Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is facing questions and criticism over its decision on Friday to remove from its Facebook page comments about the strike by faculty members at the institution. The university removed the comments after a number were posted that urged officials to settle the strike or that expressed sympathy with the faculty members. Rod Sievers, a spokesman for the university, said that the university noticed some comments that were "profane" or were "personal attacks," and that some of the comments were "pretty vile." He said that campus officials initially tried to delete only that type of material, but that the university has only a single person to monitor the Facebook page. "That person couldn't keep up with the profanity and personal attacks. So the university had to stop all comments," Sievers said.

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:33am

The University of Colorado Board of Regents plans to reconsider a policy that generally allows tenured faculty members who are fired to remain on payroll for a year, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. It is rare for tenured faculty members to be fired, so the policy is rarely invoked, but the pay rule attracted attention when Ward Churchill was fired as an ethnic studies professor at the Boulder campus and he collected about $96,000 in salary after his dismissal. Under the shift being proposed, the board could determine whether a fired professor should be paid, and the board would consider recommendations on the issue from a faculty committee.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The presidents of public universities in Illinois have issued a joint letter opposing a pension reform plan that would give their faculty members -- and other state employees -- the option of paying more for current benefit levels, or of receiving smaller payments at various points in the future, The Pantagraph reported. "Reducing (faculty) benefits or forcing them to pay significantly more for benefits that were promised to them is likely to cause a significant migration of talented people out of this state," said the letter from the presidents. A spokeswoman for the legislator who came up with the plan said that "we encourage the university presidents and chancellors to tap into the talent at their universities and offer solutions, not just resistance."

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:36am

A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court last week seems likely to hurt the fight by some student newspapers in Virginia to keep running alcohol advertisements, the Associated Press reported. The newspapers are fighting state regulations banning such ads, arguing that that many of the papers' readers are in fact of legal drinking age. A federal judge considering the case asked the Virginia Supreme Court to consider the definition in the state of a college newspaper. The court ruled that newspapers can still be considered college publications, even if a majority of readers are 21 and older, if the primary intended audience is younger.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania State University, its football program and two senior administrators are facing a growing scandal over allegations of sex abuse by the former defensive coordinator of the team. On Sunday night, the university announced the resignations of two senior officials implicated for allegedly not reporting the sex abuse and charged with lying about what they knew.

Pennsylvania authorities have charged Gerald Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator,  with 40 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of young boys, including incidents that are said to have taken place on university grounds. Two other officials -- Tim Curley, the athletics director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business -- were charged with perjury (for allegedly lying about what they know about Sandusky) and for failing to report to authorities an incident that was reported to them. All three officials have denied wrongdoing.

A statement from Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said: "This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys. It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys."

On Saturday, Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, issued a statement that did not offer a view of the charges against Sandusky, but that strongly supported Curley and Schultz. "The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance," Spanier said. "With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former university employee. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately."

But on Sunday night, Penn State's board announced that Curley and Schultz would leave their positions to focus on defending themselves. Further, the board announced plans for an investigation into the university's policies and procedures for the protection of children. Steve Garban, chair of the board, released this statement: "The board, along with the entire Penn State family, is shocked and saddened by the allegations involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Under no circumstances does the university tolerate behavior that would put children at risk, and we are deeply troubled."

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A female student at Frostburg State University died early Sunday after she was stabbed in the head by another female student in an off-campus residence, authorities said, The Washington Post reported. It is rare for students to be murdered, and killings by one female student of another are particularly rare. But this is the second incident this academic year at a Maryland public university in which one female student has been charged with killing another.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

New data from the World Economic Forum show that gender gaps in higher education leave some countries (including the United States and many other developed nations) with female enrollments significantly outpacing male enrollments, while other countries face the opposite situation. The female-to-male enrollment ratio is highest in Qatar (6.31 to 1), followed by Bahamas (2.70 to 1), Maldives (2.40 to 1), Jamaica (2.22 to 1) and Barbados (2.18 to 1). The United States ratio is 1.40 to 1. On the other end of the scale are (in order of lopsidedness) Chad, Gambia, Benin, Ethiopia and Nepal (which range from 0.17 female students to 1 male student, to 0.40 to 1). The full report (which examines gender gap issue on a variety of economic and societal statistics) may be found here. The data on postsecondary enrollments are in Appendix D, Table D9.

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Janet Angelis of the State University of New York at Albany examines the common actions and policies shared by high-performing schools. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The vice chancellor (the equivalent of president) of the University of Queensland and his top deputy have announced plans to resign their positions amid a scandal over an admissions irregularity at the Australian institution. The official statement from the university praised both officials but said that they offered their resignations after an inquiry "confirmed an irregularity had occurred in the admission process for a student." While the statement said that no specific act of wrongdoing was attributed to the student or the senior officials, they still said that they would quit. The Australian reported that the student was a relative of Paul Greenfield, the vice chancellor who is resigning, and that this relative was admitted to a medical program. The newspaper also reported that a second investigation has started -- this one focusing on the admission to the dental school of the husband of an academic at the university.

 

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 3:00am

An Abilene Christian University bus crashed Friday, killing a student and injuring 15 other students and faculty members, the Associated Press reported. The group was traveling to do service work at a children's home. The driver was a faculty member who apparently lost control of the bus as it was entering a bend.

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