Higher Education Quick Takes
College athletes in contact sports such as football and ice hockey were more likely than peers in non-contact sports to perform worse than expected on tests measuring the ability to absorb new learning, according to a study published this week in the journal Neurology. The study, by Thomas McAllister of Dartmouth College's medical school, did not find differences in test results between the two groups of athletes at the beginning of the season, suggesting that head impacts from previous seasons did not appear to diminish thinking and memory skills in contact-sport athletes.
But where just 4 percent of the athletes in non-contact sports (such as crew, track, and skiing) performed worse than expected on the test of new learning after their playing season, 22 percent of contact-sport athletes did. (Players who had suffered concussions were excluded from the study.) Concerns about cognitive impairment due to head impacts has been escalating, most notably in football and most intensely at the professional and high school levels.
- Tracy W. Barlok, associate vice president for advancement at Skidmore College, in New York, has been selected as vice president for development and alumni relations at College of the Holy Cross, in Massachusetts.
- David Markwardt, assistant professor of zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University, has been promoted to associate professor of zoology there.
- John J. McCarthy, distinguished professor and special assistant to the provost at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been promoted to vice provost for graduate education and graduate school dean there.
- Jeremy Ryan, director of development at Anthem Worldwide, has been named vice president of digital services at Lipman Hearne.
- Robert A. Schapiro, interim dean and professor of law at Emory University School of Law, in Georgia, has been appointed as Dean and Asa Griggs Candler professor there.
- Mary Todd, founding dean of the honors college at Marshall University, in West Virginia, has been chosen as executive director of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, in Louisiana.
- Ed Weis, dean of the business division at Molloy College, in New York, has been named dean of the School of Business at Mercy College, also in New York.
People with higher degree attainment and their families have healthier lives, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the findings:
- In 2007-2010 in households where the head of household had less than a high school education, 24 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls were obese. In households where the head had a bachelor’s degree or higher, 11 percent for males aged 2-19 years and 7 percent for females were obese.
- In 2007-2010, women 25 years of age and over with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent - 43 percent) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25 percent).
- In 2010, 31 percent of adults 25-64 years of age with a high school diploma or less education were smokers, compared with 24 percent of adults with some college and 9 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Between 1996-2006, the gap in life expectancy at age 25 between those with less than a high school education and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 1.9 years for men and 2.8 years for women. On average in 2006, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 9.3 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
David Coleman, one of the chief architects of and advocates for the common core curricular standards under consideration by states nationwide, will become the next president of the College Board, The New York Times reported. The College Board is best known for the SAT and the Advanced Placement program, but Coleman said that he sees a broader mission for the organization, telling the Times that "the College Board is not just about measuring and testing, but designing high-quality curriculum.”
The election of François Hollande as France's president also marks a breakthrough in French higher education, Le Monde reported. Hollande is the first alumnus of HEC (a business-focused university) to become president, and he's the first French president to have attended a business school. (More typical educational backgrounds have been at the nation's elite military or civil service-oriented institutions.) Le Monde noted that "the HEC phenomenon" is evident in a range of powerful people in French society who are its graduates. They include business leaders, as is to be expected, but also Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Rémy Pflimlin, president of France Télévisions; and Louis Dreyfus, chairman of the executive board of Le Monde Group. The rise of these HEC-educated officials represents "profound change in the French elites."
With regents appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry reportedly interested in ousting Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin, reporters asked Perry about Powers on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported that Perry declined to talk about the subject, saying only "I got a state to run," and adding that he doesn't focus on any one campus. Perry did say that the move by the University of Texas Board of Regents to freeze tuition (over the objections of Powers) sent a "good message" about controlling college costs. And Perry praised the $10,000 degrees several universities have started at his urging. (Many experts question whether these programs are sustainable and some see costs being shifted to other students.)
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cleared the University of Missouri at Kansas City of wrongdoing after a former adjunct instructor accused the college of inflating an athlete's grade over his objections.
In a letter UMKC provided Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, an NCAA investigator writes that no violations occurred, saying that the changing of the athlete's grade was done through a legitimate appeals process and without athletic department involvement. The grade change didn't affect the athlete's eligibility, the letter said. UMKC had denied wrongdoing from the start and said at the time that it would welcome an investigation.
In a written statement, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton praised the NCAA investigation and criticized the news media for reporting on the "unsubstantiated allegations made by a single disgruntled part-time instructor."
"The fact that it took the organization only four working days to investigate the matter and come to this conclusion speaks volumes about the utter lack of substance to these baseless allegations," Morton wrote.
Faculty members and librarians at Kean University voted no confidence in the university's Board of Trustees this week, with 94 percent of responding faculty members saying they had lost faith in the board. Professors have clashed with the university's president, Dawood Farahi, for several years. Tensions came to a head early this year when the faculty accused Farahi of including false information on his résumé. After an investigation in which lawyers hired by the board found that Farahi had falsified some of the statements on earlier résumés, the board voted seven to four to keep Farahi in place, a decision that further angered faculty members. Professors voted no confidence in Farahi in 2010.
Ada Morell, chair of the board, said in a statement that she was not surprised by the outcome of the vote, particularly because the faculty union is negotiating a new contract with the state. "Such votes are a common tool employed by labor leaders and part of the democratic process," she said.
The vote of no confidence in the trustees comes after outside groups have continued to find problems with the university. In spring 2011, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found that the university failed to comply with two of its standards: measuring student learning outcomes and institutional effectiveness. Since the board voted to keep Farahi in place, the commission found that the university is failing to comply with two additional standards: general education and institutional integrity, or adherence to ethical standards and stated policies. A report by the NCAA questioned the institution's control over its athletics department, particularly its women's basketball program.