James Tracy, a communication professor at Florida Atlantic University who writes about conspiracies is raising eyebrows by suggesting that the Newtown killings did not take place as reported, and that the Obama administration and others may be shaping the way the massacre has been portrayed in the press, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. The newspaper reported that in one blog post, he wrote, "While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation's news media have described." The university has distanced itself from Tracy, telling the Sun-Sentinel that "James Tracy does not speak for the university. The website on which his post appeared is not affiliated with FAU in any way."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Gallaudet University has reinstated Angela McCaskill, the institution's chief diversity officer, who was suspended for signing a petition against the recognition of gay marriage by Maryland, the Associated Press reported. The university announced the reinstatement, but did not elaborate or respond to requests for comment. Some advocates for gay rights applauded the suspension, saying that universities cannot promote equity for gay students and employees while having their diversity efforts led by people who believe that gay people should be denied rights available to straight people. But critics said that the university was inappropriately punishing McCaskill for expressing political views.
Scientists in China are calling for reforms of the system of distributing funds for research, China Daily reported. Government officials and university administrators now make some of the decisions about which projects should be funded. Scientists want senior scholars to play more of a role, since they understand the potential of various projects seeking funding.
In Wisconsin, the average faculty member at the state's technical college system earned more in 2011-12 than the average faculty member at the state's university system, according to an analysis by Gannett Wisconsin Media. The reason is "overages," pay that faculty members in the state for teaching more than the required number of courses. Overage pay averaged $12,000 per technical college faculty member, compared to $1,400 for University of Wisconsin professor. And 67 technical college instructors earned more than $50,000 in overage pay.
The University of Iowa has hired a lawyer to defend two medical school officials (one of whom has since left the university) who are facing charged in Jordan, despite never having traveled there, the Associated Press reported. The two are charged with making a death threat to Malik Juweid, who was fired by the university last year and returned to his native Jordan. An Iowa spokesman said that the charges were baseless.
Bev Kearney has resigned as women's track and field coach at the University of Texas at Austin following an investigation into what she called a “consensual intimate relationship” with "an adult student-athlete." The Austin American-Statesman reported. The relationship took place in 2002, but was only recently reported to the university. In an interview with the Austin newspaper, Kearney said that she "displayed poor judgment," but questioned the way the university has investigated what happened. Her lawyer told the newspaper: "We believe that Ms. Kearney has been subjected to a double standard and has received far harsher punishment than that being given to her male counter-parts who have engaged in similar conduct."
Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at UT, told the American-Statesman, “In the case of a head coach and a student-athlete on his or her team, the university’s position is that that cannot be condoned in any event. ‘It can’t happen’ is what the university’s position is on that.”
Since 1993, Kearney's teams at Texas have won six national championships.
In a white paper released today, the Institute for Higher Education Policy calls for several changes to the financial aid system, part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, which gave grants to organizations to recommend what changes they would make to federal financial aid. The institute calls for making the Pell Grant an entitlement and keeping it at the center of need-based student aid programs, but making larger changes to other student aid programs. Among its suggestions: reforming the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant to provide "emergency" financial aid to students; rewarding completion, including a form of loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients who complete college on time; tying campus-based aid to student debt repayment levels; matching college savings for low-income households and encouraging employers to match employees' student loan repayments for the first five years after graduation.
Several more papers in the Gates effort are expected from other organizations and advocacy groups in the coming weeks.
The financial payoff of earning an M.B.A. appears to be shrinking. The Wall Street Journal reported that for M.B.A. graduates with up to three years of experience, median pay was $53,900 in 2012, down 4.6 percent from 2007-8. Average salaries dropped for graduates of at 62 percent of the 186 business schools examined in an analysis by the Journal and PayScale.com.
Hamline University has suspended its head basketball coach, dismissed a player from the basketball team and suspended 14 other players following an alleged assault of a woman after the team's game against Whitworth College, The Star Tribune reported. The player who was dismissed from the team (and suspended from the university) was charged with assaulting the woman. The university forfeited a game Saturday against Gustavus Adolphus College because of all of the suspensions.