Higher Education Quick Takes
What's it like at a California public university after so many rounds of budget cuts? At San Francisco State University, enrollment over the last five years has stayed relatively constant at just under 30,000, but the same number of students must make do with 16 percent fewer instructors -- a decline of 61 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 216 lecturers, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. The article describes a professor holding a lottery to figure out who can get the last few spots in a class, and a physical plant so behind on repairs that people must wear hats and gloves in class for a few weeks in winter as the boilers slowly heat up.
Goshen College has selected "America the Beautiful" to play before athletic events, the Associated Press reported. As a pacifist, Mennonite institution, Goshen has refrained from playing "The Star-Spangled Banner," and a brief period of doing so last year led to complaints from some students and alumni that its militaristic themes are inconsistent with college values, prompting the college to stop playing it. Officials believe that "America the Beautiful" expresses love for the United States without a military theme.
Authorities have released more details on the murder of a graduate student at the University of Idaho, and the apparent suicide of a former assistant professor there who was the prime suspect. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that the two had an affair, that Ernesto Bustamante, the former professor, had multiple personality disorder, and that he resigned following a complaint from Kathryn Benoit, the murder victim.
University students marched on the Greek parliament Wednesday as lawmakers moved ahead with controversial reform plans for higher education, The Financial Times reported. Government officials say that the reforms are needed because the problems at universities encourage many Greek students to go abroad for their educations. The reform plans, among other things, would limit students' role in governance, set time limits for degree completion, encourage ties of science programs to private businesses and allow non-academics to serve on university boards.
Cornell, Duke, Emory and Johns Hopkins University are the latest to make digitized "orphan works" -- those whose copyright holders are not known or reachable -- in their collections available to students, faculty, and authorized users on their campuses. They join the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Florida among universities that have opened up their orphan works under the auspices of the educational "fair use" exemption to U.S. copyright law. In the wake of Google's failed attempts to sell access to its massive cache of orphan works, a number of libraries have been working with each other and the Michigan-based HathiTrust Digital Library to identify orphans in their own digital collections and open them up to authorized users for research purposes.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association came down hard Wednesday on Bruce Pearl, the former University of Tennessee men's basketball coach, but imposed no penalties on the other high-profile coach ensnared in the university's rule-breaking case, Lane Kiffin, now at the University of Southern California. (It hardly held up Kiffin as a paragon of virtue, however.) The association's Division I Committee on Infractions said Wednesday that it had concluded that the university had failed to monitor its men's basketball program, which under Pearl engaged in an array of recruiting and other violations of NCAA rules.
The infractions panel said it would largely embrace a set of penalties that Tennessee had earlier imposed on itself, adding only a two-year probation. But the committee said it would require any college that hires Pearl by 2014 to show why it should not have to impose a severe set of limitations on his duties, given that his most serious rule breaking involved misleading NCAA investigators and encouraging other parties in the case to do the same. Three of Pearl's former assistants received similar "show cause" orders.
The committee also found that the Tennessee football program broke numerous "secondary" rules during Kiffin's one-year stint there in 2009, but that they did not rise to a level requiring penalties against the coach. But while Kiffin and officials at USC told reporters that they were pleased that he would avoid sanctions, the infractions panel did not have kind words for him. His time there was "not a record of which to be proud," the panel said.
A law professor who is 73 has sued the University of Pittsburgh, charging that he was passed over for a tenure-track opening because of his age. The university declined to comment, but The National Law Journal noted that Pitt is the fourth law school recently hit with an age discrimination suit. The others are at Michigan State University, University of Baltimore and University of Iowa.
Facing a decline in student interest, Melbourne University may end or revamp its Australian studies program, The Australian reported. A review panel found that fewer students at Melbourne (and at other universities) are interested in courses built on "the national narrative.'' One idea under consideration is to focus more on Australian environmental history, a subject that relates to Aboriginal history and to historical geography.