Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 4:32am

Syracuse University's firing Sunday of an assistant basketball coach accused of abusing three boys may not end the institution's legal problems, reported The New York Times. The article noted that the third allegation against Bernie Fine, the fired coach who has denied wrongdoing, falls within the statute of limitations -- unlike the first two charges. If Syracuse is sued for failing to take action earlier, the article noted that as a private institution it cannot invoke sovereign immunity that might be used by Pennsylvania State University to try to limit its liability in the sex-abuse scandal it faces. While Syracuse investigated an allegation against Fine in 2005 and said it could not find corroborating evidence, the Times article suggested that this may not help the university. First, the article quoted a legal expert as saying that corroboration frequently doesn't exist in rape or abuse cases. (The charges at Penn State are unusual in that they include witnesses to some instances of the abuse.) Second, the article noted that -- until Sunday -- Jim Boeheim, the head basketball coach, had been a strong supporter of Fine against the charges. “I think the university could have enormous liability, including Boeheim, who was in a supervisory capacity,” one lawyer told the newspaper. “It comes down to who knew what, or who should have known. And you have to ask, because Boeheim’s defense of Fine was so complete after the initial allegations, would he have been at all open to look into anything suspicious?”

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 4:33am

"Violin Concertom," a piece by Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen was Sunday named the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Salonen is principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra of London.

 

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The three American students who were arrested last week during protests in Egypt are now back in the United States, the Associated Press reported. Egyptian authorities accused the students of throwing firebombs from the roofs of buildings. But the students said that they never were on any rooftops, never threw anything and never harmed anyone. The three Americans were in study abroad programs at American University in Cairo. "I was not sure I was going to live," said Derrik Sweeney, a Georgetown University student, after arriving back in the United States.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Georgia has found that Paul Roman, a sociologist at the university, violated anti-harassment policies, and ordered him to abide by specific rules, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. The university found that Roman made many comments of a sexual nature that made women uncomfortable in his presence, and that he retaliated against a female employee who filed a complaint against him. Roman has been ordered to hold meetings with staff members only when scheduled and with an agenda distributed in advance, barred from sending employees e-mail messages that are not strictly professional in nature, and barred from making personnel decisions on his own about employees he supervises. Roman has denied the charges, and appealed the findings, but his appeal was denied by the university's president.

Roman's title is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, and this year he was also named a Regents Professor, which is one of the University System of Georgia’s highest honors, and which came with a $10,000 raise.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

An Illinois appeals court last week granted a stay to the University of Illinois at Chicago of the certification of a new faculty union at the institution. The university is challenging the right of the union -- which is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors -- to represent both adjuncts and tenure-track faculty members. In October, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejected the university's argument and certified the union, but the university appealed and also asked for both a stay of union certification and expedited review of the case. University officials said that they expected a ruling on the case in the spring.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

As of Friday, the Occupy movement was no longer occupying any space at the New School. For a week prior, Occupy supporters from the New School and other colleges were protesting (and sometimes sleeping) in a study center at one New School facility. University officials said that the landlord to the building (which is not owned by the New School) was concerned about the students sleeping there, and that New York City Fire Department officials said that the occupation was producing a fire hazard. Blogs also started to detail the spraying of graffiti in the study center (which in what may be an irony was created in response to the demands of a student protest a year ago about inadequate study space). The New School then told the Occupy movement supporters that they had to leave the study center, but that they could occupy an art gallery of the New School, and could stay there 24 hours a day through the end of the semester -- provided that only students were admitted to the gallery (although the students need not be New School students) and that people not sleep there. By Friday, the study center was empty; workers are cleaning and painting it so it can open on Monday. The initial move to the art gallery did not go according to the New School's plans, as some protesters slept there and others used the wall for graffiti. So the protesters were asked to leave and the New School is cleaning and repainting and planning to turn the gallery over to the Occupy protesters on Monday, provided that the terms are followed.

The movement, now dispersed, has not issued any statements on its departure from the protest spaces. New School officials said that everyone eventually left without police intervention or arrests. A statement on the blog kept during the occupation of the study center said that those there were concerned that "the pigs of the NYPD are preparing to attack our space," and also criticized the New School. "New School administration, despite their mealy-mouthed lip service to the movement, has decided to side with the banks, landlords, millionaire university trustees, and whining conservative students who are all clamoring for this break in the miserable daily routine to end," the blog post said.

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Amid all the discussion of students with too much student loan debt, the Associated Press has run a story on the opposite problem: students who don't borrow enough. The article talks about students determined not to take out loans -- and the sorts of compromises they make (not buying textbooks, taking more credits that may be wise in a given semester) and the concerns of many educators that such students may be at risk of not finishing their degrees.

 

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department has sued the University of Nebraska at Kearney, charging that it illegally denied a student with a psychological disability the right to have an "emotional assistance dog" live in a residence hall room. The suit, which follows allegations brought last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, charges that the university asks too much information of students with emotional or psychological or emotional disabilities and -- in the case of the request for the dog -- was too stringent in barring the animal from a dormitory. A university spokesman said he couldn't comment on the case except to say that the university will contest the suit. The Associated Press quoted an e-mail message from the university's compliance director for the Americans With Disabilities Act (cited in the suit), that says that if the student's request had been granted, "in essence, anyone can have their doctor say they are anxious and need to have their cat, dog, snake or monkey."

 

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 4:27am

The father of Bradley Ginsburg, who as a freshman at Cornell University killed himself by jumping off a gorge bridge in the fall of 2010, is suing the university for $180 million, The Sun Sentinel reported. The suit says that Cornell should have informed parents about the start of what would be a string of student suicides so they could be more active in dealing with any mental health issues their students were experiencing. The suit also charges that the university -- which now has barriers on the gorge bridges -- should have had them there previously. The Ithaca Journal quoted a Cornell spokeswoman as declining to comment on the suit except to predict its dismissal.

 

Monday, November 28, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeffrey Green of the University of Pennsylvania explains the specific actions that define political charisma. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.


 

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