Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The family of the late Joe Paterno on Sunday issued a report denouncing the Freeh report, the outside investigation commissioned by Pennsylvania State University into the institution's responsibility for the sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky of numerous young boys. The Paterno family's report says that the Freeh report was based on "raw speculation and unsupported opinion – not facts and evidence," and the family statement says that there is in fact no evidence that Joe Paterno did anything wrong. Penn State and the National Collegiate Athletic Association shouldn't have relied on this report to draw conclusions on the scandal, the Paterno family says.

Penn State on Sunday issued a statement that did not directly attack the Paterno family's study, but that defended the value of its outside investigation. "As a result of the investigation, 119 recommendations were made to Penn State in areas such as safety and governance. To date, the university has implemented a majority of those recommendations, which are helping to make the university stronger and more accountable. The university intends to implement substantially all of the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013. It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report," said the university statement.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Five U.S. senators and 41 members of the House of Representatives have student loan debt -- and the total owed is more than $1.8 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. The center used financial disclosure reports for its study. A similar study from disclosure reports filed in 2008 found that only 3 senators and 27 House members at that time reported student loan debt. Most of the current debt is for the lawmakers' own educations, but some of the debt is in the form of loans for the parents of students, or co-signing the loans of children.



Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Annette Schavan resigned as Germany's education minister on Saturday, days after Heinrich Heine University revoked her doctorate, the Associated Press reported. The university found that portions of her dissertation had been plagiarized, a charge that Schavan has denied.


Friday, February 8, 2013 - 4:15am

An event featuring speakers calling for a boycott and other sanctions against Israel took place as scheduled Thursday evening at Brooklyn College, The New York Times reported. Some politicians have called on the college, part of the City University of New York, to call off the event, but the college (with backing from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others) has declined to do so, citing academic freedom. About 150 people held a protest outside the event.

The Nation published the prepared remarks of one of the speakers -- Judith Butler, a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley. "The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech," she said. "It not only bars such interventions, but it also protects those platforms in which we might be able to reflect together on the most difficult problems. You can judge for yourself whether or not my reasons for lending my support to this movement are good ones. That is, after all, what academic debate is about."

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

In a rare infractions case involving a Division III non-revenue sport, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Thursday that it has cited Occidental College for failing to monitor its women’s volleyball program, after a former head coach provided impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits, including travel on a booster’s private plane, rental cars, other travel and lodging. The coach also gave apparel to prospects and allowed recruits to travel with the volleyball team and sit on the bench, the public infractions report noted, in conflict with NCAA rules.

Additionally, the report notes, the former head football coach contacted 467 current football players to ask them to transfer to Occidental.

Occidental now faces several penalties, including the following: public reprimand and censure; two years’ probation; a two-year show cause order for the head volleyball coach, meaning any program that wants to hire him must seek approval from the NCAA; a 2013 postseason ban for the women’s volleyball team; vacation of all volleyball records from 2009-11, the years during which the transgressions occurred (self-imposed by the university); and prohibition from all off-campus recruiting for the volleyball team and for the football coach at his current university. In addition, the volleyball program played fewer tournaments and games in 2011-12, punishments that were also self-imposed.

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

Holy Family University eliminated 25 non-faculty positions last month, roughly 5 percent of its work force, Philadelphia Business Journal reported. The Philadelphia-area Roman Catholic institution has seen its enrollment dip from 3,224 to 3,094 in the last two years, its officials told the newspaper, saying that the layoffs would result in a shift of resources to "certain areas to enable us to continue to grow and prosper, one administrator said.

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Iowa accidentally e-mailed to each of about 2,000 students associated with the Center for Diversity and Enrichment the grade-point averages of all of those students, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. An attachment with the students' names and grades was inadvertently included with an unrelated e-mail message. The university has apologized, and notified the students.


Friday, February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Cathy Lucas of the University of Southampton explores the cyclical nature of jellyfish blooms. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

Tessa Martinez Pollack will leave the presidency of Our Lady of the Lake University on March 1, The San Antonio Express-News reported. Pollack has served nearly a decade, but has faced mounting criticism over the last semester. Some of the conflicts involve plans to eliminate a dozen majors, including religious studies. Many questioned how a Roman Catholic institution could consider eliminating that field.


Friday, February 8, 2013 - 4:13am

Condoms were removed from a campus drug store at National University of Singapore this week, but amid considerable attention locally, the university said that sales may resume, Bloomberg reported. Many had criticized the decision -- now called a "misunderstanding" by the university -- to have the condoms removed. One student told the news service that the university "is afraid of the implications that selling condoms might have on students living in dorms. If you want to have sex, you’ll get it somewhere else. Taking condoms on and off shelves isn’t the right way to deal with such issues.”


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