Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee on Friday expressed confidence in President Mark Emmert, even as some critics have called for his resignation in the face of the association's brutally embarrassing acknowledgment that its officials botched an investigation of rules violations at the University of Miami. Emmert was forced to concede last week that NCAA administrators had known about the association's improper hiring of a lawyer who manipulated bankruptcy proceedings to help the NCAA build a case, in contravention of the NCAA's procedures. Several top NCAA officials resigned, but two top aides to Emmert did not even though they acknowledged knowing about the improper conduct. When asked during a news conference last week whether he should take personal responsibility for the controversy, Emmert said it would be up to the executive committee to decide.

In its statement Friday, the panel, which is made up of college presidents, said that the association had significant work to do to ensure the credibility of its regulatory and enforcement processes. "Mark Emmert was hired to lead a major transformation of the NCAA.  Much has been accomplished without fanfare, such as academic reforms, enhanced fiscal accountability and organizational transparency," the panel said. "The Executive Committee and President Emmert recognize there is much yet to do and that the road to transformational change is often bumpy and occasionally controversial.  Therefore, on Friday the Executive Committee unanimously affirmed its confidence in Mark’s leadership as president and its support for his ongoing efforts to implement these essential and historic reforms.”

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:00am

A white paper from HCM Strategists released today -- the latest in a series of reports on redesigning the federal financial aid system sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- calls for simplifying the federal student aid programs into one grant, one loan and one tax credit aimed at nontraditional students, as well as investing in research and pilot programs to further improve student aid. The report, written by several financial aid experts, would also redefine full-time status as 15 credits per semester rather than 12, in an effort to provide incentives to students to complete college, and base repayment for all student loans on borrowers' incomes.

The report accompanies an earlier white paper from the public policy consulting group stating broad principles for redesigning federal financial aid.

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:00am

James Beckwith, formerly interim president and chief financial officer of Southern Vermont College, killed himself Wednesday, with federal authorities charging that he embezzled $440,000 while serving as interim president, The Bennington Banner reported. Beckwith resigned suddenly as CFO this month, apparently when the college learned of the allegations. Authorities said that he took college money while serving as interim president.  A statement on the college's website expressed condolences to Beckwith's family and said: "This is a difficult and sad time for all who knew Jim. His many contributions to our community will be remembered."


Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Suzanne Wagner of Michigan State University explores the connection between the use of non-standard English and choices about higher education. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:00am

Northwestern University has appointed a panel of professors to review the history of John Evans, one of the university's founders, and his links to a massacre of Native Americans. Several professorships are named for Evans, as is the city of Evanston, where Northwestern is located. Evans was governor of the Colorado Territory (after the university's founding) at the time of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Native Americans, and many Indian students and others question the appropriateness of honoring him at the university.  The committee -- a mix of professors from Northwestern and elsewhere -- will study the role Evans played in the massacre, and "whether any financial support for Northwestern from Evans could be attributed to wealth he obtained as a result of policies and practices he pursued while territorial governor regarding the Native American populations there."

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:00am

The College Humor website has announced the winners of its $5,000 Average Student Scholarships. The biographies of winners won't be confused for those who receive Rhodes Scholarships. One winner was lauded this way: "His G.P.A. of 2.083 barely hovers over the disgraceful 1.9, and one more misstep would send him tumbling down a cliff that'd be hard to climb out of." Another was praised for her culinary habits. "In her sad and slightly disturbing video entry, Jordan munches on a brick of uncooked Ramen like that's something normal people actually do." More information on the award winners may be found here.

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 4:11am

Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from -- and may in fact be hurt by -- digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College suggest.

"Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas," by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, researchers at the center, examines the performance of nearly 40,000 Washington State community college students who took both online and on-ground courses, and finds significant differences in how various subgroups performed. Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes, men, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.

The performance of adult students was mixed: they completed slightly more courses online, but achieved slightly lower grades in them than they did in on-ground courses.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 4:35am

Be careful about putting too much weight in the "report cards" various organizations issue about state education policies. A new analysis from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that the grades are fairly predictable, based on the ideology of the group doing the evaluations. As a result, every state has earned a D or F on at least one of the report cards in recent years. An almost every state has earned an A or B on one of the report cards. The analysis was prepared by Sherman Dorn, an education professor at the University of South Florida, and Ken Libby, a doctoral student at Boulder.


Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

A University of Minnesota wrestler who posted original music videos on YouTube and songs on iTunes has been declared ineligible because National Collegiate Athletic Association rules prohibit athletes from using their name or image for commercial purposes, USA Today reported. Joel Bauman chose to forgo his athletic scholarship rather than singing under an alias or taking the music down because his goal is to inspire people, he said. (Below is the video for his chase-your-dreams song, "Ones in the Sky," which has more than 23,000 views.)  

Responding to an inquiry from Sports Illustrated, the NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Minnesota chose to interpret the rule that way and that Bauman could seek a rules waiver with the university’s support. If Minnesota hadn’t declared Bauman ineligible and he’d continued making music under his own name, the university could have faced NCAA sanctions (which could include declaring Bauman ineligible). Bauman is also a motivational speaker. He told SI he has yet to break even financially on anything he's done.


Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Ohio State University joins Morehouse College this year as site of a commencement speech by President Obama. Two other sitting presidents -- George W. Bush and Gerald Ford -- have addressed Ohio State graduates. Historically, presidents deliver commencement addresses at one public institution, one private institution and a U.S. service academy.



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