Higher Education Quick Takes
The “academic, health and overall well-being” of athletes should be considered first and foremost as leaders of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences weigh potential changes in the structure of the college football postseason, the faculty athletics representatives of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I member institutions said in a statement sent Thursday to the commissioners and the Bowl Championship Series Presidential Oversight Committee. allie: this slight rewrite okay, to simplify a bit? dl
Citing research tying length of seasons and numbers of games to negative health and academic outcomes, the faculty representatives said the new postseason model, which commissioners are forming now and which will take effect in the 2013-14 season, must not: increase the current number of games individual teams play (now 12 to 14, depending on how far a team makes it in the postseason); extend beyond Jan. 9 (ideally, not beyond Jan. 1); or interfere with classes and exams.
But while a four-team playoff to replace the bowl system -- an idea with broad support that is likely to emerge from the discussions, recent reports say -- meets those criteria, it could lead to “slippery slope consequences” of too many teams, too many games and too long a postseason, the FARs said. They pointed to the Division I men’s basketball tournament as evidence.
“We know that this concern is shared by all of us, including university presidents and chancellors; conference commissioners; and directors of athletics,” the FARs wrote. “We also know that all of us are concerned with the academic, health, and overall well-being of our football student-athletes. We therefore urge that a critical component in evaluating different post-season models should be what research tells us regarding the factors that most negatively impact student-athlete academic performance and that most contribute to football student-athlete injuries and serious injuries.”
Students across the country made good on their word Thursday, coming out in droves to support the youth Occupy movement and advocate for affordable, accessible and democratic higher education. Frustrated by rising tuition and student debt, and their lack of influence on the system, students made major waves in the fall with rallies and protests reminiscent of Thursday’s nationally coordinated “Day of Action.” But things slowed down over the winter break, and Thursday was an attempt to get back into the national spotlight.
The most well-attended protests took place, as expected, in California and New York City, where several hundred students rallied. Students in the Washington, D.C., area also had a notable turnout for their march to Sallie Mae and the U.S. Education Department, and the University of Maryland occupation tweeted that Education Secretary Arne Duncan promised to respond to their list of demands within a week. Protesters in Alabama, Ohio and Texas were active on the Twitter streams. Students at DePaul University said they “seized” an administration office. Although police were on hand on many campuses and city streets, there appeared to be no major confrontations (unlike past rallies). One person drove a car through a group of about 150 students who blocked the entrance to the University of California at Santa Cruz campus, but nobody was seriously injured. Most classes had been canceled in light of the protests, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday announced the creation of a panel of college presidents and other higher education leaders to advise the agency on issues related to international student recruitment, research, and other matters. Agency officials said the establishment of the committee reflected its officials' desire to work with college and university leaders. The panel's members are:
- Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University
- Carrie L. Billy, president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium
- Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges
- David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island
- Royce C. Engstrom, president of the University of Montana
- Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
- Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges
- Jay Gogue, president of Auburn University
- Marlene M. Johnson, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- Eric W. Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota
- R. Bowen Loftin, president of Texas A&M University
- Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland at College Park
- Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College
- Ruby G. Moy, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific Islander American Association of Colleges and Universities
- Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the Association of American Universities
- John Sexton, president of New York University
- Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy
- Dianne Boardley Suber, president of Saint Augustine’s College
- Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tens of thousands of students held protests in Spain on Thursday to express anger over budget cuts to education, the Associated Press reported. In Barcelona, riot police charged the crowd, and some students fled to the University of Barcelona campus.
The state auditor's office in Texas has found numerous instances of public colleges and universities failing to follow federal rules for managing student aid, The Dallas Morning News reported. Ten institutions were found to be making incorrect calculations of the cost of attendance. Several institutions were found to award too much aid, or to fail to adequately monitor students' academic progress.
Private admissions counselors -- who work directly for applicants and their families -- are commonly associated with students finishing high school. But The New York Times reported that many counselors are seeing increased use (and are reaching out to) adults thinking about continuing their educations. Adults who worry about getting into the best program and may not have access to a high school counselor are interested in the one-on-one help available.
The University of Pennsylvania announced this week that its employee health plans would include an option that would cover sexual reassignment surgery for transgender employees. Covering such surgery is rare for higher education employers (and for many employers outside academe). The change was sought by student and employee groups at Penn.
- 2012 Annual Meeting, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, April 1-4, Philadelphia
- Education in a Changing World: What's Next? SCUP 2012 North Atlantic Regional Conference, Society for College and University Planning, April 11-13, New York
- NITLE Symposium: Inventing the Future, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, April 16-17, Arlington, Va.
- CIC Department and Division Chair Workshop, Council of Independent Colleges, May 22-24, Charleston, S.C.
- NEH Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers: Jane Austen and her Contemporaries, National Endowment for the Humanities, June 18-July 20, Columbia, Mo.
- 119th Annual Conference, American Society for Engineering Education, June 17-20, Vancouver, British Columbia
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar, to which campus and other officials can submit their own events. Our site also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education; please submit your news to both listings.
Smith College students and alumnae have come up with a creative response to an alumna's letter to The Sophian, the student newspaper, questioning efforts over the last decade to recruit more low-income and minority students. The letter (currently removed from the newspaper's website) suggested that the college has lowered its standards and abandoned a tradition in which wealthy students with "cashmere coats and pearls" were educated at the college and then went on to become wealthy donors. In response, Smith students have started posting their stories on a new blog called Pearls and Cashmere. Many of the women talk about how they do not fit the stereotypes of the past, and are proud of what Smith has become. Their stories stress that strong academics and diversity are by no means incompatible. And while the women pose in nontraditional ways for the photos that accompany their stories, many put on their pearls.
The letter that set off the fracas said that Smith attracts lesbians, low-income students and those who can't get into the Ivies. But the women who tell their stories on the blog -- white and minority, lesbian and straight -- talk about what they gained from enrolling at Smith, and at a more diverse Smith.
Birgitta Hendron from Washington state and Wiame El Bouhali from Morocco posted together: "Both of us applied to Smith early decision, both of us speak four languages (though not the same four), both of us are products of public school systems on two different continents. Without Smith, Wiame never would have had the chance to study the liberal arts (or build a tornado simulator). Without Smith, Birgitta never would have taken Russian -- the language that has become her passion. In addition to a world-class education and brilliant professors and peers, Smith has given us courage, perspective and confidence. It’s also given us each other -- not lesbians, not Ivy League rejects, but best friends."