An article in Duke Today explores the tradition at Duke University (and elsewhere) of graduate students bringing food -- homemade or store-bought -- to their dissertation defenses. The article notes that defenses, while a crucial milestone, rarely take place until it is clear a student will pass, so the food can't be viewed as a bribe.
Higher Education Quick Takes
National journalism groups are flocking to criticize the University of Kentucky for cutting off a student newspaper's access to the institution's basketball players. The Associated Press Managing Editors and the Society for Professional Journalists both sent letters to Kentucky officials Tuesday condemning what the APME called the "reprehensible behavior" of Kentucky's athletics department in revoking the access of a Kentucky Kernel reporter to interview men's basketball players at the institution one on one. The decision, the editors wrote, "amounts to no less than an attempt to bully the newspaper into submission and to censor news concerning operations of the University of Kentucky athletic department." Kentucky officials acted after they said the reporter, Aaron Smith, had violated its policies concerning how information regarding walk-on players could be made public.
Wide gaps persist in the graduation rates of Division I football players and other male students, and these gaps are not limited to "football factory" institutions, according to a report released this morning by the College Sport Research Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study found only two conferences in Division I -- the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference -- in which football players graduated at rates greater than the full-time male student body. The Pac-12 (formerly the Pac-10) had the greatest gap, with football players graduating at a rate 26 points lower than other male students.
Over 76 percent of people in a survey in China said that universities don't disclose enough information about themselves, Xinhua reported. The news service reported that many students say that they must rely on personal networks for basic information. As a result, many students receive inaccurate information, the article said.
Iona College has suspended its provost, Warren Rosenberg, citing "inaccuracies in student performance data" that the college had reported, The Journal News reported. Details were not released. Rosenberg did not respond to a call to his office.
Syrian supporters of President Bashar al-Assad launched an attack on Columbia University's Facebook page Tuesday, posting numerous messages praising Assad. The Washington Post reported that a group called the Syrian Electronic Army was responsible, and that its motives were not clear. Some Assad critics later posted to Columbia's page apologizing for the pro-Assad posts.
One year removed from high school, 86 percent of new graduates believe that college is "worth the time and money," according to a new survey by the College Board. The majority holds (at 76 percent) for those who have not gone to college. The survey also found that 90 percent of all new high school graduates agree with the statement: "In today's world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school." Of those in college, 54 percent reported that their courses were more difficult than they expected, and many students said that they wished that they had taken more rigorous courses in high school.
Kansas State University recently introduced EcoKat, a special mascot to promote environmental causes -- and the fans are not thrilled. The Kansas City Star reported that, on Twitter, the #ecokat hashtag suggests considerable dislike, and that a #fakeecokat has also emerged on Twitter. Among recent tweets: "#EcoKat makes me want to leave my porch light on 24hours and drive two blocks to the gas station for a pack of gum," "EcoKat: The worst idea since the Power Towel" and from a University of Kansas fan "MY GOD. What is #kstate thinking? And you ask why you get made fun of ... #EcoKat. Please never change."
Officials at Des Moines Area Community College were alarmed when they read a tweet on Twitter that said: “Who wants to shoot up the DMACC Ankeny campus the same time I shoot up the Urban campus?” That message led to the arrest on Friday of Paul George, when he arrived for his second day of classes, The Des Moines Register reported. Authorities do not believe the threat was credible, but George faces a charge of first-degree harassment. Officials at the community college found the tweet because they regularly monitor what is said about the institution on social networks.
The father of a Frostburg State University football player said doctors had told him that his son died from “severe head trauma,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. While the NCAA and Ivy League have recently ramped up safety precautions to treat concussions properly or avoid them altogether, death by head trauma is extremely rare in college sports; it is most common among youth and high school football players. According to the University of North Carolina’s Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, from 1982 through 2010, 113 high school football players died from injuries that resulted in a brain or spinal cord injury or skull or spinal fracture -- while at the college level, nine died. The most recent death was in 2002-3. The Times report noted that “a different cause of death could be identified as facts of his case emerge.”