Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Yale University fraternity that shouted “no means yes, yes means anal” during a pledge initiation last fall has been all but banned from the campus. For violating Yale’s undergraduate regulations on “harassment, coercion or intimidation” and “imperiling the integrity and values of the university community,” the campus chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is prohibited for five years from “conducting any fraternity activities on campus,” including recruiting, and from using Yale bulletin boards or e-mail to communicate with students. The sanctions also “severely limit its use of the Yale name in connection with the DKE organization.” The committee that issued the sanctions, which is charged with enforcing the undergraduate regulations, also formally recommended that the national fraternity organization suspend the chapter for five years.

Some students face additional punishments, but those are confidential under Yale and federal privacy laws. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said it is unusual to announce the committee's findings, but because the incident made a huge stir on the campus and attracted national attention, she sent a statement to all students and faculty of the college. The university itself is under federal investigation after a student complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, alleged a sexually hostile climate on campus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday that 909 teams have earned “public recognition awards” for their academic performance. These awards are given annually to teams that score in the top 10 percent in each sport using the Academic Progress Rate, an NCAA-developed score that shows how a team's athletes are faring with regard to academic eligibility to play and progress toward graduation. For the sixth year in a row, Yale University had the most teams recognized, with 23. By conference, the Ivy League had the highest number of teams honored, with 135. The next highest was the Patriot League, with 82. Four national champions from the 2009-10 season received “public recognition awards” for their academic performance: Duke University men’s basketball, Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s bowling, University of Michigan men’s gymnastics, and University of Denver women’s skiing. Full APR scores for all teams will be released May 24. Punishments for those teams with low scores will also be announced that day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

While many American colleges have created global outposts where local sponsors have paid big bucks for that to happen, Bard College has set up programs without such resources in numerous locations, without a hefty endowment. Today, the Open Society Foundation -- founded by George Soros and an organization that rarely donates to American higher education -- is announcing a $60 million gift to Bard to support the college's far-flung operations, The New York Times reported.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Representatives of the three faculty unions staked out their respective positions on student learning outcomes assessment in a new paper released by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. The report is being touted as the first time the three associations -- which represent some 450,000 members, many of whom are not assumed to embrace such assessments -- have gone on the record on the subject.

The three representatives -- Gary Rhoades of the American Association of University Professors, Larry Gold of the American Federation of Teachers and Mark Smith of the National Education Association -- each asserted the importance of involving faculty members on the local level in efforts to measure learning outcomes. They also warned against relying on the kinds of standardized tests that are used by states in judging K-12 schools for the federal No Child Left Behind Act, because higher education is an even more complex and diverse sector. "As inappropriate as these proposals are in K-12 education, they are even more inappropriate in higher education situations where the goal is not simply to learn content but also to develop critical thinking and interpretive skills," said Smith.

Rhoades argued that the extensive use of adjuncts undermines student achievement, and that a focus on productivity from policy-makers has hampered non-tenure track and tenured faculty members' ability to advise and provide mentorship that helps students -- who are increasingly demographically diverse. "The challenge is that producing better learning outcomes is an inherently labor intensive endeavor," he said.

Gold referred to the AFT's release last month of a policy statement on outcomes assessment and encouraged members to wade into an honest debate. "Genuine discussion of issues such as these has to begin with a willingness to 'hear a discouraging word,'" he said. "Front-line faculty and staff will not agree with every idea that comes down the pike, nor should they; but they and the AFT are strongly committed to engaging in constructive efforts to improve student success."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The attorney general's office in Massachusetts has asked the University of Phoenix for documents and information going back a decade as part of a larger review into "possible unfair or deceptive methods, acts, or practices by for-profit educational institutions in connection with the recruitment of students and the financing of education," the university's parent company announced Monday. In the statement, the Apollo Group said its officials believed that the review stemmed from a coordinated effort by several states "considering investigatory or other inquires into recruiting practices and the financing of education at proprietary educational institutions." The Huffington Post reported this month that as many as 10 attorneys general were cooperating to look into for-profit higher education.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The incumbent party that lost all its executive board seats in a bitter contest for the leadership of the union representing graduate students at nine University of California campuses says that the election was marred by so many allegations of impropriety that it must be done over.

"No matter who wins the election, it is critical that our members have confidence that the election process is fair and democratic," the group, United for Social and Economic Justice, wrote in a statement that is posted on its website. "And so it is with a profound sense of personal and professional obligation to the integrity of the union that we are protesting this election and requesting that it be set aside and re-run."

A request for comment from the winning party, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, was not returned as of press time. The race featured allegations of voter intimidation, ballot tampering and ad hominem attacks, and required mediation to resolve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

John O'Connor is taking a paid leave as president of the State University of New York Research Foundation amid allegations that he gave a no-show job to the daughter of the former president of the State Senate, the Associated Press reported. A state ethics commission found likely fault in the hire of the daughter of Joseph Bruno, who is currently appealing federal corruption convictions. O'Connor has said that he did nothing wrong and that the state commission's inquiry was flawed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked the Obama administration to weigh in with a brief on a request that the court overturn a Florida law barring travel by state university system professors to Cuba. The law was adopted by Florida lawmakers intent on distancing the state from Cuba, and an appeals court upheld the law as a justified education policy. But faculty members and civil liberties groups are challenging the law, arguing that it improperly has a state setting foreign policy. In other actions related to higher education, the court let stand an appeals court ruling dismissing a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by former faculty members against Chapman University, in California. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had dismissed the lawsuit after a 2009 Supreme Court decision that resolved a technical issue involving how False Claims Act cases could be appealed. The case, which involved how part-time students were educated, was seen as having potentially significant implications for higher education accreditation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

  • Patti Brown, associate dean for international programs at Franklin & Marshall College, in Pennsylvania, has been named director of special program initiatives at the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University.
  • Gretchen Cook-Anderson, senior public affairs officer, education and science division at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has been appointed director of diversity recruiting and advising at IES Abroad.
  • Richard E. Goodstein, interim dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities at Clemson University, in South Carolina, has been promoted to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Becky J. Hoover, interim co-director of human resources at the University of Akron, in Ohio, has been promoted to vice president for talent development & human resources there.
  • Christa Lee Olson, associate director of international initiatives at the American Council of Education, has been named vice provost for international programs and professor in the study of culture and society department at Drake University.
  • Nigel Stork, professor and head of resource management & geography at the University of Melbourne, in Australia, has been appointed as professor of environmental sciences at Griffith University, also in Australia.
  • Renée T. White, professor of sociology and black studies at Fairfield University, in Connecticut, has been selected as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Simmons College.
  • The appointments are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

    The Institute for a Competitive Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a report Monday that explored the potential for innovation in higher education, mostly in the for-profit sector, and what it sees as the barriers, including federal regulation, constrained state budgets and accreditation policies. The report, "College 2.0: Transforming Higher Education through Greater Innovation and Smarter Regulation," promotes for-profit colleges and partnerships as well as some nonprofit innovations as solutions to increasing productivity, effectiveness and cost-efficiency and reaching the goal of being the world's best-educated country by 2020. It singles out several new ventures as examples, including StraighterLine, the company that offers online courses at a low price, and Western Governors University, the online competency-based nonprofit that state university systems in Indiana and Washington have recently embraced.

    Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush who now serves as an adviser to the Chamber of Commerce, said the report, and an accompanying forum Monday, during which executives of for-profit colleges and others shared their thoughts on the role of for-profit institutions in innovation, were the beginning of an increased effort by the chamber to increase its visibility and activism on higher education issues.

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