Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Thursday that it had imposed a one-year probation on East Carolina University but instituted no limitations on recruiting, scholarships or postseason competition for a major case of academic fraud in its athletics program. Unethical conduct in the form of academic fraud is among the most serious of NCAA violations, and instances of it have been on the rise. In East Carolina's case, a female tennis player who worked as a tutor for the athletics department wrote a total of 15 papers for four baseball players in the fall of 2009, and then two of the athletes lied to investigators about the violations.

Yet the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions, saying that individual students were entirely responsible for the violations and that East Carolina had "acted appropriately at all phases before and during the investigation," required only that the institution vacate victories in which the guilty athletes had participated. Not only did the university investigate the allegations aggressively, but it altered several policies and practices to avoid future breaches, the NCAA said. Two of the baseball players were declared ineligible through the 2010-11 season; the other two, and the women’s tennis player, were ruled permanently ineligible and removed from their respective teams. The case was adjudicated through the NCAA's summary disposition process, which is used when there is no dispute between the association and an institution over a case.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The business school at Columbia University -- which fares poorly in many analyses of the economic downturn -- has toughened its conflict-of-interest rules. Faculty members voted to require that they all maintain on their b-school webpages a listing of their outside activities so that any links they have to industries they analyze would be visible. Further, in cases where they or family members own at least 5 percent of a company related to their work, they must report that as well.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

In December, ProPublica published an article revealing that many medical schools that had adopted tough conflict-of-interest rules to limit or require reporting of professors' ties to the pharmaceutical industry weren't enforcing their rules. That report and other scrutiny may be having an impact. ProPublica reported Thursday that Stanford University has taken disciplinary action against five medical school faculty members who violated rules there by giving paid speeches for drug companies. The University of Colorado medical school this week toughened its conflict-of-interest rules -- joining other medical schools that have increased attention to these issues.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The for-profit school created by Donald Trump is under investigation by the New York State attorney general for possible illegal business practices, The New York Times reported. Students pay up to $35,000 for a course, and the attorney general's office has received "credible" complaints about the operation. The program was previously called Trump University, but the name was changed (to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative) following complaints that the institution was not a real university.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of New Haven's David Perry examines the historical similarities between Hillary Clinton and William Seward. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Many observers assumed that the shift away from federally guaranteed loans would deal a severe blow to Sallie Mae, but the company is bouncing back, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. By servicing older loans and moving into private lending, the company is having a strong 2011, with shares up 29 percent so far this year.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Students from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education have started a sit-in outside the dean's office to protest the recent tenure denial of Mark Warren, The Boston Globe reported. Warren, whose research focuses on community organizing in the schools, is seen by the students as the latest of a series of tenure denials or departures of professors who are focused on social justice issues.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, named a Tea Party activist to a student seat on the Texas A&M University Board of Regents, and bypassed the official system to do so, The Bryan/College Station Eagle reported. State regulations require the appointment of regents who applied through the student government, but Perry's choice applied directly to his office.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Association for College Admission Counseling has released "Best for Whom?" a report summarizing previously released surveys by the association on the skeptical attitudes of high school counselors and college admissions officers about the rankings of U.S. News & World Report. The report notes that both counselors and admissions officers see the rankings as highly questionable in value to prospective students, but influential nonetheless not only with applicants but with those making decisions at colleges.

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Florida has withdrawn its directive to students at its study abroad program in Italy not to socialize with the "Jersey Shore" cast filming in the area, MSNBC reported. “Generally speaking, students may participate in activities outside their study abroad program, as long as they meet the academic and living requirements of that program," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, a University of Chicago student has won funding for a one-day academic conference on "Jersey Shore," The Huffington Post reported. "I think it's very important for academics not to restrict their work to so-called 'high culture,' but to seriously engage with popular culture as well," said the student, David Showalter.

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