). The two rules are part of a larger package of regulations aimed at protecting the integrity of federal financial aid programs, and they "will have little or no effect in curbing fraud and abuse, but they could do enormous damage to the quality and diversity of postsecondary academic offerings," the groups wrote. Education Department officials have ignored previous requests from the higher education associations to change or rescind the rules, the groups said. And with time running out, neither state officials nor campus administrators have guidance about how to implement the new rules, making for an impossible situation, the associations suggest.
A strike by faculty members led Vancouver Island University to cancel all classes Thursday, The Vancouver Sun reported. Faculty members are pushing for more job security at a time that provincial funds for higher education are being cut.
The Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, facing yet another round of massive budget cuts, will hear a proposal Friday that would entail closing or merging four of the system's eight campuses, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Threatened in the plan are Nevada State College, the system's nine-year-old four-year college, the Desert Research Institute, Western Nevada College and Great Basin College, according to the newspaper. Governor Brian Sandoval's budget would require the university system to cut $162 million by 2013, almost 30 percent of its 2011 allocation.
Legislators in Florida on Wednesday dropped from a larger bill a provision that would have allowed individuals to carry concealed weapons on college and university campuses in the state, the Miami Herald reported. The proposal to allow concealed carry on campuses, one of many being considered around the country, was opposed strongly by college leaders, campus police chiefs and students, and backed by the National Rifle Association.
A 50 percent budget cut proposed Tuesday by Pennsylvania's governor could force Pennsylvania State University to shutter some of its 24 campuses, the university's president said at a news conference Wednesday. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Graham Spanier as calling such an outcome a "distinct possibility," saying that the cutback, which he and other college leaders vowed to fight, would threaten the "viability" of some of the university's regional campuses. A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, meanwhile, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the state-college system was not considering closing any of its campuses, despite a Democratic lawmaker's prediction that Governor Tom Corbett's proposed cut could compel such a result.