Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 3:00am

If the National Collegiate Athletic Association shared revenue with players the same way professional leagues do, the typical football and men's basketball players from Bowl Championship Series conferences would earn an average of more than $714,000 and $1.5 million, respectively, beyond their full scholarships over the four years between 2011-15.

And players on the top-10 revenue-generating basketball teams would earn another $3.5 million during that time, according to the new study from the National College Players Association and Ellen Staurowsky, a sport management professor at Drexel University.

The study found that while the average full scholarship for Football Bowl Series conference players is worth $23,000, football and men's basketball players have a "fair market value" of $137,000 and $289,000, respectively. It also found that the average full FBS scholarship fell an average $3,285 short of the full cost of attending college during the 2011-12 academic year.

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Howard Lasker of the State University of New York at Buffalo explores how coral reefs respond to natural and man-made damage. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities that offer online classes across state borders have a long way to go before they comply with state authorization laws, though they are doing more, according to a survey of about 200 institutions with distance learning programs.

About a third of distance learning operations have not applied for any authorization to operate, though on average they serve students in more than 30 states or territories. Still, compliance efforts are up from 2011, when two-thirds of institutions had not sought any authorization.

Some institutions are deciding not to apply for authorization in certain states because of compliance efforts, confusion or cost. "As institutions have gained a greater understanding of the laws and regulations of each state, more have opted to bypass those states that they perceive as being  too costly or the approval processes too cumbersome, for the number of students they enroll in certain states," said Bruce Chaloux, executive director and chief executive officer of the Sloan Consortium, which helped put together the survey. 

About a third of the institutions don't bother to notify students about state authorization issues. Because of that, the report said "students may, unwittingly, get caught in the middle."

The federal government had once tried to require distance education providers to get authorization from each state they have at least one student in, but the government dropped that requirement and now institutions are bound, in theory, only by state regulations. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Lawyers for Aaron Swartz's estate last week filed a motion to have the court that would have tried him release all the documents in the controversial case involving the crusader for public access to information. Many of those documents relate to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has been criticized by Swartz supporters for not trying to have the charges against him dismissed. On Tuesday, MIT President L. Rafael Reif released a statement indicating that MIT will release the documents, but with names redacted and only at the time that MIT finishes its review of the way it handled the case.

Reif explained his decision this way: "At MIT, we believe in openness, and we are not afraid to reexamine our own actions; indeed, it was with those values in mind that I asked Professor Hal Abelson to undertake his analysis following Aaron Swartz’s tragic suicide. But I believe that openness must be balanced with reasonable concern for privacy and safety. That is especially true in this situation. In the time since Aaron Swartz’s suicide, we have seen a pattern of harassment and personal threats. In this volatile atmosphere, I have the responsibility to protect the privacy and safety of those members of our community who have become involved in this matter in the course of doing their jobs for MIT, and to ensure a safe environment for all of us who call MIT home."


Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education on Tuesday named 50 faculty members and administrators to its Fellows Program. The program, in which participants work with executives at other colleges from those that employ them, is known as a stepping stone to top positions in higher education -- more than 300 fellows have gone on to presidencies. The new fellows may be found here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 4:22am

A prominent professor at Columbia University's journalism school has sued the institution, charging it with misusing an endowment fund, The New York Times reported. Sylvia Nasar, co-director of the business journalism program and author of A Beautiful Mind, charges that Columbia was supposed to match a $1.5 million gift for an endowed chair Nasar holds, so that Nasar or others holding the chair would have funds both for salary and research. Instead, the suit charges, Columbia didn't match the funds and Nasar had to pay for many of her research expenses. Columbia has declined to comment on the suit, saying it does not discuss litigation.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 4:29am

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling that Oklahoma State University isn't entitled to refunds from a controversial insurance-based fund-raising campaign that didn't work out as planned, The Stillwater NewsPress reported. The idea was to take out life insurance policies on wealthy supporters of the university's athletics program, with the athletics program as the beneficiary. When the supporters didn't die on roughly the expected timetable, however, the university canceled the policies and sued the insurance company, saying it hadn't provided accurate information. But a district court judge and now the U.S. Court of Appeals found no evidence of fraud by the insurance company.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Students at Oxford University are protesting administrators' decision to dismiss a librarian because she let a group of students produce a Harlem Shake video in the library of St. Hilda's College, The Independent of London reported. The student librarian, Calypso Nash, reportedly lost her job even though she was not involved in filming the video, which was recorded in seven minutes at 11:30 p.m. to minimize disruption, according to the newspaper. Many of the student participants were fined for their roles, too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Sarah Benson-Amram of the University of St. Andrews compares the intelligence of wild animals to those socialized to human contact. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 3:00am

A Washington think tank that focuses on the impact of government policy decisions on low-income students issued a report Tuesday aimed at documenting the extent of state budget cuts for higher education and arguing that they are hurting students and state economies. The report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities largely mirrored the findings of recent studies by the State Higher Education Executive Officers and others.


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