Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 8, 2013

Romantic undergraduate student-professor and undergraduate-staff relationships are now banned at the University of Connecticut. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new policy this week, The Hartford Courant reported. Graduate students also are prohibited from dating faculty in some cases where the relationship could be “exploitative,” such as when the student is a teaching assistant for the professor. Violation of the policy could result in termination of employment.

UConn had been working on drafting a policy for about a year, but its absence of a stance against such relationships came into focus in July following allegations that Robert Miller, professor of music at the Storrs campus, visited dorms and had sex with students. The allegations emerged during investigations by several law enforcement agencies and the university into separate allegations that Miller was a pedophile. Miller is on paid leave but barred from the university pending the ongoing investigations. No charges have been filed.

August 7, 2013

A former women’s head rowing coach at the University of California at San Diego gave six athletes prescription drugs on at least 24 occasions, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said Tuesday, announcing penalties stemming from unethical conduct and the university’s failure to monitor the program. Athletes also competed while ineligible, in some cases, with the knowledge and at the direction of coaches, the NCAA’s public infractions report says.

The former head coach also lied to NCAA investigators about having told athletes to compete and sign for meals under the names of “eligible student-athletes or other individuals.” The rowing team will get one year of probation, a $2,500 fine and vacation of women’s rowing results from 2010-12. The former head coach faces a three-year show cause order, making it difficult for her to be hired at another institution, and a former assistant coach who allowed an ineligible athlete to compete and then lied to investigators faces a one-year show cause order.

August 7, 2013

By September, Yale University will clarify what sort of scenarios it considers “nonconsensual sex” after a semi-annual incident report used the term in reference to "a range of behaviors that fall within the university's broad definition of sexual misconduct." The university will also post more information next week about sexual assault investigations and reporting procedures, the New Haven Register reported. Students found responsible for nonconsensual sex received punishments ranging from written reprimand (by far the most common) to mandatory counseling to a two-term suspension. A slew of criticism and accusations that Yale was watering down the issue and failing to properly punish students who committed sexual assault quickly followed the report’s release Friday. A federal investigation into Yale’s handling of sexual assault on campus ended a little over a year ago with a resolution agreement requiring the university to improve its policies, procedures and practices.

August 7, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Nick Royle of the University of Exeter asks if personality is genetically determined or learned. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 7, 2013

After an 18-month study on governance of college sports, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics said in a report that “changes are needed to restore integrity” to college sports.

Among its recommendations, the commission shot down the idea that a new division separate from the National Collegiate Athletic Association might be the next logical step. Instead, the report says, the NCAA’s top committees should include more athletics officials, former athletes and other individuals with experience in college sports -- and governance should not just be left to university presidents, as it is currently. Among the other recommendations are to dedicate a portion of the revenue from the impending college football playoff to support athletes’ educational experience, and revise revenue distribution to strengthen incentives for exceptional academic performance by athletes.

The report also suggests a few ideas “that merit further study,” including a new NCAA subdivision, for football only, for the five major conferences and other high-income programs -- an idea that has gained significant traction in the past few weeks thanks to comments and speculation by major conference commissioners. The commission also proposes a new financial framework that might impose spending limits or encourage limited spending, to create greater financial balance among institutions, as well as greater differentiation of structures among sports for things like conference membership and championship formats.

August 7, 2013

The University of Oslo has rejected the application of Anders Behring Breivik, a mass killer, to study political science, AFP reported. Breivik, a right wing extremist, is in jail for his 2011 attacks that killed 77. Norway encourages prisoners to seek education (typically through distance programs) and Breivik's prison had no problem with his applying to enroll remotely. But word of the application set off a debate at the university, with some faculty members saying that they would refuse to teach him. The university said that it evaluated the application under normal procedures and rejected Breivik because he had not finished his high school degree.

 

August 6, 2013

Minority faculty members at community colleges feel marginalized and "subordinated" to white faculty members, according to new research from the University of California at Riverside. Despite these frustrations, minority faculty members are deeply committed to the missions of their institutions and to their students, the study found. Researchers based their findings on interviews with faculty members at four community colleges in California. The report calls on community colleges to hire more minority faculty members. The study notes that while more than half of the students at community colleges in California are from under-represented minority groups, only 30 percent of faculty members are from under-represented minority groups.

 

August 6, 2013

Kaplan Inc., now makes up a larger portion of the Washington Post Company, which Monday announced the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Kaplan -- which includes Kaplan University, a test preparation division and other affiliates -- brought in $548 million of the Washington Post Company's $1 billion in revenue for the second quarter of this year, according to a corporate filing. While Kaplan's revenue was down slightly compared to last year, its operating revenue improved. Revenue for the newspaper division, which has been battered by circulation declines, was $138 million for the quarter. Its operating loss for the first six months of 2013 was $49 million.

August 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ricardo Ainslie of the University of Texas at Austin explores the social and economic factors behind recent violence in a Mexican border town. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 6, 2013

A U.S. Senate panel last weekend passed a rider to the defense appropriations bill that would count federal spending on tuition assistance for members of the military and their spouses toward a threshold that requires for-profit colleges to receive less than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. Military tuition spending, as well as funds from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, currently do not count as federal money under the so-call "90/10" rule. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and critic of the for-profit sector, introduced the legislation, which also prohibits for-profits from spending money from military tuition assistance on marketing or advertising.

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