The Pacific-10 Conference -- soon to be the Pac-12, with the addition of the Universities of Utah and Colorado at Boulder -- will start its own cable television network next year, according to an article Tuesday in The New York Times. It also notes that, on Wednesday, the conference will announce it has a new agreement with Fox and ESPN worth $3 billion over 12 years to broadcast “most of its marquee football and basketball games.” The television deal is the richest ever for an athletic conference. Unlike some previous agreements, this one will give the Pac-10 complete ownership of its network. The article notes that Fox owns 49 percent of the Big Ten channel and ESPN owns all of the Longhorn Network, a recently announced venture focusing entirely on the University of Texas at Austin.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Faculty Senate of the College of Charleston held a special meeting Tuesday to vote to condemn George Benson, the president, for reversing a tenure denial, The Post and Courier reported. The professor who was denied tenure before Benson's intervention, and who had started a grievance process, is married to the president's chief of staff. Faculty leaders acknowledged that the president has the right to reverse tenure decisions. But they said that doing so without letting the grievance process run its course or consulting with faculty leaders undermined their role. Benson said that, in the future, he would not reverse a tenure decision before the end of the grievance process.
The Shalem Center, a research and education center in Jerusalem, on Tuesday announced a $12.5 million gift that designated for an effort to create a liberal arts college, which would be Israel's first. Israel has many liberal arts programs within larger universities and many vocational programs, but officials said that they saw a need for the equivalent to an American-style liberal arts college.
A memo of ideas from the chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents has angered many politicians as well as faculty and student leaders. The month-old memo of ideas from Gene Powell was obtained by The Austin American-Statesman. Among other things, the memo suggests that undergraduate enrollment at the flagship campus at Austin be increased by 10 percent a year for four years, and that tuition throughout the UT system be cut in half. Reaction was speedy and negative, with many -- including a leading state senator -- saying that at a time when the university is facing budget cuts, putting these ideas into practice would erode the quality of the university.
The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh has taken unspecified "corrective action" against Stephen Richards, a criminal justice professor, for encouraging students to sign a petition to recall a state senator, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Anger over legislation to strip most state employees -- including those at public colleges and universities -- of their collective bargaining rights has led to recall campaigns against a number of legislators. A student recorded Richards and turned over the material to Republican Party officials. Richards isn't returning calls seeking comment. The Oshkosh chancellor, Richard Wells, issued a statement noting that the university respects academic freedom, but "Professor Stephen Richards’ classroom comments of March 7 clearly crossed the line into inappropriate political activity."
It's now complete: all five of the varsity teams that the University of California at Berkeley planned to kill or downgrade for financial reasons will now survive for the foreseeable future. The university announced last fall that it would eliminate four teams (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse) and change the status of rugby so that it was no longer a full-fledged varsity team. But in February, Berkeley said that alumni had raised enough money to restore rugby, women's gymnastics and lacrosse. A similar announcement about baseball came last month, and Monday, the university said that it had raised $2.5 million for gymnastics -- enough to keep the program alive for at least seven years with some budget cuts.
A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews, The Seattle Times reported. The study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering -- students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles.
The Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison voted Monday to support the proposal backed by Chancellor Biddy Martin and Gov. Scott Walker that would give the university "public authority" status and split it from the rest of the Wisconsin university system, The Capital Times reported. The vote came on the same day that a cadre of Madison professors came out against the proposal, which they said would undermine the university's support for low- and middle-income students.
The U.S. Justice Department has decided to intervene in a lawsuit alleging that Education Management Corp. violated federal law barring incentive compensation for recruiters, the company announced Monday. Qui tam lawsuits, as they are known, are filed under the federal False Claims Act by an individual who believes he or she has identified fraud committed against the federal government, and who sues hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice Department. Interventions by the Justice Department, which in this instance came in a case filed in a Pennsylvania federal court, are rare, though. Education Management, which operates the Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University, among others, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expected several states to join the qui tam action alleging violations of their state False Claims Acts, too.