Butler University has agreed to resolve concerns about gender equity in athletics raised in a compliance review by the U.S. Department of Education. The university will either demonstrate that it is already meeting female athletic interests, or submit a plan to do so, under the agreement. The review found that Butler's student body is 59.6 percent female. In contrast, female athletes make up only 36.5 percent of Butler athletes, and women receive only 53.4 percent of athletic scholarships. The agreement with the Education Department "does not require or encourage the elimination of any university athletic teams and that it is seeking action from the university that does not involve the elimination of athletic opportunities. The agreement also states that nothing in the agreement requires Butler to cut the amounts of athletic scholarships it offers to either sex, and that any such cuts are discouraged," according to a department statement. (Note: The headline on this article has been changed to clarify that the review was not prompted by a complaint.)
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Maine System is investigating hiring procedures in the wake of reports of the hiring of seven officials with political connections and backgrounds to high-ranking positions in the system, in some cases with waivers from standard requirements for broad searches, The Bangor Daily News reported. Officials at the system said that they were not prepared to say at this time that any of the hires were inappropriate, but that they agreed that a thorough review was needed.
University of California administrators announced Thursday that the system will centralize payroll and human resources for its 10 campuses and five medical centers at a new site in Riverside. The new center is part of a system-wide initiative designed to save $500 million in administrative costs and direct them back toward the university's academic mission. UC officials said the new center would save "as much as $100 million annually" and create up to 600 jobs when fully deployed, which they hope to be within three years. Part of the savings will come from eliminated positions on the individual campuses, but officials would not say how many people would be losing their jobs.
At least 375 colleges have space available for fall 2012 enrollment of qualified freshmen or transfer students, according to this year's "space availability" survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. That represents a sharp increase over last year's figure of 279, and the prior year's 240. But there were several years starting in 2000 where the number of such colleges was over 330. The survey involves only four-year institutions. Of those reporting space available, 70 percent are private.
Prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against 13 people allegedly involved in the hazing death of the Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Eleven of the as-yet unnamed defendants face felony hazing charges, and prosecutors could file up to 20 more misdemeanor charges stemming from incidents involving different victims who were not seriously injured. Champion died after other students on the university’s famed marching band, long plagued by a culture of hazing, “punched, kicked and suffocated” him on a bus during a trip. Seven FAMU students have been charged in unrelated hazing incidents since Champion’s death. The state attorney said that in Champion’s case, he pursued only hazing charges because with the number of people involved, the burden of proof for homicide charges would have been difficult to meet. Even so, the Sentinel reported, the case could be difficult to prosecute because so many people were allegedly involved -- more than 20. Meanwhile, the university's own effort to address the hazing problem has run into obstacles, the Sentinel reported.
The California Faculty Association said Wednesday that its members had voted overwhelmingly to authorize two-day strikes at the 23 campuses of the California State University System if disputes with administrators over salaries and other issues are not resolved. Leaders of the CFA said that 95 percent of those who voted from April 21 to 27 endorsed the rolling strikes. The strikes, if they were to happen, would probably occur in the fall. The association represents about 24,000 faculty members, librarians, coaches and counselors in the Cal State system.
Contract negotiations have been under way for the last two years, and on Wednesday the association’s leaders called the process difficult and disappointing. The two sides are scheduled to resume negotiations this week. When talks ended without an agreement in April, Gail Brooks, CSU Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, said she was disappointed, but added that “CSU remains committed to the negotiation process as the best way to resolve the issues that remain on the table.” Brooks said at the time that the CFA’s proposal, if implemented, would cost CSU about $244 million over the next two years.
Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee announced Wednesday that he would veto a bill designed to require Vanderbilt University to abandon its anti-bias policies with regard to student religious groups, The Tennessean reported. Vanderbilt requires groups seeking recognition to have "all comers" policies, meaning that all students at the university are welcome to join and participate. Some religious groups say this endangers their ability to stay true to their beliefs, and sympathetic legislators passed the bill to require Vanderbilt to abandon its policy. Haslam said he would veto the bill, but not because he agrees with the university. "Although I disagree with Vanderbilt’s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution," he said.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has introduced five bachelor's degrees in science fields for which the price tag for students will total $10,000 for a four-year degree, The Midland Reporter-Telegram reported. The degrees fulfill a challenge by Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, to create $10,000 programs. Students in other programs at Permian Basin are charged about $25,000 for a four-year degree.