Higher Education Quick Takes
An article in The Irish Times explores the reasons why experts periodically propose (as happened last week in a government-requested report) that Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin be merged, and why just about everyone associated with the two institutions hates the idea. The idea of a merger is that a combined institution would be stronger (especially in international rankings). Historically, religion and class might have divided the two institutions, since Trinity was founded for the Protestant elite under English royal rule, UCD was founded by Roman Catholics to serve those excluded from Trinity. Today such ethnic divides are less evident, although the universities prefer to be rivals who sometimes cooperate than to shed their institutional identities, the article said.
Governor Jerry Brown has signed into California law a measure that will require universities that receive more than $10 million in media revenue related to athletics to cover insurance deductibles and pay health care premiums for low-income athletics, and to give academic scholarships to students who lose their athletic scholarships after becoming injured while playing their sport, the Associated Press reported. The legislation also requires universities to pay future medical costs for on-the-field injuries. The four universities covered by the law are Stanford University, and the Universities of California at Berkeley, California at Los Angeles and Southern California. San Diego State University may eventually cross the $10 million threshold and become covered as well. Stanford objected to the bill, saying that it was unfair to only impose the requirements on some colleges and universities.
WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan will stay for a second term if President Obama is re-elected -- "unless the president gets sick of me," he told National Journal Thursday. According to the political publication, Duncan made his statement after a K-12 event here, and signaled that he would focus (as President Obama has in speeches and on the campaign trail this year) on trying to drive down college tuitions. “We need to crack the nut on higher education," Duncan said Thursday, according to National Journal. "Middle-class families think college is not for them.”
Texas Southern University has suspended its marching band, pending an investigation of a report about hazing by one section of the band, the Associated Press reported. The band did not perform Thursday at a football game between Texas Southern and Sam Houston State University.
Carleen Basler, an assistant professor of American studies and sociology at Amherst College, resigned last week after senior faculty members discovered that she had plagiarized some of her scholarly work. The plagiarism was found as Basler was being evaluated for tenure, officials said. “She accepted responsibility and decided to resign,” said Gregory Call, the dean of faculty at Amherst and a mathematics professor. Biddy Martin, president of the college, said that Basler had worked at Amherst since 2003. When asked about the extent of plagiarism, Martin said it was "extensive." An automatic reply to an e-mail sent to Basler’s college e-mail account said: “Carleen Basler is no longer with Amherst College.” Basler did not reply by deadline to an e-mail sent to her private address.
John R. Silber, whose 25-year reign atop Boston University remade the institution in ways that enthralled supporters and often enraged critics, died Thursday, the university announced. Silber came to B.U. in 1971 after a career as a philosopher and dean at the University of Texas at Austin; his deanship there ended in dismissal when he battled regents over a plan to split up the College of Arts and Sciences. At Boston, he was expansionistic and at times imperialistic, greatly strengthening the quality of the university's faculty and its financial standing while simultaneously doing battle with his many critics, who took offense at his unguarded style of speaking and his pay, unmatched by other presidents' at the time.
Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed legislation Thursday designed to give college students free digital access to textbooks in 50 popular lower-division courses offered by the state's public universities and colleges, and another bill Wednesday that requires significantly greater reporting of information by for-profit colleges in the state. The textbook legislation will, according to the Los Angeles Times, also make print copies of the key textbooks available for no more than $20.
Holden Thorp, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that in his last year in the position, major reforms will be announced for athletics at the institution, placing "academics first," The News & Observer reported. Thorp, after facing numerous scandals involving athletic programs, recently announced plans to step down. And he told the newspaper that one reason he did so was that the changes ahead would be so difficult. He said that admissions standards for athletes would be toughened, and that the number of exceptions to admissions standards would be reduced. In the last five years, 53 football players at UNC have been admitted under such exceptions.