Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Santa Clara University announced Monday that a hacker had managed to improve the grades of 60 undergraduates, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The university has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help track down exactly what happened. An inquiry into the hacking began when a former student came forward to say that a grade on her transcript was better than the one she thought she had earned. The grade changes varied from minor boosts to major ones, changing failing grades to As.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Williams College canceled all classes and athletic activities Monday after an incident of apparent racial bias -- and the college's initial response to it -- agitated many students. The phrase “All Niggers Must Die” was found scrawled on a hallway wall in a campus dorm early Saturday morning, according to a statement released by Adam Falk, the college’s president.  An initial e-mail to the campus angered students who thought the message's wording was vague, said Colin Adams, a member of the college’s faculty steering committee and professor of mathematics. Students demanded the cancelation of classes to create time for reflection about the incident, said James Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs. He said a police investigation into the incident is continuing.

Students and faculty and staff members participated in a day’s worth of programming on issues of inequality and diversity.  The main event was held near midday, with about 1,000 students, faculty and staff members assembled for several speeches by administrators and student leaders. “As we together organize our individual, group, and college-wide responses, may that be with outrage at what has occurred and at what too many members of the campus community are continually burdened by, along with the resolute sense that in the end we will succeed in making this campus, nation, and world a place that is safe for all,” Falk wrote in his second statement to the campus Monday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The higher education system in Illinois, once a national model, has seen sharp declines in performance driven not only by funding problems but by governance changes and political corruption, several leading researchers said in the first installment of a multipart study examining state higher education policies. The report, "A Story of Decline: Performance and Policy in Illinois Higher Education," was produced by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Research on Higher Education and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Future studies will examine Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Washington.

 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A sorority has placed six members on probation for dressing in blackface to depict characters from "The Cosby Show" for a costume party, the Associated Press reported. The women have all met with a group of African-American student leaders to discuss the incident.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 4:27am

The senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has approved a new set of policies aimed at giving the regional accreditor a greater role in assuring the academic quality of its members. Under the policies endorsed this month, WASC will begin external reviews of the retention and graduation rates of the colleges it accredits, and will post the action letters and team reports that result from its every-five-year reviews beginning next June. The agency will also require all institutions to show that their graduates have achieved institutionally defined "levels of proficiency" in written and oral communication, quantitative skills, critical thinking and information literacy, and to define the learning outcomes of each degree it offers.

The commission considered, but could not reach agreement on, a proposal that would have required each accredited institution to benchmark its outcomes in two of those five areas against other colleges. Discussion about that reform and others is continuing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Big Ten announced Monday that it is removing Joe Paterno's name from the conference's championship trophy, citing the controversy over Paterno's failure to alert the police to allegations of sexual abuse of children, ESPN reported. A statement said that the conference trophy was supposed to be "celebratory and aspirational, not controversial." ESPN released the results of polling it conducted on the firing of Paterno. Among all Americans, 51 percent think Paterno deserved to be fired, while 21 percent said he should have kept his position. But in Pennsylvania, more people believe it was wrong to fire Paterno (45 percent) than that it was the correct call (35 percent).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 4:35am

The West Virginia University Institute of Technology has decided to eliminate its football program, The Charleston Daily Mail reported. Officials cited the high costs of maintaining a team that did not attract many fans to its games.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A panel charged with studying the large and growing athletics deficit at the University of Maryland at College Park plans to recommend that the university eliminate 8 of its 27 sports teams, The Washington Post reported. The Post cited a source with firsthand knowledge of the report by the committee appointed by President Wallace D. Loh in July, which is charged with finding ways to raise revenue and cut costs to deal with a deficit that sits at $4.7 million now but could triple by 2017 without meaningful changes.

According to the Post, the commission will recommend ending five men's (indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, cross country, swimming and diving, and tennis) and three women's (swimming and diving, water polo and aerobics and tumbling) teams, which would take Maryland from four squads over the average for the Atlantic Coast Conference to four below. The recommendations would go to Loh, who could cut fewer or -- if recent history at other institutions is a guide -- challenge alumni to raise money to keep some of the teams alive.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 4:39am

High school students can benefit by considering "career clusters" and the education they require to succeed, says a new report issued Monday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The report argues that while there will be some jobs in the future for which only a high school diploma is required, those positions will be few and far between -- and will have limited advancement potential. The clusters in which students are likely to see the greatest number of jobs and advancement potential require a college education, the report says.

Monday, November 14, 2011 - 4:28am

Patrick Witt, Yale University's star quarterback, has withdrawn his application for a Rhodes Scholarship, citing his desire to play "the Game" against Harvard University on Saturday, Reuters reported. Witt's Rhodes interview was scheduled for the same day, but he opted to focus on the football game against Yale's arch-rival. In an interview last week, Witt noted that “in the description of the Rhodes, leadership is a major facet of who they select as candidates and finalists,” and that "in some ways, if I were to attend the interview and miss the game, I wouldn’t be acting as the leader that they selected to interview."

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