Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 21, 2011 - 4:28am

The Utah Board of Regents on Friday voted to require all public colleges to have systems in place for period post-tenure reviews of faculty members, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The new policy responds to complaints from some legislators who have sought to ban tenure.

 

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Among new developments and articles of note on the Pennsylvania State University scandal:

  • Rodney Erickson, who was named interim president last week when Graham Spanier stepped down, is no longer interim. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the board has removed the word "interim" from his title, and no longer plans to conduct a national search for a replacement for Spanier. A spokeswoman said: "Under normal circumstances a national search would be conducted over a period of a year or more, with the help of an executive search committee. Under our current situation, which is obviously unprecedented, the board has taken the action to name the president who they believe will lead us forward."
  • Michael Bérubé, the Paterno Family Professor in Literature and director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about Joe Paterno's contributions to academic advances at the university (including creation of the chair Bérubé holds) and the need for a greater faculty role in decision-making such that "shared governance" becomes meaningful at the institution.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association told Penn State officials last week that it would investigate whether the sex abuse scandal indicates a failure by the university to exercise "institutional control" over the sports program. While allegations of sexual abuse of children might seem outside the NCAA's normal purview of academic dishonesty and improper payments to players, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, noted in a letter to Erickson that the NCAA's rulebook contains a broad prohibition against unethical conduct, and cited a specific provision that campus officials must do more than just "avoid improper conduct or questionable acts." They have an "affirmative" obligation, too, the rulebook states; "[t]heir own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example."
Monday, November 21, 2011 - 3:00am

At least seven additional people are expected to turn themselves in in a Long Island scandal in which some people are accused of paying others to take the SAT or ACT for them, The New York Times reported. An additional round of arrests in September sparked considerable debate about the adequacy of test-taking security.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Missouri is considering a policy under which students at the system's campuses would be required to obtain written permission from professors before taping their classes, the Associated Press reported. The possible rules follow incidents in the spring in which a conservative blogger posted selected excerpts of two faculty members' lectures in a labor program -- and said that those excerpts showed that the instructors were condoning or encouraging violence as a union tactic. (The instructors said that their comments were taken out of context.) Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs for the Missouri system, said the proposed policy "protects the sanctity of the classroom for our students so they can freely discuss their thoughts and opinions."

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 4:41am

Student leaders in Colombia have called off a month-long boycott of classes, the Associated Press reported. The students agreed to end their protest after the government agreed to withdraw an education reform plan. The government said that the plan was designed to provide public universities with more autonomy, but the students said it was designed to privatize public higher education.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University explains how the colors and materials used by urban planners can reduce the higher temperatures associated with global climate change. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
 

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at two campuses of the California State University System -- Dominguez Hills and East Bay -- held one-day strikes on Thursday, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The faculty members are frustrated by slow progress in contract talks and by continued cuts to the university system's budget. University administrators say that they sympathize but lack the funds to meet the faculty members' demands.

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Students at Queen's University in Canada have a reputation for being a little spoiled, a little rich and a little hedonistic, so a student comedy group made a parody of an admissions video playing up the stereotypes rather than trying to challenge them, Maclean's reported. The parody -- which might well work at many colleges -- is called "I Go to Queen's."

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 4:33am

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday issued a report finding that the Education Department lacks sufficient data on distance education programs to adequately perform oversight functions on the use of federal aid. While the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics is starting to collect more data, the GAO found that oversight units in the department do not yet have a plan for using that data.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 4:36am

Syracuse University has placed an assistant men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine, on leave amid reports that the local police are now investigating allegations that he sexually abused a ball boy for the team in the 1980s, USA Today reported. The university said that it investigated the allegations six years ago, but that Fine denied the charges and that a number of people whom the complainant said would verify his allegations failed to do so. Syracuse officials told The Post-Standard that they were suspending Fine because of a new allegation and because of the police investigation. Jim Boeheim, head coach of the basketball team, issued a statement backing Fine. "This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support," Boeheim said.

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