State auditors are calling on the Los Angeles Community College District to seek a criminal investigation of the district's hiring of an inspector general to monitor a $5.7 billion construction program, The Los Angeles Times reported. State officials said that the district hired a company with links to a construction company that was a major donor in trustee elections, and that an initial review of the proposals for inspector general ranked the selected company second to last among 11 proposals. The Times has run a series of articles about mistakes and wasteful spending in the mammoth construction program. Most district trustees are reluctant to seek a criminal investigation, saying that they do not see the need.
Higher Education Quick Takes
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing has added two more colleges to the list of hundreds that no longer restrict admissions to those willing to submit SAT or ACT scores. The new additions are Earlham and Nichols Colleges. According to FairTest, Earlham is the 36th "national liberal arts college" ranked in the U.S. News & World Report top 100 to move away from automatic testing requirements.
Leon Panetta, the new secretary of defense, is calling on the military to look for new ways to promote language training. In a memo last week to senior Pentagon officials, he said that "language, regional and cultural skills are enduring warfighting competencies that are critical to mission readiness in today's dynamic global environment." He asked relevant military leaders to "establish and execute policies" to "show we value these skills." He called for more "cross-cultural training," and new efforts to "increase and sustain the foreign language proficiency" of military professionals.
Georgetown University's basketball team is on a trip to China, where it is playing Chinese squads as part of the university's efforts to build ties in the country. But on Thursday night a brawl broke out during a game in Beijing with the Bayi Rockets, and the game ended prematurely as Coach John Thompson III pulled his team off the court as the crowd showered it with plastic bottles and other refuse. John Thompson issued this statement: "Tonight, two great teams played a very competitive game that unfortunately ended after heated exchanges with both teams. We sincerely regret that this situation occurred. We remain grateful for the opportunity our student-athletes are having to engage in a sport they love here in China, while strengthening their understanding of a nation we respect and admire at Georgetown University."
YouTube has video of the brawl:
The University of California, whose campuses have worried about losing top faculty members amid budget cuts and salary freezes and cuts, on Wednesday announced that faculty members who receive good performance reviews will receive a 3 percent raise, The Los Angeles Times reported. Non-academic, non-unionized employees could receive larger raises. The university also announced that administrators who earn more than $200,000 will not be included in the raise pool.
New York University has agreed to pay $210,000 to settle a suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over racial harassment of an employee from Africa, CNN reported. The EEOC said that the supervisor referred to the employee as a "monkey" and "gorilla," asked "do you want a banana?" and urged the employee to "go back to your cage," An NYU spokesman said that the supervisor is no longer employed by the university and that NYU does not tolerate such behavior.
The State University of New York is planning to have two of its presidents each lead a second campus. The Associated Press reported that Wolf Yeigh, president of SUNY Institute of Technology, will also become president of Morrisville State College, and SUNY Delhi President Candace Vancko will also become president of SUNY Cobleskill.
Some eyebrows were raised recently when Vanderbilt University's Office of Religious Life sent faculty members a list of the holidays that some students might observe, and for which they might ask to reschedule exams or assignments. The Tennessean reported that the list included four holidays marked "Wicca/Pagan." Officials said that they didn't know how many students observe those holidays, and that the list was taken from one from the BBC. Asked how faculty members would know whether a student seeking a scheduling change really was observing a Wiccan or Pagan holiday, a spokeswoman said that the university relied on the honor system.
The University of Dayton has unveiled a new way to encourage people to apply for aid and to visit the campus. Anyone who visits the campus, applies for admission and completes a financial aid form will get four years of free textbooks, worth up to $4,000. "We want to help parents and students understand that from the very first day, a University of Dayton education is very rewarding," said a statement from Kathy McEuen Harmon, assistant vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. "Through this initiative, we want to underscore that a University of Dayton education is affordable and we are committed to helping families in very tangible ways."
Governor Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, wants his state's universities to rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Brownback spoke on the issue Wednesday at a meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents. He said that he was open to higher admissions standards as one way to rise in the rankings.