Higher Education Quick Takes
In the United States, many lament that it takes students too long to graduate. In Germany, the School of Economics and Management in Essen is suing Marcel Pohl, for $3,772 that the institution lost in tuition revenue when he finished a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in 3 semesters, not the 11 that would have been expected, UPI reported. The university declined to comment. Pohl said, "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true. Performance is supposed to be worth something."
Syracuse University on Thursday released the results of an independent investigation into how the institution responded to 2005 allegations that Bernie Fine, then an assistant basketball coach, had sexually abused a boy from around the time the child was 12 -- and the new report faulted some aspects of the university's 2005 response. That year as well, the university sought outside legal help, and that inquiry found that the allegations could not be substantiated.
The report released Thursday did not dispute that finding. But it raised questions about Syracuse's handling of the incident. The university's summary of the new report says that it "concludes that when viewed in hindsight, the process was imperfect, and some of the judgments made could have been better. Among other things, the report notes that the university should have made direct contact with law enforcement; that the university’s counsel should have alerted the chancellor to allegations that student athletes may have had sexual encounters with Laurie Fine, Bernie Fine’s wife; and that the Board of Trustees (or some components thereof) should have been informed of the allegations."
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has placed Kean University on probation, citing questions about whether the university is adequately measuring student learning, and whether there is an atmosphere that promotes respect among students, faculty members and administrators, The Star-Ledger reported. Dawood Farahi, the president, and Ada Morell, the board president, issued a statement blasting the accreditor, accusing it of carrying out a "staff-driven agenda" designed to hurt the university's reputation.
The World Bank has barred business transactions with two African subsidiaries of Oxford University Press, saying that these units engaged in corruption by providing inappropriate payments to government officials in Kenya and Tanzania, the BBC reported. Oxford University Press said that it is disciplining the employees involved.
The University of Illinois announced Tuesday that it will pay $175,000 to Lisa Troyer to give up her tenured position in the psychology department at the Urbana-Champaign campus. A brief statement said that the university "has not initiated, and will not initiate, any disciplinary process." Troyer moved to the faculty position after quitting as chief of staff to Michael Hogan, who had a brief and controversial tenure as president of the university system. Faculty members believed that she was sending anonymous messages to faculty discussion groups, urging professors to take positions backing Hogan. An outside investigation by the university found that the messages came from Troyer's laptop at a time that she had possession of the laptop, and that there was no evidence of hacking. Troyer's lawyer sent reporters an e-mail Tuesday quoting her as saying: "I have always stated that I never sent any anonymous emails, and the investigation report never concluded that I did."
Feniosky Peña-Mora, dean of Columbia University's engineering college, has resigned amid widespread faculty criticism of his performance, The New York Times reported. Peña-Mora pushed to expand the engineering college, but faced a revolt from professors who said he wasn't paying enough attention to preserving the quality of existing programs or of keeping commitments he made to them. Some minority leaders have said that the criticism is racially based (Peña-Mora was born in the Dominican Republic), and Al Sharpton is planning a rally for him in September. Two other high ranking minority administrators have left their positions at Columbia in recent years, but university officials have said that the departures are unrelated.
In today’s Academic Minute, Kurt Rotthoff of Seton Hall University tests claims about the economic benefit of investing in large sports arenas and stadiums. Learn more about the Academic Minute here. And since you may have missed yesterday's podcast, in which Colby College's David Freidenreich examines the historical meaning of dietary restrictions within the world's major monotheistic religions, here's a link.
A government committee in Israel on Wednesday blocked university status for the Ariel University Center, an Israeli academic institution located in the West Bank, Haaretz reported. The panel said that the center should maintain its current status, which is short of a full university, pending a full review in the next year. Many Israeli academics had expected university status to be awarded, and Ariel is strongly supported by Israelis who favor settlement in the West Bank. But Israeli academics -- professors and presidents alike -- strongly opposed university status. The presidents of existing universities argued that the country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities, and shouldn't create a new one. Many professors also said that making Ariel into a university would inject higher education into the debate about the future of Palestinian territories in a way that would be unhelpful for the peace process and for higher education.
Pedro Segarra, the mayor of Hartford, is criticizing the way people responded to a March assault on a Trinity College student, saying that many students and others inappropriately assumed that the attackers must be residents of a low-income neighborhood near the college, the Associated Press reported. The student who was attacked and others with him said at the time that the attackers were "Spanish," hundreds of students attended a rally demanding better security, and college officials said that the assailants were not students. But the police are now investigating the possibility that the student was assaulted by Trinity students. "People should not make presuppositions before they have facts available to them to be able to draw a conclusion," Segarra said in an interview. "All people, whether it's the campus administration or whether it's the city, whether it's the community, people need to be more astute, not quick to pass judgment."