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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
The American Bar Association's House of Delegates has approved a resolution urging flexibility by the Law School Admission Council on requests for accommodations by people with disabilities when they take the Law School Admission Test. The resolution calls for information to be made available to test-takers on their options. Further, the resolution urges those involved in standardized testing not to differentiate between those who took the test with an accommodation and those who did not. While the resolution does not mention the council by name, the measure appears a clear reference to legal disputes the council has faced over requests from some test-takers for accommodations, and for those accommodations not to be "flagged" to law schools.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
China has seen a surge in private colleges in recent years, with hundreds of new institutions created in the last 15 years, The Washington Post reported. Many of the institutions are seen as second choices for those who can't win a spot at a public university, and they charge double the tuition of public institutions, but so many students want a higher education that these institutions continue to attract enrollments.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Friday rejected the University of Connecticut's request that the association waive a penalty that will ban the Huskies from the NCAA men's basketball championship in 2012-13 because of its players' past academic underperformance, the university announced. UConn officials, who said they would ask an NCAA appellate panel to review the decision by the association's Committee on Academic Performance to an appellate panel, had argued that it would be unfair to penalize next year's UConn players for the academic woes of players who have long since left the university. Connecticut proposed a set of alternative penalties, including forgoing revenues that its conference would have received from the university's participation in the tournament and restricting recruiting by its head coach, Jim Calhoun.