Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 1, 2010

Duke University and Mike Pressler, who was the lacrosse coach when false rape accusations were made against three team members, have settled a slander suit by Pressler, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Pressler's suit focused on comparisons the university made between him and his successor after he was forced out in 2006, amid the scandal over the allegations that (at that time) were widely treated as fact. No details were released about the settlement, except that Duke issued this statement: "Coach Michael Pressler is an excellent coach. He did a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program, while maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate in his 16 years. Duke University regrets any adverse consequences that the Newsday or AP article had on Coach Pressler or his family. Duke wishes nothing but the best for Coach Pressler in his future endeavors, especially at Bryant University and as he leads Team USA in the World Lacrosse Championships."

April 1, 2010

If you notice more Franklin & Marshall clothing in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, it doesn't reflect a booming alumni base from the Pennsylvania liberal arts college. Rather, the Associated Press reported, the clothing is produced by an Italian company whose sales are growing, and are based on the same tastes that sell Abercrombie & Fitch attire. The college signed a licensing deal with the company in 2003 for products distributed in the United States, but the college doesn't control the rights abroad. Still, the company recently donated $135,000 to the college for a scholarship.

March 31, 2010

Another new Apple product, another university-based Apple-product giveaway. Seton Hill University, in Pennsylvania, has announced that it will give each of its 2,000 new and returning students an Apple iPad and a 13-inch Macbook next fall. The high-end swag is part of a new initiative designed to “provide students with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools” in anticipation that tomorrow’s careers will require fluency in Web 2.0 and its accouterments. Seton Hill is not the first campus to give away Apple gadgets to students: Duke University in 2004 gave iPods to incoming students, and in fall 2008 Abilene Christian University began giving its incoming students iPhones and iPod Touches. Both of those projects -- particularly the latter -- involved a research agenda designed to learn more about how professors and students could use the devices to enhance learning, and Seton Hill says its experiment will be no exception. The giveaways at Duke and Abilene Christian have also been criticized as marketing ploys. A Seton Hill spokeswoman emphasized the educational opportunities the gadgets would create, but acknowledged that the giveaway -- which the university advertised with a full-page announcement, redirecting traffic from its home page -- would be “an incentive to current students as well as prospective students to attend Seton Hill University.”

March 31, 2010

The University of Wyoming has called off a planned lecture by William Ayers -- the one-time leader of the Weather Underground who has become an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The appearance was criticized by many in Wyoming, and the Social Justice Research Center cited a variety of reasons, including "safety concerns," for the decision. Other universities that have called off talks by Ayers have cited safety issues, but Wyoming's announcement was unusual in arguing that state reaction was a legitimate factor to consider.

A statement from Tom Buchanan, president of the university, said: "Academic freedom is a core principle of any institution of higher education. But with that freedom comes an obligation to exercise free thought and free speech in concert with mutual respect and acknowledgment of broader resource and security impacts on the campus. The exercise of freedom requires a commensurate dose of responsibility. Observers in and outside of the university would be incorrect to conclude that UW simply caved in to external pressure. Rather, I commended the director of the center for a willingness to be sensitive to the outpouring of criticism, evaluate the arguments, and reconsider the invitation. The University of Wyoming is one of the few institutions remaining in today's environment that garners the confidence of the public. The visit by Professor Ayers would have adversely impacted that reputation."

Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, said of the statement: "President Tom Buchanan's self-satisfied bromides do nothing to disguise the fact that the principle of free and open intellectual exchange has suffered a defeat at the University of Wyoming. As the AAUP has argued since 1915, it is precisely prevailing public opinion that must not shape what views get heard on campus."

March 31, 2010

The American Council on Education has named 46 new fellows. The council's fellowship program, which places faculty members or administrators for assignments with senior administrators at other institutions, is known for producing future generations of presidents and provosts. In the 45 years of the program, more than 300 fellows have gone on to serve as presidents, while hundreds of others have obtained other senior positions.

March 31, 2010

President Obama on Tuesday, in signing legislation to reform the student loan system and add billions to Pell Grants, also announced that the White House will hold a summit about community colleges this fall. The White House statement said that the event would "provide an opportunity for community college leaders, students, education experts, business leaders, and others to share innovative ways to educate our way to a better economy."

March 31, 2010

The Council of Graduate Schools is today releasing a new book, Ph.D. Completion and Attrition: Policies and Practices to Promote Student Success. The book is the latest in a series of studies and publications in the council's Ph.D. Completion Project.

March 31, 2010

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Committee on Infractions said on Tuesday that it had penalized Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Texas-Pan American for major violations in their sports programs. The cases were resolved through the NCAA's summary disposition process, in which the parties reach agreement on the findings and the penalties. The infractions panel required IUPUI to vacate victories in all of its 14 sports, after finding that the university had improperly certified the eligibility of 97 athletes over four academic years and failed to institute institutional control over its sports program. The committee placed Texas-Pan Am on two years' probation and imposed scholarship reductions after finding that men's basketball coaches made impermissible phone calls to 13 recruits.

March 31, 2010

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas has removed Eric Sandgren from his job as dean of the College of Engineering. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the university isn't saying why Sandgren -- who retains a faculty position -- was suddenly removed. But he has recently been critical of plans to cut programs in the college.

March 31, 2010

Copies of The Eagle, the student newspaper at American University, have been scattered from their distribution boxes, and signs reading "No Room for Rape Apologists" have been placed above the boxes, following a controversial column, Washington City Paper reported. The column criticized feminists and others at the university for being an "anti-sex brigade." The column said: " 'Date rape' is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex -- especially anonymous sex -- can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!" More than 200 comments, many of them sharply critical, have been posted on the newspaper's Web site. Editors of the Eagle, while not endorsing the column, first defended the decision to publish it. But they now plan to issue an apology.

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