Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 13, 2012 - 4:46am

The Alabama Board of Education is divided over the performance of Freida Hill as chancellor of the state's two-year college system, with four of the nine members giving her low marks in numerous areas as part of a recent evaluation, The Birmingham News reported. Three board members gave her high marks, and two others mixed marks. The criticisms were wide ranging, including a lack of communication with the board, poor relations with the state's K-12 system and poor morale in the system. Hill's defenders said that disgruntled college presidents have encouraged the criticisms. Hill is the sixth person to lead the system since a corruption scandal in 2006.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bard Ermentrout of the University of Pittsburgh explains what the colorful patterns on a seashell can reveal about the evolutionary history of the creature that created it. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan on Friday released a highly critical report on the institution's handling of a complaint that a medical resident at the university had a flash drive at work with child pornography on it. The report faulted the university for taking six months to handle the allegation, and for having a lawyer work on the complaint, rather than notifying the public safety department immediately. Mary Sue Coleman, the university's president, issued a statement in which she called the six-month delay "a serious failure on the part of our institution." The medical resident has since been dismissed from Michigan's program. The report said that no evidence was found that the resident obtained any of the photographs at university hospitals or that he acted inappropriately with any patients.

 

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

An American student at the American University in Cairo was arrested Friday and charged with fomenting dissent, the Associated Press reported. University officials said that they had no information about the arrest, which came amid a series of arrests of Americans working for nongovernmental organizations that promote democracy. Students at the university -- and students at many other universities in Cairo -- have been calling for a general strike this week to protest the continued control of the government by the military, a year after Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

A state audit released Friday revealed that Dickinson State University, in North Dakota, had awarded hundreds of degrees to Chinese students who did not complete required coursework and who in some cases may not have been able to do so, The Forum reported. The report described a campus that was so focused on attracting students that it cut corners to build its international enrollments. When the audit is shared with various authorities, Dickinson could face sanctions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (over visa issues), from the state (over enrollment figures) and from accreditors (over failure to assure educational quality). At a news briefing Friday, officials said that there was no one person or office responsible for the problems, but rather a series of inappropriate decisions involving the multicultural affairs, admissions and academic records offices, as well as a number of academic departments.

Briefings on campus about the audit were interrupted by reports that a university official, with a weapon, was missing. Later, Doug LaPlante, dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences, was found dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. The audit did not mention LaPlante by name, but officials said that many of the students who were awarded degrees inappropriately had been enrolled in the college he led.

No disciplinary actions were announced against anyone involved in the scandal, but officials told The Forum that Jon Brudvig had resigned as vice president for academic affairs, but would continue in another position.

The institution has been under scrutiny for months, starting with reports in August that it had listed about 180 people as enrolled who never were enrolled.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

China has seen a surge in private colleges in recent years, with hundreds of new institutions created in the last 15 years, The Washington Post reported. Many of the institutions are seen as second choices for those who can't win a spot at a public university, and they charge double the tuition of public institutions, but so many students want a higher education that these institutions continue to attract enrollments.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Friday rejected the University of Connecticut's request that the association waive a penalty that will ban the Huskies from the NCAA men's basketball championship in 2012-13 because of its players' past academic underperformance, the university announced. UConn officials, who said they would ask an NCAA appellate panel to review the decision by the association's Committee on Academic Performance to an appellate panel, had argued that it would be unfair to penalize next year's UConn players for the academic woes of players who have long since left the university. Connecticut proposed a set of alternative penalties, including forgoing revenues that its conference would have received from the university's participation in the tournament and restricting recruiting by its head coach, Jim Calhoun.

 

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 3:00am

When should scholarly associations honor a boycott? The Organization of American Historians is promoting a philosophical discussion of the issue, which has been challenging to many disciplinary associations, in an online discussion that will serve as an introduction to discussion at the OAH's annual meeting this year. Several disciplinary associations -- including the OAH -- have moved meetings because of boycotts of particularly hotels or cities or states. Most disciplinary meetings are set up years in advance, making it difficult to predict where a boycott may be in effect, and last-minute moves can be very expensive to associations, which may be stuck with bills for unused hotels. The online discussion features a sustained conversation among a group of noted historians -- including officers of the OAH and the American Historical Association. While the discussion suggests that participants would see some boycotts as appropriate in some circumstances, many questions are raised about when a disciplinary association should take a stand, and whether it is responsible to do so if such actions would endanger the financial health of the associations. The OAH is now inviting others to join the online discussion.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 4:15am

The board of Kean University on Thursday night heard impassioned speeches in favor of keeping and getting rid of President Dawood Y. Farahi before a lengthy executive session at which no decision was made, The Star-Ledger reported. Farahi has clashed with faculty leaders for years, and has to date had strong backing from his board. But the current debate is over the veracity of numerous résumés for Farahi that show papers that never appear to have been published. Farahi has said that he did not prepare the résumés in question, but that staff members he did not name made the errors when preparing versions of the documents.

At Thursday's meetings, supporters of Farahi accused faculty members of having a vendetta against Farahi and said that they were using the résumé issue. Jose Sanchez, head of social sciences, said he couldn't understand the "hatred" many feel for Farahi. Apparently addressing faculty critics of the president, he said: "It may be a lot of fun for you to do all this, but it is sadistic and wrong." But Ashley Kraus, a junior who spoke at the meeting, read from Kean's academic integrity policy and asked why requirements should apply to students but not administrators. "It’s just wrong. It teaches the wrong morals," she said.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Chris Gabbard of the University of North Florida explains how the academic spectrum can be enriched through the addition of disability studies programs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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