Higher Education Quick Takes
Outrage is growing at leaders of Pennsylvania State University -- and not only at those who are facing criminal charges over allegations of the sex abuse of young boys, and of university officials lying about it (charges denied by all involved). Petitions have appeared calling for the resignation of Graham Spanier as president of the university. This Wednesday, Spanier and his wife were to be honored at a Penn State fund-raising dinner, and organizers announced Monday that the Spaniers had requested that the event be postponed in light of the events of the last week, StateCollege.com reported.
Even as officials said that Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was not a target of a criminal investigation, calls came for his resignation or firing. A photograph sent on Twitter shows a sign -- since removed, according to other reports -- around a statute of Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium. The sign features a line from the Penn State alma mater -- "may no act of ours bring shame."
Federal officials on Monday froze expansion of the J-1 visa program that allows foreign college students to take summer jobs in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The freeze followed reports by the AP on complaints that many of those who come to the United States through the program have been exploited by employers.
The University of Illinois on Monday released the results of an outside investigation it commissioned on false statements made by its law school about applicants' grade-point averages and test scores -- and the university pointed a finger at one person as responsible. Paul Pless, formerly assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school, on the Urbana-Champaign campus, "knowingly and intentionally" miscalculated data, the report found. Pless has been on leave since an inquiry started into the statistics, and he resigned last week. The various changes Pless made in applicants' test scores and grades were designed to give the law school a better U.S. News & World Report ranking. (Pless could not be reached for comment.) The investigation found that changes Pless made took place after applicants had been evaluated, so admissions decisions were based on accurate information.
The presidents of public universities in Illinois have issued a joint letter opposing a pension reform plan that would give their faculty members -- and other state employees -- the option of paying more for current benefit levels, or of receiving smaller payments at various points in the future, The Pantagraph reported. "Reducing (faculty) benefits or forcing them to pay significantly more for benefits that were promised to them is likely to cause a significant migration of talented people out of this state," said the letter from the presidents. A spokeswoman for the legislator who came up with the plan said that "we encourage the university presidents and chancellors to tap into the talent at their universities and offer solutions, not just resistance."
A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court last week seems likely to hurt the fight by some student newspapers in Virginia to keep running alcohol advertisements, the Associated Press reported. The newspapers are fighting state regulations banning such ads, arguing that that many of the papers' readers are in fact of legal drinking age. A federal judge considering the case asked the Virginia Supreme Court to consider the definition in the state of a college newspaper. The court ruled that newspapers can still be considered college publications, even if a majority of readers are 21 and older, if the primary intended audience is younger.
Pennsylvania State University, its football program and two senior administrators are facing a growing scandal over allegations of sex abuse by the former defensive coordinator of the team. On Sunday night, the university announced the resignations of two senior officials implicated for allegedly not reporting the sex abuse and charged with lying about what they knew.
Pennsylvania authorities have charged Gerald Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator, with 40 counts related to alleged sexual abuse of young boys, including incidents that are said to have taken place on university grounds. Two other officials -- Tim Curley, the athletics director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business -- were charged with perjury (for allegedly lying about what they know about Sandusky) and for failing to report to authorities an incident that was reported to them. All three officials have denied wrongdoing.
A statement from Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said: "This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys. It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys."
On Saturday, Graham Spanier, president of Penn State, issued a statement that did not offer a view of the charges against Sandusky, but that strongly supported Curley and Schultz. "The allegations about a former coach are troubling, and it is appropriate that they be investigated thoroughly. Protecting children requires the utmost vigilance," Spanier said. "With regard to the other presentments, I wish to say that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have my unconditional support. I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years. I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former university employee. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz operate at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and compassion. I am confident the record will show that these charges are groundless and that they conducted themselves professionally and appropriately."
But on Sunday night, Penn State's board announced that Curley and Schultz would leave their positions to focus on defending themselves. Further, the board announced plans for an investigation into the university's policies and procedures for the protection of children. Steve Garban, chair of the board, released this statement: "The board, along with the entire Penn State family, is shocked and saddened by the allegations involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Under no circumstances does the university tolerate behavior that would put children at risk, and we are deeply troubled."
A female student at Frostburg State University died early Sunday after she was stabbed in the head by another female student in an off-campus residence, authorities said, The Washington Post reported. It is rare for students to be murdered, and killings by one female student of another are particularly rare. But this is the second incident this academic year at a Maryland public university in which one female student has been charged with killing another.
New data from the World Economic Forum show that gender gaps in higher education leave some countries (including the United States and many other developed nations) with female enrollments significantly outpacing male enrollments, while other countries face the opposite situation. The female-to-male enrollment ratio is highest in Qatar (6.31 to 1), followed by Bahamas (2.70 to 1), Maldives (2.40 to 1), Jamaica (2.22 to 1) and Barbados (2.18 to 1). The United States ratio is 1.40 to 1. On the other end of the scale are (in order of lopsidedness) Chad, Gambia, Benin, Ethiopia and Nepal (which range from 0.17 female students to 1 male student, to 0.40 to 1). The full report (which examines gender gap issue on a variety of economic and societal statistics) may be found here. The data on postsecondary enrollments are in Appendix D, Table D9.