Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:28am

The California State University System is facing a period of dramatic change in campus leadership, The Los Angeles Times reported. Five long-serving presidents have announced retirement plans. Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the system since 1998, said he couldn't remember a time when the system had as many presidential openings, and that there may be additional retirements within a year. The campuses where presidents have announced that they will retire are the Cal State institutions in Fullerton, Northridge, San Bernardino and San Francisco, and the California Maritime Academy.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is facing questions and criticism over its decision on Friday to remove from its Facebook page comments about the strike by faculty members at the institution. The university removed the comments after a number were posted that urged officials to settle the strike or that expressed sympathy with the faculty members. Rod Sievers, a spokesman for the university, said that the university noticed some comments that were "profane" or were "personal attacks," and that some of the comments were "pretty vile." He said that campus officials initially tried to delete only that type of material, but that the university has only a single person to monitor the Facebook page. "That person couldn't keep up with the profanity and personal attacks. So the university had to stop all comments," Sievers said.

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:33am

The University of Colorado Board of Regents plans to reconsider a policy that generally allows tenured faculty members who are fired to remain on payroll for a year, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. It is rare for tenured faculty members to be fired, so the policy is rarely invoked, but the pay rule attracted attention when Ward Churchill was fired as an ethnic studies professor at the Boulder campus and he collected about $96,000 in salary after his dismissal. Under the shift being proposed, the board could determine whether a fired professor should be paid, and the board would consider recommendations on the issue from a faculty committee.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The presidents of public universities in Illinois have issued a joint letter opposing a pension reform plan that would give their faculty members -- and other state employees -- the option of paying more for current benefit levels, or of receiving smaller payments at various points in the future, The Pantagraph reported. "Reducing (faculty) benefits or forcing them to pay significantly more for benefits that were promised to them is likely to cause a significant migration of talented people out of this state," said the letter from the presidents. A spokeswoman for the legislator who came up with the plan said that "we encourage the university presidents and chancellors to tap into the talent at their universities and offer solutions, not just resistance."

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:36am

A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court last week seems likely to hurt the fight by some student newspapers in Virginia to keep running alcohol advertisements, the Associated Press reported. The newspapers are fighting state regulations banning such ads, arguing that that many of the papers' readers are in fact of legal drinking age. A federal judge considering the case asked the Virginia Supreme Court to consider the definition in the state of a college newspaper. The court ruled that newspapers can still be considered college publications, even if a majority of readers are 21 and older, if the primary intended audience is younger.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania State University, its football program and two senior administrators are facing a growing scandal over allegations of sex abuse by the former defensive coordinator of the team. On Sunday night, the university announced the resignations of two senior officials implicated for allegedly not reporting the sex abuse and charged with lying about what they knew.

Pennsylvania authorities have charged Gerald Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator,  with 40 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of young boys, including incidents that are said to have taken place on university grounds. Two other officials -- Tim Curley, the athletics director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business -- were charged with perjury (for allegedly lying about what they know about Sandusky) and for failing to report to authorities an incident that was reported to them. All three officials have denied wrongdoing.

A statement from Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said: "This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys. It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys."

On Saturday, Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, issued a statement that did not offer a view of the charges against Sandusky, but that strongly supported Curley and Schultz. "The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance," Spanier said. "With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former university employee. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately."

But on Sunday night, Penn State's board announced that Curley and Schultz would leave their positions to focus on defending themselves. Further, the board announced plans for an investigation into the university's policies and procedures for the protection of children. Steve Garban, chair of the board, released this statement: "The board, along with the entire Penn State family, is shocked and saddened by the allegations involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Under no circumstances does the university tolerate behavior that would put children at risk, and we are deeply troubled."

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A female student at Frostburg State University died early Sunday after she was stabbed in the head by another female student in an off-campus residence, authorities said, The Washington Post reported. It is rare for students to be murdered, and killings by one female student of another are particularly rare. But this is the second incident this academic year at a Maryland public university in which one female student has been charged with killing another.

 

Friday, November 4, 2011 - 4:31am

Stanford University's Graduate School of Business is today announcing the creation of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies with a $150 million gift from Dorothy and Robert King. The institute will seek to stimulate, develop, and disseminate research and innovations that enable entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to alleviate poverty in developing economies. The Kings have made a $100 million gift to fund the institute, and they will provide an additional $50 million in matching funds, with the goal of creating a $200 million fund for the new program.

Friday, November 4, 2011 - 3:00am

A new report is urging sted wordier "putting out a call to action to" dl higher education leaders not only to engage in preventing climate change but to prepare for and respond to its impact. The report, "Higher Education's Role in Adapting to a Changing Climate," compiled by the Higher Education Climate Adaptation Committee, states that many colleges and universities have taken some steps to mitigate this sentence is hard to scan ... can we say "have taken some steps to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions." dl climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But these institutions "have a critical role to play in preparing society to adapt to the impacts of climate disruption," the report states. The discussion must shift to include prevention and adaptation, the report states, and colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to push that change. The report recommends climate change-focused curriculum, research, risk management and community engagement. It points out that colleges have the opportunity to serve as "hubs" in their local communities for climate change adaptation strategies.

 

Friday, November 4, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee generated lots of headlines in September with a report finding that $1 billion in Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits were used last year by students who were attending eight for-profit institutions. Critics of for-profits seized on the report's findings, arguing that those colleges have been overly aggressive in recruiting members of the military. The $1 billion figure, however, was incorrect, the committee said today, and actually referred to two years' worth of G.I. Bill benefits.

The committee ran the data again, and distributed corrected numbers Thursday to the news media. The panel's statement said that its basic findings were unchanged: For-profit colleges still accounted for eight of the top 10 recipients of G.I. Bill benefits last year. But the updated findings concluded that the institutions received $626 million, a less attention-grabbing figure. In a written statement, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities called the original report a "reckless rush to judgment" that "unleashed an unwarranted tidal wave of negative publicity for our schools." The group mentioned corrections to a previous Government Accountability Office report that identified improper student recruiting practices at for-profits, and called for "fewer press conferences and more collaboration on higher education reform."

 

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