Higher Education Quick Takes
Etowah High School recently announced that its valedictorian would be Kelly McCahill -- and that is controversial because she has never enrolled at the high school. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, she is a dual-enrollment student, earning high school credit through her studies at the University of West Georgia. Many of the high school's students are upset about the way things turned out, but the school's rules say that grade-point averages of dual-enrollment courses should be counted. Beheruz N. Sethna, the president at West Georgia, is speaking out in McCahill's defense. "In this case, we have firsthand knowledge of how hard-working and deserving Kelly is to receive this honor," he said.
Villanova University's Law School "knowingly" gave false information about the LSAT scores and grade-point averages of entering students to the American Bar Association, the dean admitted in a letter sent to alumni late last week. The letter was published on the blog Above the Law. The dean, John Y. Gotanda, said that the practice was uncovered during a study by a law school committee to assess the effectiveness of various academic programs at the law school. Villanova then conducted its own review and obtained an outside audit to determine the extent of the problem. The data reported are those used by U.S. News & World Report and others to rank law schools.
To save about $22,000 a year on tuition, some out-of-state students at the University of California at Berkeley are marrying state residents, The Bay Citizen (a nonprofit journalism entity whose work appears in The New York Times) reported. While most such couples won't speak publicly about their marriages, the Bay Citizen said that it identified nine such couples.
The Orange County District Attorney on Friday charged 11 men affiliated with the Muslim Student Union at the University of California at Irvine with two misdemeanor counts each: one count of conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and one count of disturbing a meeting. If convicted, the students could face up to six months in jail. The charges stem from an incident a year ago in which members of the student group repeatedly interrupted a talk at Irvine by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States. Leaders of the Muslim student group have denied that they did anything wrong, and some at Irvine who criticized the heckling have said that this is a matter that should be adjudicated by the university (which has already done so). District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, however, said in announcing the charges: "This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI. These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution."
Purdue University officials told their board Friday that they have uncovered two cases in which tenured faculty members committed financial fraud, The Lafayette Journal and Courier reported. Officials said that "corrective measures" have been taken, but declined to elaborate on them or to identify the professors involved.
Apple may be developing a stylus pen to go with the iPad in an effort to appeal to students, The New York Times reported. According to the blog Patently Apple, the company filed a patent in 2008 for a special stylus that works with its touchscreen devices. The Times quoted an anonymous source at Apple who said a stylus could increase the utility of the iPad in education. “It’s one of the barriers for school kids and college students to purchase an iPad where they want the ability to take notes by hand and draw in class,” the Times quoted the source as saying. A number of students and professors have noted as much to Inside Higher Ed. A second version of the iPad is expected to be unveiled this spring.
A former assistant coach for the University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team asked a booster to complete a written assignment and final exam paper for a player with a low grade-point average, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report released Friday. In addition, the former assistant coach, whom the report did not name, bought an airline ticket for another recruit. The report notes that Rick Herdes, the team's former head coach, failed to monitor the behavior of the assistant coach and knew of his rules violations. Southern Indiana must serve a one-year probation, vacate all wins in which the two players involved in the violations participated, and disassociate itself from the booster in question. Herdes and the assistant coach garnered two- and three-year show-cause penalties, respectively. As a result, institutions that hire them must inform the NCAA how they plan to monitor their behavior.
Many colleges and universities rely on their Greek organizations' leadership groups to help prevent hazing. But at the University of Kansas, officials recently found that the Interfraternity Council itself has been engaged in hazing, with members paddling one another as part of leadership transition ceremonies, The Kansas City Star reported. The university is planning sanctions, which have yet to be determined, against the council.
A team of researchers at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education captured considerable attention last week with a new report questioning whether the United States has placed too much of an emphasis on an (unsuccessful) effort to prepare all students for college, when a more vocationally oriented "realistic" approach might yield greater results. On Saturday, Gary Rhoades, the general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, released a statement denouncing the report as based on "a narrowed set of largely class-based educational paths that will reduce rather than expand educational opportunity." Rhoades writes that the vision of the Harvard report is too much like the traditional European approach to education, when the United States has historically had different values. "Part of that commitment is to provide people with multiple opportunities to pursue higher education, not to have their educational and occupational futures determined at the age of 12 or 13. Predetermining a student’s future makes no sense in a world in which occupational paths regularly include numerous career changes," Rhoades writes.
Dov Borovsky, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, was arrested last week on felony charges of grand theft and fraud based on his expense reimbursement claims, The Gainesville Sun reported. According to authorities, Borovsky took three trips to Malaysia as a consultant to a company based there, was reimbursed by the company for the travel, but also submitted expense forms to the university for travel reimbursement. Borovsky, whom the university has placed on leave, could not be reached for comment.