Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 3:00am

California community colleges with the lowest student transfer rates to four-year colleges are "intensely segregated" or enroll high percentages of minority students, according to three new reports from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles, while a "handful" of two-year colleges that serve largely white, Asian or middle-class students are responsible for the majority of transfers in the state. The group's third report takes on California's master plan, and calls for some the state's top community colleges to be given the authority to grant bachelor degrees.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

McGill University, following a five-day sit-in in an administration building, announced new rules on where protests would and would not be tolerated, Maclean's reported. In the future, the administration announced, "occupations of private offices or spaces, classrooms, laboratories or libraries, or other restricted areas will not be tolerated. If any type of occupation occurs and the occupiers refuse to leave when requested to do so, civil authorities will be called." In the case of the most recent protest, the university waited five days to do that, but opted for steadily escalating pressure, including blocking wireless Internet and -- toward the end of the protest -- blocking access to the bathrooms.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge in Connecticut has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Yale University by Dongguk University, in South Korea, the Associated Press reported. Dongguk says that it suffered huge losses from a scandal that can be traced to Yale incorrectly confirming that a professor there had earned a doctorate at Yale. The South Korean university says that it lost millions in government grants and donations because of the scandal when the professor was said to have had a love affair with an aide to South Korea's president. Yale has denied wrongdoing in the case.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The presidents of 16 universities in what are now Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference announced Monday that they plan to create one league that would span 6,000 miles, include as many as two dozen sports programs, and be "built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship," they said. The presidents and chancellors met secretly in Dallas on Sunday and agreed to a plan not to stabilize their current conferences (which have been the targets of raids by several other leagues in recent months) but to create a merged league (beginning in 2013-14) that the presidents believe can go toe to toe with the other major sports conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The involved universities are Colorado State, East Carolina University, Fresno State, Marshall, Rice, and Tulane Universities; the U.S. Air Force Academy; and the Universities of Alabama at Birmingham, Hawai'i, Nevada at Las Vegas and Nevada at Reno, New Mexico, Southern Mississippi, Texas at El Paso, Tulsa and Wyoming.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The Association of Title IX Administrators, a group of officials charged with ensuring gender equity on campuses, issued a declaration of support Monday for the Office for Civil Rights’ controversial “dear colleague” letter that reiterated institutional responsibilities in responding to and preventing sexual assault. The declaration was co-authored by the Women's Sports Foundation.

The letter has drawn negative responses from general counsels and free speech groups, particularly for its clarification that, when considering complaints of harassment and assault, institutions need only apply a preponderance of evidence standard – meaning it’s “more likely than not” that the complaint has merit. While critics have worried the standard might lead a college’s judicial body to issue unwarranted punishments, the association called the standard “the only equitable choice under Title IX as it avoids the presumption, inherent in a higher standard of proof, that the word of a victim is less weighty than the word of an accused individual’s denial.”

The administrators praised the letter’s emphasis on equitable treatment for victims and accused students. Both parties are entitled to certain privileges – a campus advocate for the victim, for instance, or fair notice of the charges for the accused – that colleges have at times been criticized for violating.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 4:31am

The American Bar Association's House of Delegates has approved a resolution urging flexibility by the Law School Admission Council on requests for accommodations by people with disabilities when they take the Law School Admission Test. The resolution calls for information to be made available to test-takers on their options. Further, the resolution urges those involved in standardized testing not to differentiate between those who took the test with an accommodation and those who did not. While the resolution does not mention the council by name, the measure appears a clear reference to legal disputes the council has faced over requests from some test-takers for accommodations, and for those accommodations not to be "flagged" to law schools.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 4:36am

Pennsylvania State University on Monday published online details of $3.2 million in expenses related to the allegations that Jerry Sandusky -- formerly an assistant football coach -- sexually abused children, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The bills include legal fees, charges for an independent outside investigation and public relations work. Insurance will cover only a small part of the expenses, but Penn State officials said that the other bills would not be paid with state funds or tuition.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members lack a professional identity and a sense of self-worth, according to a new paper in the journal American Behavioral Scientist. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 18 full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members in English departments. “Right now, they have become like serfs – a labor force for tenure-track faculty,” said John S. Levin, who is the Bank of America Professor of Education Leadership at the University of California at Riverside. “That needs to change. Institutions need to take responsibility for these employees.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Barbara Gold of Hamilton College outlines the difference in how love is experienced today and how it was expressed by the writers of ancient Rome. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

A state audit released Friday revealed that Dickinson State University, in North Dakota, had awarded hundreds of degrees to Chinese students who did not complete required coursework and who in some cases may not have been able to do so, The Forum reported. The report described a campus that was so focused on attracting students that it cut corners to build its international enrollments. When the audit is shared with various authorities, Dickinson could face sanctions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (over visa issues), from the state (over enrollment figures) and from accreditors (over failure to assure educational quality). At a news briefing Friday, officials said that there was no one person or office responsible for the problems, but rather a series of inappropriate decisions involving the multicultural affairs, admissions and academic records offices, as well as a number of academic departments.

Briefings on campus about the audit were interrupted by reports that a university official, with a weapon, was missing. Later, Doug LaPlante, dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences, was found dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. The audit did not mention LaPlante by name, but officials said that many of the students who were awarded degrees inappropriately had been enrolled in the college he led.

No disciplinary actions were announced against anyone involved in the scandal, but officials told The Forum that Jon Brudvig had resigned as vice president for academic affairs, but would continue in another position.

The institution has been under scrutiny for months, starting with reports in August that it had listed about 180 people as enrolled who never were enrolled.

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