Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 29, 2013

A University of Wisconsin at Superior professor has voluntarily resigned, after reports surfaced this summer that he pleaded guilty and served prison time for attempted sexual abuse in another state more than 20 years ago, when he was a high school teacher. Matthew Faerber, a tenured professors of vocal music, was placed on paid leave in August after a newspaper in Utah, where he used to live, published a report detailing his past criminal record, involving two 13-year old students. The university announced that he voluntarily resigned, after a lengthy investigation into Faerber’s record, Northland’s News Center reported.

Faerber was hired by Superior in 1998, but the University of Wisconsin System did not introduce mandatory background checks for all employees until 2007.

Chancellor Renee Wachter said in a statement that Faerber -- whose status changed to unpaid leave earlier this month --  resigned "under terms of a separation agreement. We believe that this is a fair and reasonable resolution to a difficult situation, which serves the best interests of students and the entire UW-Superior community."

Faerber could not immediately be reached for comment.

October 29, 2013

Pennsylvania State University will pay $59.7 million in 26 settlements to victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, officials announced Monday. The settlement terms include a release of all claims against Penn State and other parties, and are subject to confidentiality agreements, a university statement says. The payouts should by covered by insurance and interest revenues from university loans, and no tuition money, taxpayer funds or donations will be used.

Six of 32 total claims remain, according to the statement. The university has rejected some as without merit, while the people who filed the others are engaged in settlement discussions. Jerry Sandusky, who is currently in Pennsylvania state prison, exploited his connections with Penn State football to rape and abuse young boys for years, sometimes on campus.

October 29, 2013

Berry College, a private institution in Georgia, announced Monday that it has settled (and won) a dispute with Tennessee. Berry sued Tennessee last year when the state tried to impose fees on the college because of two billboards that it put up. The state said that Berry was effectively operating a college in Tennessee. But Berry said that this was untrue, and that the college wasn't offering courses in the state (or even distance education). The college said the state was interfering with its right to simply recruit Tennessee students. Under the settlement, Berry said, Tennessee is waiving its rules based on Berry meeting similar standards in Georgia that Tennessee colleges must meet there. Officials of the Tennessee Higher Education Coordinating Board did not respond to email seeking comment.

 

October 29, 2013

Student protests blocking access to Kliment Ochridsky University, Bulgaria's largest university, have forced officials to suspend classes, the Associated Press reported. Students' grievances focus on the government, and university leaders have been urging them -- without success -- to let the university function.

 

October 29, 2013

Morgan State University is investigating charges that Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity rejected a student for being gay, The Baltimore Sun reported. The student cited social media messages by fraternity members that used an anti-gay slur.

 

October 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Inna Gaisler-Salomon of the University of Haifa reveals why stress may have a more far-reaching impact than previously believed. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 29, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is soliciting feedback for a new governance and competitive structure in large part because the biggest athletic departments want more leeway to spend money and grow their revenue-generating programs, football and men’s basketball. Naturally, one idea that has gained traction is a "super division" within or outside of Division I. But if they’re going to get it, a dozen associations for coaches of sports including volleyball, soccer, wrestling and swimming told NCAA leaders, those institutions should be required to raise the minimum number of sponsored sports from 16 to 24, and fund each one at at least 60 percent of the Division I financial aid limit.

“While it might seem counterintuitive to attempt to control expenditures by mandating growth,” coaches wrote in a letter to the Division I Board of Directors, which will hear ideas on restructuring before its quarterly meeting this week, “in this case it is one of few legal ways to achieve cost control. Prudent decision-making is built into the structure by funding requirements.”

The money athletic departments make off football and men’s basketball supports growth in those sports, but it also keeps the non-revenue programs represented by the coaches’ associations afloat.

