Higher Education Quick Takes
Viruses on computers at City College of San Francisco have sent personal banking and other information from thousands of faculty members, administrators and others to hackers with ties to Russian and Chinese criminal networks for as long as a decade, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Campus officials identified the breaches weeks ago and are working to eliminate them. No cases of identity theft have been cited yet, though, the newspaper reported.
Education researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have been conducting interviews with tenure-track fathers about the pressures they face balancing work and family responsibilities. The findings, published in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity, are that these men experience conflict and stress, and that many feel that parenting responsibilities aren't factored into the expectations they face from their departments.
Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, got himself in trouble Wednesday, when he compared the decentralized nature of university governance to the Polish army. In a speech in Columbus, he said, “When we had these 18 colleges all kind of floating around, they were kind of like PT Boats, they were shooting each other. It was kind of like the Polish army or something. I have no idea what it was," according to an Associated Press account. In the past, Gee has raised money for groups that he has offended, and he suggested that he may have to do the same here, saying, "I’ll have to raise money for Poland now."
More than 100 American medical schools have agreed to work with the Obama administration to ensure that the country's doctors are trained to meet the "unique health care needs of the military and veterans communities," the two major groups that represent them announced Wednesday. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges cited the medical and psychological problems that plague military service members and veterans and their family members, and said they and their members would take a series of steps to ensure that medical school graduates are trained to recognize and treat health issues. The institutions also committed to stepping up their research into ailments and conditions that afflict the military. The announcement came as part of the administration's larger Joining Forces effort.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan made clear his displeasure with the National Collegiate Athletic Association at its annual convention Wednesday in a keynote address that, while ultimately conveying a message of encouragement, called out the organization for everything from sex abuse scandals to "New Testament"-length rulebooks. He chided institutions for their frantic conference realignment, which peaked this year as colleges sought multimillion-dollar TV deals or panicked about getting left behind. Duncan seemed astonished that even as institutional spending on athletes far outpaces spending on other students, none of the $20 million that colleges receive for playing in a Bowl Championship Series game goes toward academic purposes. He mocked the near-comical excess of the 426-page NCAA rulebook (giving a recruit a bagel is allowed, but add cream cheese and it's a violation), and lamented that a quarter of this year's BCS teams graduate fewer than half their athletes. All of the above (and let's not forget violations in recruiting and myriad other rules) have combined, Duncan said, to create a "disturbing" and "dangerous narrative" in the public that college sports lives in an insular world that's all about the money.
Duncan did commend the NCAA for its new academic reform measures, which set higher standards for athletic eligibility. "It seems clear that they are steps in the right direction," he said. "Raising the bar is always the right way to go.... Keep going, and please, please, resist the temptation to tinker or temper with your core principles." It will come down to courageous leaders, he said: while addressing these issues may be a political challenge, "This does not take a Nobel Laureate to solve."
Asked whether all this was even the NCAA's problem, Duncan (before answering in the affirmative) even got in a dig at the legislature. "If any of us are looking for Congress to solve this," he said, "good luck."
Rodney Erickson, the new president of Pennsylvania State University, pledged to alumni Wednesday that the institution eventually would honor Joe Paterno, who was fired as football coach in November amid a scandal over Penn State's handling of child sex abuse charges against one of his top assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky. USA Today reported that Erickson, speaking to hundreds of alumni at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, said: "There is no plan in place at the present time, but there will be. I can't tell you yet what it will be or when it will be, but we will publicly honor Joe and his wife, Sue, for all the many things they have done for the university, both from an athletic standpoint and an academic standpoint."
The meeting was the first of several in which the university is trying to repair its relations with alumni frustrated over the scandal. A Reuters account of the meeting said that many alumni criticized the university for not being more open about its response to the scandal, and many also questioned why Paterno was fired. Erickson pledged to be more transparent. He said that the university spent $360,000 on crisis communications during November.
An independent panel has found numerous management problems in the massive building campaign by the Los Angeles Community College District, The Los Angeles Times reported. The newspaper drew attention to the problems in a series of articles last year -- the findings of which were initially disputed by the district. But the independent review has found many of the problems identified by the newspaper -- problems that led to numerous cost overruns and delays.
Connecticut officials have announced the elimination of 24 senior-level jobs in higher education, positions that are being eliminated as a result of a merger of the state's community college and state university systems, The Hartford Courant reported. The jobs are generally high level administrative jobs, not faculty jobs. The average salary for the eliminated positions: $141,000.
The Georgia Board of Regents on Tuesday approved a plan to merge 8 of the 35 institutions in the University System of Georgia. The consolidations of four pairs of colleges will take 12 to 18 months, said the system's relatively new chancellor, Henry (Hank) Huckaby. The system hopes to increase academic offerings and cut back on administrative costs with the mergers. Some jobs will be eliminated.