Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 10, 2014

Iowa State President Steven Leath on Wednesday announced that he was calling off the rest of Veishea, an annual, multiday student celebration, after incidents this week. Students clashed with security officers and damaged property. At least one student has been injured.

April 10, 2014

Americans care (sort of) about what politicians think about supporting medical research, according to a new poll by Research!America, which promotes medical research. Two-thirds of Americans said that it is important for candidates running for office to place a high priority on funding medical research. However, only 12 percent said that they were very well informed about the views of their senators and representative.

 

April 10, 2014

As expected, Northwestern University on Wednesday filed a brief asking the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington to review a regional NLRB decision that football players are employees of the institution and should be allowed to unionize. “Northwestern presented overwhelming evidence establishing that its athletic program is fully integrated with its academic mission, and that it treats its athletes as students first,” the brief says. “Based on the testimony of a single player, the regional director described Northwestern’s football program in a way that is unrecognizable from the evidence actually presented at the hearing.”

The brief notes that Northwestern awards four-year athletic scholarships (optional and uncommon, under NCAA rules, which allow one-year renewable ones), and provides primary or secondary medical coverage for all athletes for up to a year after their eligibility expires. The brief also says the majority of rules that athletes must follow (regarding things like hazing, academic dishonesty and drug use) apply to the student body at large.

The athletes’ secret ballot vote to unionize under the College Athletes Players Association is scheduled for April 25, but could be delayed if the full NLRB issues a stay on the regional decision.

April 10, 2014

While Brandeis University was facing criticism for planning to award an honorary doctorate to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she remained largely silent and she didn't immediately respond when the university announced Tuesday that it was abandoning plans to award the degree, amid concerns about her public criticism of Islam. On Wednesday, however, she released a statement denouncing Brandeis and, in particular, its assertion that it was unaware of some of her past statements when it decided to honor her. "[M]y critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree," Ali said. "What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The 'spirit of free expression' referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced."

April 10, 2014

The state may get to keep the money from a $60 million fine the National Collegiate Athletic Association levied against Pennsylvania State University after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but it’s still not a sure thing, PennLive.com reported. The NCAA had ordered that the money go to child protection funds across the country, but two state legislators later sued the NCAA and passed an “Endowment Act” that required fines against any state-supported college to stay in Pennsylvania if they surpassed $10 million. The NCAA objected to the law in court (its motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied), saying it was created specifically to foil the association. The Commonwealth Court has now said the law is allowable, but declined to end the lawsuit outright, instead asking for more argument on the case.

April 10, 2014

A new poll of undergraduates by Steelcase Education being released today has found that when asked about locations on campus that influenced their decision to enroll, 51 percent cited classrooms, while only 42 percent cited student centers or extracurricular places. Further, 38 percent of students said they valued study places, and 36 percent said that they valued libraries. The findings challenge conventional wisdom that students are judging campuses primarily by their leisure and recreational facilities.

April 10, 2014

College sports had another first Wednesday, with Derrick Gordon of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst becoming the first openly gay man on a Division I men's basketball team. Gordon, a sophomore, told his story to ESPN and Outsports.

April 10, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Phillip Ko, a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, discusses his work on the sharpness of memory in order to better understand the aging of the brain, memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer's. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 10, 2014

Students at Washington University in St. Louis on Tuesday started an outdoor sit-in, pledging to camp out on campus until the university cuts ties to Peabody Energy, a coal company. The company's CEO, Greg Boyce, has been a donor and serves on the board. Further, the students object to research that they say falsely suggests that the environmental issues associated with the use of coal can be minimized. They are vowing to continue their protest until the university position changes.

The university issued a statement affirming the right of the students to protest, but defending research related to coal. "Washington University ... is a significant contributor to finding solutions to the world¹s energy challenges. Our researchers are focused on making alternative energy sources more viable," the statement says. "Our researchers also are focused on mitigating the environmental impact of the use of coal, including approaches to capturing and storing carbon dioxide that accompanies combustion of any fossil fuel. It is this dual approach that will allow us to address the greatest global issues of this century. As a world-class research university, Washington University not only has the potential, but the responsibility, to participate in finding those solutions."

April 9, 2014

South Carolina officials have determined that South Carolina State University diverted $6.5 million in funds intended for low-income families to deal with cash flow issues, The State reported. A state report characterized the shift in funds not as fraud but as "a pattern of mismanagement." The university issued a statement asserting that it had changed its policies so this diversion of funds would not continue.

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