Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 4:36am

Pennsylvania State University on Monday published online details of $3.2 million in expenses related to the allegations that Jerry Sandusky -- formerly an assistant football coach -- sexually abused children, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bills include legal fees, charges for an independent outside investigation and public relations work. Insurance will cover only a small part of the expenses, but Penn State officials said that the other bills would not be paid with state funds or tuition.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members lack a professional identity and a sense of self-worth, according to a new paper in the journal American Behavioral Scientist. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 18 full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members in English departments. “Right now, they have become like serfs – a labor force for tenure-track faculty,” said John S. Levin, who is the Bank of America Professor of Education Leadership at the University of California at Riverside. “That needs to change. Institutions need to take responsibility for these employees.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

McGill University, following a five-day sit-in in an administration building, announced new rules on where protests would and would not be tolerated, Maclean's reported. In the future, the administration announced, "occupations of private offices or spaces, classrooms, laboratories or libraries, or other restricted areas will not be tolerated. If any type of occupation occurs and the occupiers refuse to leave when requested to do so, civil authorities will be called." In the case of the most recent protest, the university waited five days to do that, but opted for steadily escalating pressure, including blocking wireless Internet and -- toward the end of the protest -- blocking access to the bathrooms.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge in Connecticut has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Yale University by Dongguk University, in South Korea, the Associated Press reported. Dongguk says that it suffered huge losses from a scandal that can be traced to Yale incorrectly confirming that a professor there had earned a doctorate at Yale. The South Korean university says that it lost millions in government grants and donations because of the scandal when the professor was said to have had a love affair with an aide to South Korea's president. Yale has denied wrongdoing in the case.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The presidents of 16 universities in what are now Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference announced Monday that they plan to create one league that would span 6,000 miles, include as many as two dozen sports programs, and be "built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship," they said. The presidents and chancellors met secretly in Dallas on Sunday and agreed to a plan not to stabilize their current conferences (which have been the targets of raids by several other leagues in recent months) but to create a merged league (beginning in 2013-14) that the presidents believe can go toe to toe with the other major sports conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The involved universities are Colorado State, East Carolina University, Fresno State, Marshall, Rice, and Tulane Universities; the U.S. Air Force Academy; and the Universities of Alabama at Birmingham, Hawai'i, Nevada at Las Vegas and Nevada at Reno, New Mexico, Southern Mississippi, Texas at El Paso, Tulsa and Wyoming.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The Association of Title IX Administrators, a group of officials charged with ensuring gender equity on campuses, issued a declaration of support Monday for the Office for Civil Rights’ controversial “dear colleague” letter that reiterated institutional responsibilities in responding to and preventing sexual assault. The declaration was co-authored by the Women's Sports Foundation.

The letter has drawn negative responses from general counsels and free speech groups, particularly for its clarification that, when considering complaints of harassment and assault, institutions need only apply a preponderance of evidence standard – meaning it’s “more likely than not” that the complaint has merit. While critics have worried the standard might lead a college’s judicial body to issue unwarranted punishments, the association called the standard “the only equitable choice under Title IX as it avoids the presumption, inherent in a higher standard of proof, that the word of a victim is less weighty than the word of an accused individual’s denial.”

The administrators praised the letter’s emphasis on equitable treatment for victims and accused students. Both parties are entitled to certain privileges – a campus advocate for the victim, for instance, or fair notice of the charges for the accused – that colleges have at times been criticized for violating.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bard Ermentrout of the University of Pittsburgh explains what the colorful patterns on a seashell can reveal about the evolutionary history of the creature that created it. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 4:41am

Colby College has punished 15 students -- including 12 who were suspended for a semester or more -- for a sexual misconduct incident in November, The Boston Globe reported. The college has not revealed details of the incident, citing confidentiality requirements. But students have been focused on the incident since it took place, and there have been several widely attended campus meetings about sexual harassment since the incident took place. The charges against the students include sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, lying to college officials and conspiring to obstruct an investigation.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Canton will be closed this week as a result of a fire Friday in a chemistry building. There were no injuries in the fire, but because of chemicals in the building, the university is working with authorities to be sure that there are no dangers on campus due to the chemicals that were in the building.

 

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 4:46am

The Alabama Board of Education is divided over the performance of Freida Hill as chancellor of the state's two-year college system, with four of the nine members giving her low marks in numerous areas as part of a recent evaluation, The Birmingham News reported. Three board members gave her high marks, and two others mixed marks. The criticisms were wide ranging, including a lack of communication with the board, poor relations with the state's K-12 system and poor morale in the system. Hill's defenders said that disgruntled college presidents have encouraged the criticisms. Hill is the sixth person to lead the system since a corruption scandal in 2006.

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