“Mandating an increase in opportunity for and support of student-athletes in other sports financially links intercollegiate athletics at these institutions with their nonprofit mission while also leveling the funding disparities across Division I,” the letter says. The most elite programs have budgets about 50 percent bigger than the rest of Division I, hence the new sport minimum, the letter says. And 60 percent of the financial aid maximum lets institutions set priority sports while still supporting more athletes. The coaches also proposed developing a model within the NCAA governance structure that would  include coach associations beyond football and basketball on strategic planning, sport management and relationship coordination. Coach association leaders would be included as members or advisors to the various NCAA cabinets, councils and committees (such as rules and championships).

October 28, 2013

Peking University has issued an extended defense, in English, of its controversial decision to dismiss Xia Yeliang from the School of Economics The termination of Xia, a critic of the Chinese Communist Party, has widely been seen in the West as retribution for his political speech and has come at a time of an intensified crackdown on bloggers and activists who are critical of the government.

Peking’s statement says that this month's vote among faculty and school leaders not to renew Xia’s contract was the second such vote on this topic. The first, in 2012, resulted in 11 against renewal and 10 for, with one abstention. However, the university said it wanted to give Xia an opportunity to improve his performance and held a second vote this month, which resulted in 30 against renewal of his contract, 3 for, with one abstention. Xia’s contract will not be renewed when it expires in January.

“The reason that most members of the committee voted against the renewal of Xia Yeliang’s contract lies in the performance of his teaching and research,” the university's statement reads, in part. “With regard to his teaching, the result of annual teaching assessments since 2008 showed that he ranked lowest among the School faculties three times, the third lowest once, the fourth lowest once. His best performance was the sixth from the bottom twice. During the same period, more than 340 pieces of students’ complaints and criticism on his teaching were received, including a letter of request signed by over 20 students to demand replacing Xia Yeliang. Such a demand is extremely rare at Peking University. The students mostly complained about his digressive talks and excessive waste of time on materials irrelevant to the course. Some of the comments are sharp criticism, for example 'Please teach economics in class; don’t bullshit!' 'You put the cart before the horse.' 'Too much superficial digression.' 'His words are full of garbage.' "

The statement also says that Xia only published one paper in the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index from August 2008 to January 2013. The university said that Xia is untenured and that it has terminated 25 people upon expiration of their contact since 2008, including Xia.

A New York Times article, however, noted that Xia is the first professor to be dismissed from the economics department in more than a decade -- a fact that was confirmed by Peking officials. In an interview, Xia maintained that his dismissal was politically motivated -- he cited warnings from the university's Communist Party secretary regarding his online pro-democracy writings -- and defended his academic performance. He said that the 340 negative evaluations represent a fraction of the thousands of students he has taught and that his name had appeared in a number of publications since 2008.

“All such records are in their hands right now, so they can say whatever they want," Xia told the Times.

 

 

October 28, 2013

As the National Collegiate Athletic Association contemplates how it will redesign its governance and membership structure, some groups, including conference commissioners, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the Division I Faculty Athletics Representatives Board, have suggested or at least been open to the notion of the largest athletic programs forming their own division. That would allow more leniency in how they could recruit and provide financial aid to athletes.

But the group that represents FARs in all divisions, the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, wants Division I to stay intact. In a position statement obtained by Inside Higher Ed, the FARA Executive Committee argues that Division I institutions are committed to a group of core academic and athletic values and primarily compete against each other, so retaining the current division would be "the most practical option."

The FARA also wants the Division I Board of Directors to comprise a "small group" of university presidents (as it does currently) and CEOs "looking to position intercollegiate athletics through the changing and challenging landscape of American society." The group would not make policy but would set an overarching agenda and oversee NCAA leadership at lower levels. FARs, athletic directors, coaches, athletes and other stakeholders would have a say in policy development, and would be entitled to seats on the various boards, councils and committees that make rules.

October 28, 2013

Khan Academy last week released its first batch of videos to help students prepare for the revised version of the Medical College Admission Test, which will debut in 2015. The 150 videos were created by the winners of a student competition hosted this year in collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a public health organization. The videos have been fact-checked by the AAMC. New videos will be added to Khan Academy's MCAT page over the course of 2014.

Pages

Back to Top