Higher Education Quick Takes
Online teacher education is growing rapidly, according to an analysis published by USA Today. The newspaper found that four large universities (three of them for-profit) have become the largest teacher education institutions in the country, measured by degrees awarded. In the top spot is the University of Phoenix Online, which awarded 5,976 education degrees in 2011, up from 72 a decade before. The top four institutions awarded 1 in 16 bachelor's degree and post-graduate certificates in education in 2011, and 1 in 11 master's and doctoral degrees.
The University of Virginia announced Tuesday that the institution's chief operating officer, Michael Strine, has resigned after just over a year in the position. "Michael recently determined that it would be in the best interest of the University that he step down and allow me to do some necessary internal restructuring," said President Teresa Sullivan in a statement.
Strine, who came to U.Va. from Johns Hopkins University in July 2011, was a central figure in the drama surrounding Sullivan's resignation and reappointment in June, with sources close to the president saying that Strine met frequently with board members without informing Sullivan of the discussion and was highly critical of Sullivan's leadership. "Though it is hard to step aside, I am confident that this step helps the University and those it serves by allowing this Board and President the opportunity to pursue changes aimed at ensuring communication, accountability and shared governance," Strine said in a statement.
A federal judge was correct in a 2010 ruling that Quinnipiac University violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 when it attempted to replace volleyball with competitive cheerleading, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said Tuesday -- reaffirming that the latter cannot be counted as a varsity sport under Title IX, and that its athletes may not count toward gender equity requirements. Experts called the 2010 decision a “cautionary tale” for other colleges.
Competitive cheerleading doesn’t qualify under Title IX because it is run differently from other varsity sports; there was no off-campus recruiting, for instance, and no uniform rules for competition throughout the season. The court also noted that it is not yet recognized as a sport -- “or even an ‘emerging sport’ “ -- by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The University of Texas on Monday filed its brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the affirmative action case that will be heard this fall. Texas has prevailed in lower courts, but faces a strong challenge and a potentially skeptical Supreme Court. The brief stresses that the university believes that having a diverse student body is an educational issue. Diversity, the brief says, "better prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse work force and society." But the brief also takes care to say that the university does not define diversity solely by race and ethnicity. "UT has a broad vision of diversity, which looks to a wide variety of individual characteristics — including an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic, and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer, or internship experiences; leadership experiences; special artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity."
In today’s Academic Minute, Judyth Sassoon of the University of Bristol explains the discovery of a pliosaur fossil with signs of severe arthritis. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency, has ordered GoDaddy.com to take four university-branded Web domains out of the hands of a cyber-squatter who was allegedly using the sites to scam students out of cash. Mark "Omar" Quevillon, a resident of Cambridge, Mass., registered the domains Brandeis.me, Tufts.me, UVM.me and Babson.me in an alleged attempt to "sell" access to personalized apps to students, according to WIPO. But the websites have nothing to do with Babson College, the University of Vermont, and Tufts and Brandeis Universities. And so the universities jointly filed a complaint with WIPO, saying that Quevillon has been using their trademarked brands to confuse students and make a quick buck. Although WIPO is not a court, it is empowered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to resolve domain disputes and has the cooperation of domain registrants such as GoDaddy.com. Zick Rubin, a lawyer for the universities, said he does not know how much Quevillon is believed to have made from the scam. The phony websites are still live, but Rubin says GoDaddy.com has been instructed to take them down by Aug. 12 unless Quevillon fights the ruling.
A Pennsylvania State University trustee plans to appeal the severe punishment the National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed on the institution in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal, questioning whether the NCAA provided the university with due process and even whether Penn State's president had the authority to sign off on the penalties without getting approval from the university's full board, the Associated Press reported. The NCAA has asserted that it had clearance to impose the penalties on Penn State outside its normal enforcement and infractions process because of the outside investigation Penn State ordered and because Penn State consented to the penalties. But recent news reports have indicated that the board never formally approved Louis Freeh's external report and that many trustees were kept in the dark about the negotiations with the NCAA.
Fund raisers for schools, colleges and universities project that final numbers from the 2011-12 year will show a 4.9 percent gain in contributions, while 2012-13 will show a 5.9 percent gain, according to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In terms of projections for next year, public four-year institutions are projecting gains of 6.5 percent, while private four-year institutions and community colleges are both projecting gains of 6.1 percent. Private schools are projecting an increase of only 5.1 percent.
A former law student at the University of Virginia has pleaded guilty to breaking into the registrar's office in December to steal a request for his transcript, The Daily Progress reported. The man (at the time a student) had a summer internship offer, but had been told that the law firm would confirm what he had said about his grades with a transcript request. The student had reported a false grade-point average. The break-in, according to court documents, was not spur of the moment, but followed a period in which the student watched the registrar's office in person and with a camera to try to determine when the transcript request would arrive and how he would obtain it.