Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 4:29am

The board of Pennsylvania State University, struggling to respond to a growing sex-abuse scandal, vowed in a statement issued late Tuesday to take "swift, decisive action." The statement also said that trustees are "outraged by the horrifying details" emerging. "We hear those of you who feel betrayed," said the statement, which announced that the board on Friday will appoint a new committee "to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable."

Many are calling for the ouster of everyone -- including the legendary football coach, Joe Paterno -- who knew of possible sex abuse against children and didn't do everything possible to stop it. But on Tuesday, hundreds of students -- with the crowd getting as large as 1,500 -- rallied for Paterno. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the students marched to Paterno's home, shouting "We are Penn State!" and "Hell no Joe won't go."

The Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Penn State, published video of Paterno from Tuesday night telling the students how proud he is of them, and vowing that "we're always going to be Penn State." (UPDATE: On Wednesday, Paterno announced plans to retire at the end of the current football season.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate at Mississippi Valley State University has voted "no confidence" in President Donna Oliver, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., reported. A letter from faculty members cited five reasons for the vote: "(1) the continued decline in enrollment, (2) no faculty pay raises in five years, (3) no serious efforts to raise outside funds, (4) the general treatment of fellow faculty members and (5) the university not being moved in a positive direction." Oliver said she was surprised by the vote, adding that she hoped to work well with professors. She disputed the grievance on raises, saying that those who have won tenure or been promoted have received raises. She also said that enrollment declines preceded her arrival at the university.

 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 4:30am

With voters in an anti-tax move, many higher education leaders didn't see 2011 as an ideal time for bond referenda, but a few went forward -- with mixed results:

  • Texas voters approved a measure that will authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to issue bonds to create a long-term funding source for a student loan program, Bloomberg reported. Educators said that the authorization was key to meet rising demand for student loans.
  • Voters in the San Mateo Community College District failed to give the necessary super-majority to authorize $564 million in bonds for facilities improvements and technology at the California system's three colleges, Peninsula Press reported. The measure received support from 52.8 percent of voters, not the required 55 percent.
  • In North Carolina, voters narrowly approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase that will finance construction and renovation at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois on Monday released the results of an outside investigation it commissioned on false statements made by its law school about applicants' grade-point averages and test scores -- and the university pointed a finger at one person as responsible. Paul Pless, formerly assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school, on the Urbana-Champaign campus, "knowingly and intentionally" miscalculated data, the report found. Pless has been on leave since an inquiry started into the statistics, and he resigned last week. The various changes Pless made in applicants' test scores and grades were designed to give the law school a better U.S. News & World Report ranking. (Pless could not be reached for comment.) The investigation found that changes Pless made took place after applicants had been evaluated, so admissions decisions were based on accurate information.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

A medical professor at George Washington University who is alleged not to have taught classes, and simply to have awarded grades of A, has resigned, the Associated Press reported. Students complained to the university provost about the alleged lack of teaching.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 4:20am

South Korean officials announced Monday that the government is shutting down two universities -- Myungshin University and Sungwha College -- that were found to have violated the law through "serious corruption and irregularities," including embezzlement and creating fake documents, The Korea Herald reported. The government will help students current enrolled at the two institutions transfer elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Barry Albright of the University of North Florida introduces and describes a new species of dinosaur recently discovered in southern Utah. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at two California State University campuses -- East Bay and Dominguez Hills -- will strike for a day on Nov. 17 to protest a decision to withhold negotiated pay raises, according to the California Faculty Association. The association’s board of directors voted Monday to approve the strike.  The raises, for the previous two academic years, were withheld after the state cut funding, according to the Associated Press. Informational picketing is being organized today and Wednesday on all Cal State campuses in the state.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Outrage is growing at leaders of Pennsylvania State University -- and not only at those who are facing criminal charges over allegations of the sex abuse of young boys, and of university officials lying about it (charges denied by all involved). Petitions have appeared calling for the resignation of Graham Spanier as president of the university. This Wednesday, Spanier and his wife were to be honored at a Penn State fund-raising dinner, and organizers announced Monday that the Spaniers had requested that the event be postponed in light of the events of the last week, StateCollege.com reported.

Even as officials said that Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was not a target of a criminal investigation, calls came for his resignation or firing. A photograph sent on Twitter shows a sign -- since removed, according to other reports -- around a statute of Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium. The sign features a line from the Penn State alma mater -- "may no act of ours bring shame."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 4:50pm

In today's Academic Minute, Melissa Libertus of Johns Hopkins University reveals that a student’s math ability may be well established before formal math education ever begins. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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