Higher Education Quick Takes
In a rare infractions case involving a Division III non-revenue sport, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Thursday that it has cited Occidental College for failing to monitor its women’s volleyball program, after a former head coach provided impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits, including travel on a booster’s private plane, rental cars, other travel and lodging. The coach also gave apparel to prospects and allowed recruits to travel with the volleyball team and sit on the bench, the public infractions report noted, in conflict with NCAA rules.
Additionally, the report notes, the former head football coach contacted 467 current football players to ask them to transfer to Occidental.
Occidental now faces several penalties, including the following: public reprimand and censure; two years’ probation; a two-year show cause order for the head volleyball coach, meaning any program that wants to hire him must seek approval from the NCAA; a 2013 postseason ban for the women’s volleyball team; vacation of all volleyball records from 2009-11, the years during which the transgressions occurred (self-imposed by the university); and prohibition from all off-campus recruiting for the volleyball team and for the football coach at his current university. In addition, the volleyball program played fewer tournaments and games in 2011-12, punishments that were also self-imposed.
Holy Family University eliminated 25 non-faculty positions last month, roughly 5 percent of its work force, Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The Philadelphia-area Roman Catholic institution has seen its enrollment dip from 3,224 to 3,094 in the last two years, its officials told the newspaper, saying that the layoffs would result in a shift of resources to "certain areas to enable us to continue to grow and prosper, one administrator said.
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, has announced that he will not donate his papers to an institute named for him at Iowa State, The Des Moines Register reported. That institute may now change its name and focus, and money donated to it may be returned. The dispute centers on what Harkin and some see as limits on academic freedom. Agriculture research supported by the institute must be done in collaboration with other institutes at Iowa State. While university officials say that requirement is innocuous, others see it limiting academic freedom by preventing solo work by those affiliated with the institute.
About 200 students rallied at Duke University Wednesday to protest a recent Kappa Sigma fraternity party with an anti-Asian theme, The News & Observer reported. The invitations mocked Asian accents, and photographs of the event -- posted to Facebook -- featured white students dressed in faux Asian attire and with chopsticks in their hair.
The University of Miami's baseball program appears to be at the epicenter of a burgeoning controversy involving an anti-aging clinic suspected of being a hub for performance-enhancing drugs for Major League Baseball players, The New York Times reported. Several high-profile players have been identified as having ties to the clinic, and several of them -- including Alex Rodriguez, after whom Miami's baseball stadium is named, and Ryan Braun, who played at Miami before beginning his pro career -- have close ties to the university. Miami officials told the Times in a statement that the university was "aware of media reports regarding one of our employees, and an intensive review is under way.”
The pass rate for students who took the new, computer-based version of the GED last year was 88 percent, outpacing the 71 percent pass rate of those who who took the paper-based version, the GED Testing Service said. They also spent 1.5 hours less taking the test, which is a high-school degree equivalency exam. The service plans to launch a fully computer-based, redesigned version of the exam next year.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday defended the decision by Brooklyn College to let a group hold an event to encourage support for the boycott of Israel, The New York Times reported. The event has prompted calls from some politicians to cut funds for the college, part of the City University of New York. At a press conference, Bloomberg said that he strongly disagrees with the calls to boycott Israel, but added that a university should be able to have events on any topic, "including ideas that people find repugnant." To those who disagree, he offered these words: "If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea."
Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation and a former engineering dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the new president of Carnegie Mellon University. President Obama appointed Suresh as NSF in 2010, and he has been on leave as the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at MIT since then. In 20 years at MIT, he was a chair and professor of materials science and engineering as well as engineering dean. On July 1, he will be Carnegie Mellon's ninth president, succeeding Jared L. Cohon after 16 years in office.
Mandatory cuts to domestic and defense spending are scheduled to take place March 1, but President Obama called on Congress to postpone the cuts Tuesday with a "smaller package of tax cuts and spending changes." The large-scale mandatory cuts, known as sequestration, were originally scheduled to take effect at the beginning of this year, but were postponed as part of the year-end tax deal.
Obama did not specify what types of cuts he'd like to see. Several higher education programs (although not the Pell Grant) would see cuts of 5.1 percent should the across-the-board spending adjustments take effect, and colleges report that federal research funding has already slowed as a result.