Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 19, 2015

The University of Kentucky spent nearly $800,000 on a trip to the Bahamas for the basketball team to play exhibition games, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While other colleges spend big on exhibition games in the Bahamas, the Kentucky travels cost much more than similar trips by other universities' teams that the newspaper found cost $154,000 or $38,000. Why were the Kentucky costs so high? The university didn't only pay for its own travel, but for the travel and expenses of the three teams it played: national teams of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, a French professional team. The Courier-Journal reported that this practice of paying for opposing teams' travel was a new one for American college basketball.

There were other costs as well. Coach John Calipari, for example, had a $1,550-per night hotel suite.

 

January 19, 2015

A group of 24 colleges and universities have teamed up to develop and share online courses that are designed to help students complete general-science education courses. Arizona State University and Smart Sparrow, an "adaptive" learning company, helped create the group, which is dubbed the Inspark Science Network. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed a $4.5-million grant to Smart Sparrow for the project.

Adaptive courseware, loosely defined, responds to individual students' abilities and progress. Ariel Anbar, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at Arizona State, collaborated with Smart Sparrow to create an adaptive online course about the search for extraterrestrial life.

January 19, 2015

As part of a court settlement, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has restored the 112 wins it previously vacated at Pennsylvania State University following former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's conviction on 45 counts of child abuse in 2012. Nearly all of the wins took place under the late Joe Paterno, a revered coach at Penn State and a key figure in the Sandusky scandal. The NCAA vacated the wins as part of a series of sanctions that also included suspending the university from participating in postseason games and fining the institution $60 million.

That fine became the focus of a lawsuit, which was originally meant to determine where the penalty should be spent but gradually became a referendum on the NCAA's authority to impose sanctions in the first place. The NCAA has since walked back many of the sanctions, including ending Penn State's postseason ban in September, two years earlier than what the punishment called for. "Today is a victory for the Penn State nation," Jake Corman, a Pennsylvania senator, told Reuters. "The NCAA has surrendered."

In a statement Friday, the NCAA said the agreement reaffirms its authority to act, and that the $60 million fine will be used to support child abuse prevention and treatment programs. "Continuing this litigation would further delay the distribution of funds to child sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine,” said Harris Pastides, president at the University of South Carolina and the new Division I Board of Directors chair. “While others will focus on the return of wins, our top priority is on protecting, educating, and nurturing young people.”

January 19, 2015

On the latest "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College and Robert Kelchen of Seton Hall University join Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and "This Week" moderator Casey Green to analyze the Obama administration's proposal to make community college free nationally. And in our other segment, two former college presidents and foundation officials, William G. Bowen and Eugene M. Tobin, discuss their recent book urging a reboot of academic governance at the institutional level. Sign up here for notification of new editions of "This Week."

 

January 19, 2015

A tenured professor of sociology at Colorado State University at Pueblo is suing the institution for allegedly violating his free speech rights as he tried to organize protests over planned layoffs, the Denver Post reported. Tim McGettigan, the professor, says that his email and computer access were blocked in January 2014, after the university announced it was planning to shed 50 faculty and staff members – and after McGettigan emerged as a key critic of the move. In the lawsuit, McGettigan also alleges the university’s computer access policy -- which bans the creation, storage or transmission of content that Pueblo “may deem to be offensive, indecent or obscene” – is unconstitutional. Elizabeth Wang, McGettigan’s attorney, said the professor is still barred from sending group distribution emails. A university spokesman declined to comment on any pending litigation.

January 19, 2015

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, plans to propose this week that the state cover two years of loan repayments for graduates of colleges who live in the state, earn less than $50,000 and are enrolled in the federal Pay as You Earn Program, The New York Times reported. Cuomo's office estimates that about 7,100 people would be eligible in the first year, but that the number would rise to 24,000 a year as more people, based on this new effort, enroll in the federal loan repayment program.

 

January 19, 2015

Solano Community College has expelled three women's basketball players after they were arrested and jailed for allegedly assaulting a fellow student, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. According to the father of the alleged victim, his daughter had been friends with the basketball players until they had a falling out. Then they told her to meet them in a park to settle their differences, and they allegedly punched and kicked her while others arrived with baseball bats and crowbars to damage her car.

 

January 19, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Lawrence Ian Reed, a psychologist at Skidmore College, examines the implications of facial expressions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

January 16, 2015

A California judge's "tentative" ruling on Friday said City College of San Francisco did not receive a fair hearing from its accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, according to KQED News. A final decision is still pending in the lawsuit, which San Francisco's city attorney filed in a local court. The suit seeks to block the comission's decision 16 months ago to revoke City College's accreditation.

City College and its supporters appear to be gaining the upper hand in the dispute. Also last week the commission granted the college a two-year extension. The college, which enrolls roughly 80,000 students, has been accused of a range of problems, including financial mismanagement. The commission itself has also come under fire, including for apparent conflicts of interest. 

January 16, 2015

A new study in the journal Science offers a new theory for gender gaps in academe. Researchers at Princeton University surveyed faculty members, postdocs and graduate students on whether they believed raw brilliance (as opposed to just hard work) was needed to get ahead in their discipline. In disciplines where there are strong beliefs about brilliance as a key factor to success, the number of women earning doctorates is lower than in other fields. The numbers of women earning doctorates go up in fields where scholars tend to believe that hard work and dedication are what matter.

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