Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 24, 2014

A head football coach at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls helped arrange more than $4,000 in scholarships over four years for five student assistant coaches based on their athletic ability, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday, citing the university for failure to monitor its scholarship program. The Division III institution faces one year of probation, a review by an NCAA financial aid committee, mandatory attendance at an NCAA rules seminar and an outside audit of the university's employment and scholarship policies.

April 24, 2014

Student leaders at the University of Utah have formally asked that the institution change parts of its fight song that are seen as racist and sexist, The Salt Lake Tribune. The song's name "Utah Man" is one point of contention. Others point to lines such as "Our coeds are the fairest." The university has yet to indicate whether it will make changes, but some alumni have demanded that the song -- beloved by many -- not change.

 

April 24, 2014

Police are exploring the possibility that a student angry about a grade could have ordered a "hit" on a Miami Dade College professor, The Miami Herald reported. Marc Magellan, a professor of music and humanities, was beaten in a parking lot on the college's Kendall campus last week by an unknown attacker. Mallegan says the assailant yelled "Professor Marc" before punching him in the face and smashing his head against the ground, leaving him with a broken nose and hand.

The professor says his assailant's words, along with the fact that none of his personal belongings were taken in the attack, means he was targeted, possibly by a student. "There is nobody I can think of who would have wanted to attack me so brutally unless there was some sort of grudge or chip on their shoulder," Magellan told the Herald. "In my business, yes, the only people who hold grudges are the ones who I've had to drop or fail. It comes with the territory I guess." A college spokesman said this kind of crime, especially in broad daylight, was unprecedented for the campus, and that on-campus security has been increased as a precaution.

April 24, 2014

New research from Johns Hopkins University offers another reason to go to college: Higher education is associated with better recovery from traumatic brain injuries.

 

April 24, 2014

Adjunct professors at Seattle University who hope to organize in affiliation with the Service Employees International Union got the green light from their local National Labor Relations Board. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise to adjuncts there, who said the decision was similar to the board’s regional office ruling last year in favor of adjuncts who wish to form an SEIU-affiliated union at Pacific Lutheran University. Ballots from that subsequent union election have been impounded, however, as the national labor board weighs the university’s challenge to the ruling – namely that its religious affiliation puts it outside board jurisdiction. Michael Ng, an adjunct professor of languages and literature at both institutions, said organizers expect Seattle University to pose a similar challenge to the local board’s decision that a union runs “no significant risk of constitutional infringement” on the institution, which “lacks substantial religious character.” A university spokeswoman referred questions about the decision to previous statements made by Isiaah Crawford, provost, expressing concern about NLRB infringement on its religious identity. The university has until May 1 to appeal the decision. The union would include about 356 non-tenure-track faculty. A union vote date has not yet been announced.

April 24, 2014

The American Council on Education on Wednesday named 31 faculty members and administrators as the next class of ACE Fellows. The program, which matches those with potential as administrators with successful presidents and others, is credited with launching many careers.  More than 300 fellows have gone on to become presidents, and another 1,300 have become provosts, vice presidents or deans. The new class may be found here.

 

April 24, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Connecticut, details the wide application of this chemical element and explains why its days of filling party balloons may be coming to an end. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 24, 2014

A report released this week by a Pennsylvania State University task force of faculty, administrators and staff who reviewed the controversial “Take Care of Your Health” wellness and health insurance program echoed what many employees said about the plan all along: that it violated employee privacy; that its design was not supported by health care research; and that the university was not forthcoming about the plan as a whole. Among other elements of the plan, which was proposed last summer, faculty objected to monthly surcharges for not completing certain physical exams and wellness screenings; covering family members eligible for health care through their own employers; and for tobacco use. Most all of the plan has since been tabled, except for the tobacco use surcharge.

The task force report says that “To implement a costly, intrusive and unpopular mandate that the academic literature suggests would not attain the stated goals, and to justify the mandate by reference to potentially self-serving vendor studies, did not engender confidence among some that the necessary level of due diligence had been performed.” It also criticizes the university for announcing the plan quietly in the middle of the summer, saying “many of the faculty and staff at Penn State expect more forthright behavior from their university," and validates privacy concerns employees raised about a required online health questionnaire.

While critical, the report says the university has a chance going forward to emerge as a leader in employer health care. “By taking a deliberate yet measured approach, and collaborating with the health and research expertise throughout the University, Penn State can provide significant benefits to society in this area,” it says.

 

April 24, 2014

The Community College of Baltimore County was sued in federal court this week by a student rejected for admission to a competitive radiation therapy program, he says, because of his religious views, The Baltimore Sun reported. According to the suit (available online here), he was rejected because of his answer to an interview question about what was most important to him. His answer was "My God." The suit includes text of an email from the program director, responding to the student's request for details about why he was rejected. The director said (according to the suit): "I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion. We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process." The suit maintains that he met or exceeded the program's requirements.

College officials did not respond to requests for comment, citing a policy not to do so about pending litigation. But in court filings they have questioned whether the student was sufficiently "motivated by an individual passion in the field." Further, they said that because the student has a criminal record, he would have difficulty getting a job in the field in Maryland.

 

April 24, 2014

Students at two dozen high schools that use the company K12 Inc. to provide their curriculum will no longer be allowed to count their coursework toward initial-eligibility certification, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said. The schools’ nontraditional courses did not comply with NCAA requirements for athletic eligibility, AthleticsScholarships.net reported. For students who complete coursework between spring 2013 and spring 2014, eligibility will be “subject to further review on a case-by-case basis, which will require additional academic documentation,” the NCAA said. Same goes for an additional number of K12-affiliated schools that are under “extended evaluation.”

K12’s senior vice president of corporate communications, Jeff Kwitowski, said that the NCAA has “vague standards and [an] unclear review process” that leaves schools to “guess” what counts toward eligibility.

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