Higher Education Quick Takes
The literary world has been stunned to learn of the ouster of Marc Smirnoff as editor of The Oxford American over allegations of sexual harassment -- allegations that he denies. Because the magazine's office is on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, that institution responded with its own investigation -- confirming allegations related to the office environment for interns and others. The university found that '[t]here were many examples of inappropriate sexual conversation and language, obscene gestures were witnessed and potential sexual harassment situations were documented," The Log Cabin Democrat reported. The university recommended new procedures to prevent harassment, and the publisher of the magazine has agreed to carry them out.
Deep Springs College on Wednesday formally invited women to apply for admission to the class that will enroll in the fall of 2013. Deep Springs announced last year that it would admit women, but the college didn't specify a timetable. The college is a small, unusual institution that admits very small classes (currently, enrollment in the two-year program is 26, and there are no plans to increase enrollment with coeducation) of highly intelligent students who take intense courses while managing both the college and its farm in an isolated spot in the High Desert of California. Students who complete the program are admitted as transfer students to some of the most competitive colleges in the country. All students receive a full scholarship (worth $50,000 a year).
David Neidorf, the president, said in an interview that the college would make no changes -- "none whatsoever" -- in its academic or non-academic expectations of students. He said that the main decision the college faced, after deciding to admit women, was whether to go gender-blind in admissions or to aim to admit classes with roughly equal numbers of men and women. The college opted for the latter approach for now, with the goal of "critical mass," he said. He said he expected that at some point in the future, the college would become gender-blind in admissions.
Some alumni who disagree with the decision to admit woman have sued the college to block coeducation. The official invitation to women states that, due to litigation, "we may be prevented from admitting them to the college," but goes on to express optimism that coeducation will start in 2013. Neidorf said that much of the legal challenge focuses on a specific trust that was set up to support the education of men. He said that this trust provides only about 9 percent of the college's funds, so that Deep Springs plans to rely on its other financial resources until the litigation ends.
Some critics of coeducation at Deep Springs have questioned whether student romances may become more prevalent and potentially problematic at Deep Springs with both male and female students present in an isolated, closely knit environment. Neidorf said that there will be "no hard and fast rules," but that there would be discussion of the values of "self-conscious introspection" and "collective responsibility" with regard to the personal choices students make.
A group of engaged University of Virginia alumni released a public letter Wednesday calling for the university's board to be more forthright about why members asked President Teresa Sullivan to resign before reinstating her 18 days later. The letter applauds the decision to reinstate, but argues that the reluctance to fully explain why board members asked her to resign in the first place is nothing by "window-dressing and cover-up" and continues to impair the university's reputation. The letter states that the board failed at the basic responsibilities of corporate governance. "Reconciliation that does not analyze Board operations openly and comprehensively, in order to permit fundamental changes in the Board's operation and committee structure, and possibly the Board's composition, will ultimately reconcile nothing," they wrote.
The board is holding its annual retreat in Richmond next week.
The University of Minnesota and its men’s basketball coach were not negligent in their dealings with an aspiring assistant coach who said he left his previous institution because Minnesota had promised him a job there, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The decision overturns previous rulings from the district and appeals court that found in favor of James R. Williams, the assistant coach, and frees Minnesota of any damages.
Williams sued in 2007, alleging that he had accepted an assistant coaching job offer from the coach, Tubby Smith, but never got it. Minnesota maintained that Smith had interviewed Williams, but never reached an employment agreement because of Williams’s record of National Collegiate Athletic Association recruiting violations. The university also pointed out that it did not encourage Williams to resign from Oklahoma State University and put his house on the market. The court found that Smith had in fact told Williams that the athletics director would make the final hiring decision, so the university could not have misled Williams, as he claimed.
The proportion of all higher education employees whose work focuses on instruction or research rather than administration edged up slightly in 2011, but the proportion of instructors at four-year public universities who worked part time continued to rise, according to data released Tuesday by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. The statistics, included in an annual publication that examines data on colleges' employment patterns and student financial aid, show the number of workers rising to 3.92 million at postsecondary institutions that award federal financial aid, with about 1.9 million involved in instruction or research (including graduate assistants) and the rest in administration or staff jobs. Of the instructional/research staff at public four-year institutions, 36.2 percent worked part time, up from 35.5 percent in 2010. The proportion of instructors who were part time actually fell, though, at community colleges and at private nonprofit four-year institutions.
The report also provides data on the price (before and after financial aid is awarded) at different types of institutions.
Higher One, a student payment processing service, on Tuesday announced its purchase of Campus Labs, a software company focused on student affairs. Higher One is a publicly traded company that currently dominates the market for debit cards colleges use to disburse financial aid to students, a business that has at times been controversial. The purchase of Campus Labs marks an expansion by the company into a new area.
Students with disabilities have a more difficult transition to college and the work force than do other students, and the lack of coordination among federal agencies and programs contributes to those problems, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report Tuesday.
Online teacher education is growing rapidly, according to an analysis published by USA Today. The newspaper found that four large universities (three of them for-profit) have become the largest teacher education institutions in the country, measured by degrees awarded. In the top spot is the University of Phoenix Online, which awarded 5,976 education degrees in 2011, up from 72 a decade before. The top four institutions awarded 1 in 16 bachelor's degree and post-graduate certificates in education in 2011, and 1 in 11 master's and doctoral degrees.