Higher Education Quick Takes
Investigations by Tilburg and Groningen Universities, in the Netherlands, have found that Diederik Stapel faked research data that was used in at least 30 research papers, Dutch News reported. Stapel, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Tilburg, was suspended in September as inquiries began into some of his work. In a statement Stapel posted on a newspaper site, he said that he has "failed as a researcher and academic," adding that "I realize now that my behavior has stunned and angered my colleagues and put my area of expertise – social psychology – in a bad light."
Republicans have for weeks been attacking Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, as a liberal academic, citing her career teaching at Harvard University. Warren's academic ties may be helping her out, however, in raising money from fellow professors. The Associated Press reported that nearly $124,000, or 9 percent of Warren's itemized donations, have come from academics, many of them at leading universities.
Cooper Union, which has offered a top engineering and architecture education without charging anyone tuition for more than a century, may have to start charging tuition, The New York Times reported. The institution has made no decision on tuition, and officials have said that any tuition plan would not affect low-income students. Financial difficulties have raised the need to charge, Cooper Union leaders say. Many alumni and students are furious about the potential end of a tradition that they see as central to Cooper Union. Students are planning to walk out of classes Wednesday as part of a protest. A petition to preserve free tuition has attracted more than 2,000 signatures.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has released a letter finding Spring Arbor University to have violated the civil rights of a student with a mental health disability when it required him, after withdrawing voluntarily and in good academic standing, to meet certain conditions for readmission. OCR faulted the university for not determining that the student posed a "direct threat," which would have justified those conditions. A brief analysis of the case by the National Association of College and University Attorneys noted that OCR -- consistent with recent Justice Department interpretations but in a shift for OCR -- indicated that the threat would have to be against others, not to the student himself and others.
Domaine Javier, who identifies as female although she is biologically male, was expelled this fall by California Baptist University, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university declined to comment about the case, but university documents sent to Javier accuse her of engaging in fraud by concealing her identity. Javier told the newspaper that she believed she was being truthful when she told the university she is female, and that she has identified that way since she was a toddler. "I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. "They said, 'On your application form you put female.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that’s how I see myself.' "
The board of Southern University on Friday declared that the flagship campus at Baton Rouge is in a state of financial exigency, The Advocate reported. A similar vote failed in September, when several board members did not attend the meeting. Faculty groups and others have opposed the move, which makes it easier for the university to eliminate academic programs, tenured faculty positions, and more. But university leaders said that they needed flexibility to deal with budget cuts that have already been made by state officials in Louisiana, and more that are expected.
A jury on Friday awarded $4.1 million to Austin T. Wells for brain injuries he suffered after falling down an elevator shaft at an event sponsored by the University of Memphis in 2005, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The jury found the university 65 percent at fault and a gallery where the event was held 30 percent at fault, with Wells 5 percent responsible, and the funds provided to Wells will be provided in that proportion, minus the 5 percent. The university and the gallery owner had each blamed the other party for lack of supervision at the event.
The Pentagon on Friday pledged not to change tuition reimbursement policies for active duty military at this time. Cuts in benefits have been expected (and the Marine Corps indicated earlier in the month that it was ready to make cuts), causing concern to many active duty military members who are enrolled in various programs. The Pentagon announcement did not rule out future cuts, but said any changes would be made as part of a "holistic review of the military compensation package."
An Iowa jury has rejected a lawsuit by Bradley Barrett, who sued the University of Northern Iowa when he was fired as a music professor, The Waterloo Daily Courier reported. Barrett was fired after Northern Iowa officials learned that he had been named in a sex abuse suit filed by a former student of his when he taught at a high school. That suit was dropped based on a ruling on the statute of limitations.