Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 4:22am

The University of Alabama has extended the contract of its head football coach, Nick Saban, in a way that boosts his annual pay by $550,000 a year and restores his status (at least for the moment) as the country's best-paid coach, the Associated Press reported. (Saban had been the best-paid coach when Alabama hired him in 2007, but he had since been passed up by others.) The new contract, which would keep Saban at the university until 2019, will pay him $5.32 million in 2013 in salary, benefits and what Alabama calls "talent fees," which include his contracts with apparel and media companies; that total will rise to $5.9 million by the end of the contract, AP reported.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 4:32am

Gov. Chris Christie's plan to restructure New Jersey's higher education system -- most notably (and controversially) by merging Rutgers University's Camden campus into Rowan University -- needs the approval of the state Legislature before it takes effect, an independent panel in the state declared Monday, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Christie had signaled a willingness to work around the legislature to push through the plan, which includes merging parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers. But the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, in a non-binding opinion obtained by The Star-Ledger, said the plan requires the approval of lawmakers.

In a related development, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to look into Christie's proposed restructuring of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Lautenberg's letter expressed concern that the plan was "crafted to benefit powerful political interests without regard for the impact on students."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The trustees of the University of Massachusetts on Monday selected Kumble R. Subbaswamy, provost of the University of Kentucky, as chancellor of the system's flagship campus in Amherst, which will have had four chancellors in a decade. The reign of the current chancellor, Robert C. Holub, went off the rails last spring when word leaked that a UMass panel had recommended that his contract not be renewed. Subbaswamy, a physicist, has been provost at Kentucky since 2006, and previously served as a dean at Indiana University at Bloomington and the University of Miami. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct Subbaswamy's academic discipline.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The National University of Singapore has revoked the scholarship of and imposed other punishments on a Chinese student who posted online comments saying that Singaporeans were "more dogs than humans," Asia One reported. The comment infuriated many in Singapore. The student -- who has apologized -- must pay a fine of $3,000 and do three months of community service to be eligible to graduate.

 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:00am

When Datatel and SunGard Higher Education merged last year, the two companies said that the combined venture would have a new name, but one wasn't ready. So the merged company has been called Datatel + SGHE. On Monday, the entity announced a new name: Ellucian. Michelle Reed, chief marketing officer, said in a statement that "Ellucian evokes the clarity and light that learning brings to life, aspects that we aspire to share in our relationships with institutions of higher, further and vocational education around the world."

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Since November's hazing-related death of a student in Florida A&M University's marching band, university officials have said repeatedly that they never tolerated hazing. But an Associated Press/Tallahassee Democrat project found that university officials received repeated reports -- including numerous detailed letters from parents -- about hazing in the band. One letter said of the letter writer's son: "After one month at FAMU he is broken, indecisive, sad, confused and he wants to come home.... My son will not quit school, you will not break him, I will see to that but FAMU has lost a hell of a young man and after this semester he will not be back. I pray that GOD will give the administration wisdom and courage to stand up against the stupid idiotic practices that go on [at] this FAMU campus."

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Seminole State College has expelled George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, setting off a debate over whether Florida has been too slow to charge Zimmerman in the shooting, WKMG News reported. College officials released a statement saying: "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment. This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman was enrolled in an associate in arts degree in general studies.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Academics at RMIT University, in Australia, are protesting new requirements that employees be "positive" and "optimistic," as well as "resolute" and "passionate," The Australian reported. These qualities are part of a new "behavioral capability framework" that officials said would result in a more productive environment on campus. But many employees say that they are being coerced into adopting certain attitudes, and that telling people what to think is antithetical to an academic environment.

 

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Students on many campuses held protests last week of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year old who was shot and killed in Florida. His killer has claimed self-defense and, to date, faces no charges, outraging many. Other campuses are planning protests this week.

The case -- seen by many as highlighting the discrimination faced by young black men -- has been the subject of particular discussion at historically black colleges and universities. More than 100 Livingstone College students held a protest Friday. Howard University students held a vigil. At Paul Quinn College, President Michael Sorrell invited students and others to attend a rally that attracted hundreds. Students at Winston-Salem State University also held a protest.

The protests and activities are by no means limited to historically black colleges. At the University of South Florida, black students organized a protest in which they sat with signs that demonstrated what Trayvon Martin had with him when he was shot. Signs said:

  • Hoodie. Check.
  • Package of Skittles. Check.
  • Drink. Check.
  • Black. Check.

Those statements were followed by the quote: "Hope I don’t get shot."

Western Michigan University students are planning a rally for today at which they are encouraging people to wear hoodies. A protest is also planned for today at Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

 

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

A psychologist warned Pennsylvania State University police in 1998 that Jerry Sandusky was a "likely pedophile" after she treated a young boy who described being hugged by the man now facing this charge in court, MSNBC reported. The psychologist came forward now, with the approval of the boy's family, amid the debate over Sandusky and whether Penn State did enough to protect children from him. In 1998, the police consulted with another psychologist, who said that there was no evidence of abuse. The new report is significant because it was a detailed complaint, four years before a graduate assistant says he saw Sandusky molesting a boy -- an incident that the graduate assistant reported. The psychologist told NBC that she was horrified to find so many other boys had experienced what her patient experienced. "There was very little doubt in my mind (Sandusky) … was a male predator, someone that was in the process of grooming a young man for abuse ," said the psychologist. "I thought … my report was strong enough to suggest that this was somebody who should be watched."

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