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Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The Chicago Tribune published new details this weekend on the admissions scandal in which politicians pressured the University of Illinois to admit politically connected applicants to various programs. The Tribune exposed the "clout" system in 2009, but has been fighting for information on who actually benefited. The new article details the politicians involved (a bipartisan group) and details the number of requests made and how successful their beneficiaries were (generally more successful than most applicants). In many cases, the applicants had family or other ties to individuals or groups who were major donors to the politicians' campaigns.

Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dustin Morrow of Portland State University examines the practice of updating classic films for theatrical re-release. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Athletic officials at Radford University were already in trouble when the National Collegiate Athletic Association learned that players on the men’s tennis and men’s basketball teams, and one prospective basketball recruit, received impermissible benefits such as transportation, lodging and meals. But university officials made the case all the worse by “not only providing false and misleading information, but the encouragement of a student athlete to do the same,” Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions said in a call with reporters Friday. “This conduct, which is really the essence of this case, is obviously inconsistent with the core values of honesty and sportsmanship, and completely counter to a coach’s responsibility to educate student athletes in their program.”

As punishment, Radford will receive public reprimand and censure; two years’ probation; a two-scholarship reduction in basketball for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; vacation of four wins during the 2010-11 season, when an ineligible athlete competed, and a $2,000 penalty ($500 for each game in which said athlete played); and, self-imposed by the university, a reduction of two official paid visits in basketball during the 2011-12 academic year and the suspension of the head tennis coach during the 2011 season. In addition, the NCAA imposed a five-year "show cause" penalty on any institution that hires two former assistant basketball coaches and a former director of operations, requiring them to explain why they should not limit those officials' recruiting activities.

Radford is the latest to be reprimanded for a deliberate cover-up, following the University of Tennessee and Louisiana State and Ohio State Universities last year. Not only did coaches knowingly violate NCAA rules, the public infractions report says, the head basketball coach in interviews during the investigation didn’t disclose several instances of students getting impermissible travel and lodging from other coaches, and in one instance lied about whether he was aware of such activity. He also told staff and coaches not to provide further information to the NCAA, the report says. It goes on to say that the athlete whom the coach encouraged to “provide false and misleading information” to  the committee ended up withdrawing as a student after undergoing “serious emotional distress.”

This was Radford’s first major infractions case.

Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The Women's Campaign of the University of Cambridge is organizing a petition drive to disinvite Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- the former head of the International Monetary Fund -- to speak at the university. "The Cambridge Union Society's decision to invite Dominique Strauss-Kahn to speak this term displays, when interpreted most charitably, a callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy. At worst, the invitation betrays an abhorrent disregard for the many survivors of sexual violence amongst the student body," says the petition. "We believe that free speech is about more than inviting rich, white, powerful (in this case allegedly rapist) men to define the union's termcard year after year." The petition notes that Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of anything but says that this is "because of institutional sexism in the legal system."

Katie Lam, president of the group that invited him, defended the decision. "The reason he's been invited is because he's a fascinating figure and has exceptional knowledge in this field," she told AFP. "So I don't think it's inappropriate to have invited him. Speaking at the Union doesn't imply approval or endorsement, or indeed disapproval."

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Emily Bernhard Jackson of the University of Cambridge examines the philosophical questions presented in the writing of Lord Byron. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The Council of the American Sociological Association released a statement this week criticizing the federal government for seeking to force a Boston College library to turn over to British law enforcement officials confidential oral history records. The case remains in the courts and has caused considerable alarm among historians who rely on oral history. (The documents in question relate to a violent period in the history of Northern Ireland, with many key players still alive and not expecting their interviews to be public until after their deaths.) The statement from the sociology group says, in part: "The release of the 'Belfast Project' interview data threatens the academic freedom to study difficult and controversial topics. It undercuts the willingness of potential participants in future research to share valuable information. In the short run, such intrusion in research seeking to understand past tragedies can harm the processes through which Northern Ireland now seeks political stability. And in the long run, we must weigh the potential damage to social science that can provide a firmer knowledge base for avoiding these types of conflicts in the future."

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:00am

For the first time ever, just over 30 percent of adults in the United States, aged 25 or older, have at least a bachelor's degree, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday. In 1998, not even 25 percent of the comparable population had a bachelor's degree. The data show numerous gaps among members of various groups:

  • Fifty percent of Asian Americans 25 years and over reported having a bachelor's degree or higher in 2011. This level of education was reported by 34 percent of white people, 20 percent of black people and 14 percent of Hispanic people.
  • Of the 61 million people 25 and over with bachelor’s degrees, 30 million were men and 31 million were women. The number of women with bachelor's degrees increased 37 percent in the last decade, while the increase for men was 23 percent.
  • The number of men 25 years old and over with doctorate degrees increased 24 percent in the last decade, from 1.5 million to 1.9 million. The increase for women was 90 percent, from 0.6 million to 1.2 million.
Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The federal government has subpoenaed information from Pennsylvania State University related to the child sex abuse case that forced the resignations of several top administrators and the university's renowned football coach, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A university spokeswoman confirmed the existence of the information request, but declined to provide any information about the nature of the information requested about Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach whose alleged sexual assaults of children have brought state charges against him and two former Penn State administrators. The subpoenas came from the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg, whose officials could not be reached by the Inquirer Thursday.

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:00am

Students attending for-profit colleges received $280 million of the $563 million spent last year by the Department of Defense on tuition assistance for active-duty members of the military, according to a new study by the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Six for-profit college companies collected 41 percent of the total expenditure.

The study also analyzed Department of Defense spending on on education benefits for military spouses. For-profits received $40 million of that $65 million, with $12 million going to for-profits that are not eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs. As the report noted, those institutions operate outside of the government's "regulatory regime set up to ensure minimal levels of program integrity."

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 4:22am

Bryn Mawr College announced Thursday that it will host a workshop by the gay performance artist Tim Miller, whose scheduled appearance was called off by Villanova University officials, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Bryn Mawr program will be open to Villanova students. The cancellation of Miller's faculty-invited appearance at Villanova has angered many faculty members there and elsewhere, who see the move as a violation of academic freedom. A statement from Bryn Mawr said: "Bryn Mawr College is a community of scholars with a long history of honoring freedom of expression.... Bryn Mawr's commitment to freedom of expression means that speakers who conduct themselves within the college's general guidelines are entitled to express their ideas without hindrance, no matter how unpopular or controversial their ideas might be."

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