Higher Education Quick Takes
Just three months after Susan Hockfield announced her plans to retire as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT's board said Tuesday that it had hired Provost L. Rafael Reif to succeed her. The remarkably quick (for major research universities) succession came about not for a lack of candidates -- MIT considered more than 100, said its board chairman, John S. Reed -- but because Reif emerged so clearly as a "uniquely qualified candidate," Reed said. Reif was centrally involved in many of the institute's most innovative efforts in his seven years as provost, including the creation of MITx and its recent expansion, with Harvard University, into EdX. “I cannot tell you that this is a dream come true,” Reif told reporters after his selection, “because this is a dream I never dared to imagine.”
College athletes in contact sports such as football and ice hockey were more likely than peers in non-contact sports to perform worse than expected on tests measuring the ability to absorb new learning, according to a study published this week in the journal Neurology. The study, by Thomas McAllister of Dartmouth College's medical school, did not find differences in test results between the two groups of athletes at the beginning of the season, suggesting that head impacts from previous seasons did not appear to diminish thinking and memory skills in contact-sport athletes.
But where just 4 percent of the athletes in non-contact sports (such as crew, track, and skiing) performed worse than expected on the test of new learning after their playing season, 22 percent of contact-sport athletes did. (Players who had suffered concussions were excluded from the study.) Concerns about cognitive impairment due to head impacts has been escalating, most notably in football and most intensely at the professional and high school levels.
- Tracy W. Barlok, associate vice president for advancement at Skidmore College, in New York, has been selected as vice president for development and alumni relations at College of the Holy Cross, in Massachusetts.
- David Markwardt, assistant professor of zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University, has been promoted to associate professor of zoology there.
- John J. McCarthy, distinguished professor and special assistant to the provost at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been promoted to vice provost for graduate education and graduate school dean there.
- Jeremy Ryan, director of development at Anthem Worldwide, has been named vice president of digital services at Lipman Hearne.
- Robert A. Schapiro, interim dean and professor of law at Emory University School of Law, in Georgia, has been appointed as Dean and Asa Griggs Candler professor there.
- Mary Todd, founding dean of the honors college at Marshall University, in West Virginia, has been chosen as executive director of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, in Louisiana.
- Ed Weis, dean of the business division at Molloy College, in New York, has been named dean of the School of Business at Mercy College, also in New York.
People with higher degree attainment and their families have healthier lives, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the findings:
- In 2007-2010 in households where the head of household had less than a high school education, 24 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls were obese. In households where the head had a bachelor’s degree or higher, 11 percent for males aged 2-19 years and 7 percent for females were obese.
- In 2007-2010, women 25 years of age and over with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent - 43 percent) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25 percent).
- In 2010, 31 percent of adults 25-64 years of age with a high school diploma or less education were smokers, compared with 24 percent of adults with some college and 9 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Between 1996-2006, the gap in life expectancy at age 25 between those with less than a high school education and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 1.9 years for men and 2.8 years for women. On average in 2006, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 9.3 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Cuba's universities have cut enrollment by nearly 26 percent, The Miami Herald reported. The cuts are largely motivated by the country's need to cut spending. The programs seeing the largest cuts are in the social sciences.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cleared the University of Missouri at Kansas City of wrongdoing after a former adjunct instructor accused the college of inflating an athlete's grade over his objections.
In a letter UMKC provided Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, an NCAA investigator writes that no violations occurred, saying that the changing of the athlete's grade was done through a legitimate appeals process and without athletic department involvement. The grade change didn't affect the athlete's eligibility, the letter said. UMKC had denied wrongdoing from the start and said at the time that it would welcome an investigation.
In a written statement, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton praised the NCAA investigation and criticized the news media for reporting on the "unsubstantiated allegations made by a single disgruntled part-time instructor."
"The fact that it took the organization only four working days to investigate the matter and come to this conclusion speaks volumes about the utter lack of substance to these baseless allegations," Morton wrote.
Faculty members and librarians at Kean University voted no confidence in the university's Board of Trustees this week, with 94 percent of responding faculty members saying they had lost faith in the board. Professors have clashed with the university's president, Dawood Farahi, for several years. Tensions came to a head early this year when the faculty accused Farahi of including false information on his résumé. After an investigation in which lawyers hired by the board found that Farahi had falsified some of the statements on earlier résumés, the board voted seven to four to keep Farahi in place, a decision that further angered faculty members. Professors voted no confidence in Farahi in 2010.
Ada Morell, chair of the board, said in a statement that she was not surprised by the outcome of the vote, particularly because the faculty union is negotiating a new contract with the state. "Such votes are a common tool employed by labor leaders and part of the democratic process," she said.
The vote of no confidence in the trustees comes after outside groups have continued to find problems with the university. In spring 2011, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found that the university failed to comply with two of its standards: measuring student learning outcomes and institutional effectiveness. Since the board voted to keep Farahi in place, the commission found that the university is failing to comply with two additional standards: general education and institutional integrity, or adherence to ethical standards and stated policies. A report by the NCAA questioned the institution's control over its athletics department, particularly its women's basketball program.
The University of Texas at Austin's athletics department brought in upwards of $150 million in revenue in 2010-11, more than any other institution and nearly $19 million more than its closest competitor, Ohio State University. The latest annual update to USA Today’s mammoth database on revenue and expenses at institutions in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association notes that just 22 athletic departments are operating in the black. Spending across the 227 public universities for which USA Today could gather data rose by $267 million from a year earlier. (Athletic success at Texas will have some payoff for the institution's academic side, which for the next five years will collect half the profits from its 24-hour cable channel, the Longhorn Network. Last year that amounted to $6 million.) Other top revenue-generating programs include the Universities of Alabama ($124.5 million), Florida ($123.5 million) and Michigan ($122.7 million), as well as Pennsylvania State University ($116.1 million), the Universities of Tennessee ($104.4 million) and Oklahoma ($104.3 million), Auburn University ($104 million) and the University of Wisconsin ($96.3 million).