Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 27, 2013

Former State University of New York at Stony Brook athletics director Jim Fiore, who was fired Nov. 19, had faced complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation, misappropriation of university resources, and interrogation of athletes and staff about their sexuality, ESPN reported. The university’s Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action knew for years of Fiore’s misconduct but did not act, according to documents. Fiore had 31 months left on his contract, and Stony Brook will pay the remaining $800,000 he would have earned.

November 26, 2013

A former administrative employee admitted in federal court Monday that she stole more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges, The Washington Post reported. The woman was fired when the graft was discovered. Authorities said that she created bank accounts with names similar to those of groups with which the AAMC does business. She then created fake invoices for those entities, paid the funds to the accounts and had access to the money.


November 26, 2013

Mohammed Qayoumi, president of San Jose State University, has issued several statements in the last week denouncing the alleged harassment by white students of a black freshman who shared a dormitory suite with them. But on Monday, Qayoumi issued a new statement in which he took personal responsibility in saying that he and the university had failed to stop the harassment that is alleged to have gone on for months. "By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him. I failed him," said the statement. "How such abuse could have gone unchecked or undetected for weeks is being methodically untangled, as it must. An independent expert will soon be named to lead a task force that will examine the facts, our policies and practices, and propose reforms. Some anger is being directed toward residence hall advisers (RAs) for failing to recognize or act on warning signs of abuse. It is our job as professional educators to help them recognize these signs. Their failures are our failures. We must do a better job of training them, and we will."

November 26, 2013

A four-hour Yale University lockdown that included a room-to-room residence hall search by police and SWAT teams ended safely Monday. Yale officials first told students there may be a threat to safety via text message at 10:17 a.m. after an anonymous male caller said his roommate was heading to campus with a gun and intent to shoot, police said. About a half-hour later, after callers reported seeing a gunman on campus, the lockdown began and students were told to shelter in place. A few minutes before 5 p.m., Yale reported via text message and Twitter that the lockdown had been fully lifted. By the end of the day, New Haven police were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the initial report, according to the Hartford Courant, saying the caller sounded "confused" and they were reviewing security footage to determine whether witnesses who corroborated the report might have spotted armed police rather than a gunman.

November 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ayalla Ruvio of Michigan State University explains the relationship between stress and compulsive shopping. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 26, 2013

The president of 2,700-student Sul Ross State University resigned, the Texas State University System announced Monday.

Ricardo Maestas had been president of Sul Ross since 2009 and has been reassigned as a special assistant to the system chancellor. No reason was given by the system for his resignation. Quint Thurman, the provost at Sul Ross, will be interim president while the system begins an immediate search for a new president.

The Texas Tribune reported that “parents and community members have continued to raise concerns about Maestas' leadership, particularly his lack of responsiveness to questions about the treatment of student athletes and financial management within the athletic department.” Last week, the news organization said, Maestas let go of the football coaching staff.

Sul Ross has a main campus in Alpine, a town in West Texas, and three satellite campuses collectively known as Rio Grande College.

November 26, 2013

A prominent black superior court judge has filed a complaint saying two University of California at Los Angeles police officers used excessive force after pulling him over for not wearing a seat belt, and that his race was a factor, The Los Angeles Times reported. David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, says in the complaint that when he exited the car to retrieve his paperwork from the trunk, officers shoved him against his car, handcuffed him, threw him into their backseat and told him he was being detained for resisting arrest. A UCLA police sergeant released Cunningham about 10 minutes later. The judge wants the officers removed from the field over the incident; UCLA said it is investigating the incident.

November 26, 2013

Law students at the University of Sydney are complaining that their dean was insulting when they complained that a disputed final examination would not be given a second time, ABC (the Australian company) reported. A fire alarm went off during the exam and students were evacuated, but then the exam resumed. Some students want a completely new exam and the dean has rejected that option as unfair to those who came prepared for the day the exam was scheduled. But students are now upset that the dean wrote a letter to the editor of the student paper suggesting that they needed to drop the issue. "Law students can be an anxious and competitive lot," wrote the dean, Joellen Riley. "They do worry dreadfully about exam marks.  A couple of years post-graduation and they will learn that the marks in any one exam are soon forgotten, and many skills other than mark-harvesting are more important to success in the profession (and in life)."


November 25, 2013

Students at three colleges in the last week have faced criticism over ethnic or racial themes or costumes at parties:

  • Randolph-Macon College officials are investigating a fraternity party at which some students dressed either as "illegal immigrants" or "border control agents," and at which the latter group tried to "catch" the former, WWBT NBC 12 reported. Mark Heideman, a member of Kappa Alpha, which hosted the party, said that "it was definitely not meant to be racist whatsoever."
  • Two white students at Lee University have apologized for going to a rap-themed party in blackface and with T-shirts featuring forms of the n-word, WTVC News 9 reported.
  • California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo is investigating an off-campus party held by a fraternity and a sorority with the theme "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos," The Tribune News of San Luis Obispo reported. The men dressed in colonial attire while the women wore scantily clad costumes with Native American themes. One fraternity member (whose house was not involved) told the Tribune News that the party wasn't meant to be offensive. “Personally, I don’t think it was meant to be racist,” he said, given that many Greek parties involve "guy-and-girl" themes. “It’s unfair,” he said. “We are taught that Thanksgiving is Pilgrims and Indians.”
November 25, 2013

With Friday's announcement that it had raised another $20 million in venture capital funding, the massive open online course provider Coursera's Series B round has reached $63 million in total. The company pegged that number at $43 million as recently as July. GSV Capital, Learn Capital and three universities that produce Coursera courses supplied the additional funding. The $20 million will be invested in "ongoing technological developments, strategic partnerships and the build-out of Coursera's product and recruiting teams," according to a news release.


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