Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Friday, February 1, 2013 - 4:08am

William L. Pollard, who has clashed repeatedly with faculty and student leaders, has resigned as president of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, The New York Times reported. Faculty members at the college have twice voted no confidence in him, and students organized a class walkout last year to demand his departure. His critics say he shifted resources away from programs vital to education and the local community. Pollard's defenders have said that he was focused on good management for the institution.

 

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 4:12am

A jury on Thursday awarded $849,000 to a former student who says she was kicked out of the social work program at Wayne State University because of her pregnancy, the Associated Press reported. The university said she was removed for legitimate reasons. But the jury accepted the student's view that the university's poor evaluation of her was due to reviews she received on an internship, where she said her supervisor was offended by her status as an unmarried pregnant woman.

 

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 3:00am

Florida's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the state Constitution gives legislators ultimate authority to set tuition, presumably ending a six-year legal fight over whether that authority lay instead with the state's higher education governing board.

The former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, along with other politicians and some university leaders in the state, had argued that a 2002 constitutional amendment creating a statewide Board of Governors transferred tuition-setting power to the new body. (They believed the state's major public universities were underpriced on national terms and viewed legislators as unwilling to raise tuition.) A judge embraced their legal arguments early in 2011, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling later that year.

In its decision Thursday, the state Supreme Court backed the appeals court's ruling. "Nothing within the language of [the Constitutional amendment] indicates an intent to transfer this quintessentially legislative power to the Board of Governors," the high court's ruling said. "Accordingly, we conclude that the challenged statutes by which the Legislature has exercised control over these funds are facially constitutional."

The legal battling may be over, but the fight over tuition-setting continues. Legislators have proposed (and continue to propose) bills that would allow the University of Florida and Florida State University to raise tuition significantly, while Governor Rick Scott has not only rebuffed those but argued for lowering tuition rates.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

Federal financial aid programs should be quicker to punish colleges with high loan default rates and more vigilant in ensuring that all students are making satisfactory academic progress, a white paper released Wednesday by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities argued. The white paper, "Federal Student Aid: Access and Completion," is the latest in a series funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for using both loan default rates and repayment rates to judge colleges' eligibility to participate in financial aid programs. The association argued that standards should be tightened, saying colleges can game the current system by forcing students into forbearance and deferment.

The group also called for rewarding colleges with high completion rates for at-risk students with additional financial aid, cracking down on fraud and improving advising. The paper is somewhat an outlier among the Gates-funded efforts in proposing provisions that appear aimed at for-profit colleges, including the loan default provisions and a recommendation that the government count veteran's benefits as federal aid under the 90/10 rule, which governs how much of a college's revenue can come from the federal government.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

Excelencia in Education has released a new report, "Growing What Works" that highlights relatively small and affordable programs started at various colleges that have had a significant impact on improving retention and graduation among Latino students. The idea of the report is to spread the news about concrete successes various colleges have had.

 

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. State Department is proposing to raise two fees related to the Exchange Visitor [J-1 visa] Program. Under the proposed changes, described  in Wednesday’s Federal Register, the fee assessed for sponsor designation or re-designation would increase from $2,700 to $3,982, and the administrative fee charged for changes to a J-1 visa holder’s status (such as extensions or requests for reinstatement) would increase from $233 to $367.

Short-term visiting scholars fall under the Exchange Visitor Program, as do some students who are being supported by sources other than personal or family funds. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted through April 1.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Reichler of the University of Utah explains the connection between winds in the upper atmosphere and deep ocean currents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

The new president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities pledged to make the group "the happy warriors of a great and godly cause," telling the association's president that his goal was to create a movement of Christian colleges incorporating faith into all areas of academic life. "I want to make not just the spiritual case, but the educational and economic case -- and yes, there is an economic case -- for the integration of faith and learning," Edward O. Blews, Jr., the former president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan, told the Christian college group at his inauguration at its annual meeting Wednesday.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

A faculty investigative committee at the University of California at Berkeley has determined that Terrence Deacon, a professor there who was accused of plagiarism in an unusually public manner, did not commit academic misconduct.

The research misconduct allegations were levied by Michael Lissack, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, on behalf of himself and two other researchers, Alicia Juarrero, a professor emerita at Prince George’s Community College, and Carl Rubino, a classics professor at Hamilton College. In addition to filing a complaint with Berkeley’s administration, Lissack also created a website detailing the works in question and tracking each instance of supposed plagiarism.

In response, Berkeley has taken the unusual step of creating a website detailing the committee’s findings, which exonerate Deacon. The committee’s findings state that overlap between one of Juarrero’s books and Deacon’s Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter was merely the result of two authors writing about the same topic. In other instances of alleged plagiarism, the committee found, Deacon’s works were actually published or submitted to the publisher before the supposedly plagiarized works were available.

The Berkeley committee also addresses Lissack’s assertion that failing to cite an important work in one’s field constitutes plagiarism. Calling this a “novel standard,” the committee argues that works by Juarrero, Rubino and Lissack also fail to cite previous research in their fields. The committee writes that neglecting an important work is not within the scope of plagiarism, generally defined as knowingly or recklessly using someone else’s words or ideas.  

The committee’s report concludes: “Would it have been better if Deacon had read and cited Juarrero’s book? Yes.… Still, the failure to cite an earlier work with the same subject matter, even an important one, is not by itself research misconduct.”

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 3:00am

The Drake Group was born out of a meeting at Drake University in 1999, but in the years since, the faculty group intent on reforming college sports has been a nomad, lacking a permanent home. But that will change now, with the group going "in residence" at the University of New Haven, the academic home of Drake's current president, Allen Sack. a professor of sport management. The Drake Group has focused its efforts on ensuring academic integrity in college athletics.

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