Higher Education Quick Takes
California legislators have affirmed in drafts of the state budget that the University of California may not spend state funds on athletics. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the move followed a request by the university to ease a previous ban. University officials said that they made the request for bookkeeping reasons, and not out of any desire to spend state funds on athletics. But after Brian Barsky, a computer science professor at the Berkeley campus, noticed and criticized the request, lawmakers explicitly banned any state spending on athletics.
The Nassau Community College Academic Senate voted last week to declare its lack of confidence in President Donald P. Astrab. The move followed a decision by the college's trustees to renew Astrab's contract despite faculty objections. Kimberley Reiser, chair of the Academic Senate, said in a statement: "Many of the faculty expressed concern that the president used the current budget crisis as an excuse to impose an autocratic management style, disregard faculty advice in areas of their expertise, seek to diminish academic standards, create a new management structure that was inconsistent and non-communicative, and effect an illusion of consultation."
The college issued statements from the board defending the renewal of the president's contract, and from Astrab. His statement said: "Recognizing the fiscal challenges ahead of us, one of the first things I did upon becoming president was to establish budget task forces that included membership from every campus constituency in order to engage them in the process and solicit their ideas. Since then, my days and weeks at the college have been filled with continuous meetings with the various component parts of the 'academic side of the house.' State law envisions faculty input, and I respect that. But it also makes clear that it is the college’s Board of Trustees that establishes college policy."
First-year enrollment in M.D. programs is projected to increase 2 percent this year, according to a report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, which said that medical schools are currently on track to increase first-year enrollments by 27.6 percent beyond 2002 levels by 2015. The association had set a goal of a 30 percent increase by that time. Despite the progress, the AAMC noted that a growing number of medical colleges are reporting concerns about their ability to continue enrollment increases in light of tight budgets.
Osteopathic medical schools are projecting 5,716 first-year matriculants in fall 2011, up 8.5 percent, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has refused, 9 to 7, to consider an appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the court to uphold the consideration of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas. The panel's ruling, in January, rejected an argument that the state had shown it could use the "10 percent plan" -- in which all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes are admitted -- to promote diversity without the consideration of race. The decision cited various flaws in the plan, and types of diversity that may not be produced by it.
As is the norm, the judges who voted not to reconsider the case did not issue any statement on their thinking. Five of the judges who would have heard the case issued a dissent expressing strong doubts about the panel's decision. These judges said that the three-judge panel had adopted "a new 'serious good faith consideration' standard of review, watering down" the Supreme Court's requirement for consideration of race only with "strict narrow tailoring. Second, it authorizes the university’s race-conscious admissions program although a race-neutral state law (the Top Ten Percent Law) had already fostered increased campus racial diversity. Finally, the panel appears to countenance an unachievable and unrealistic goal of racial diversity at the classroom level to support the university’s race-conscious policy,"
The plaintiffs who challenged the University of Texas policies still have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
David Flory, a physics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is in custody in New Mexico, where he has a vacation home. Flory is charged with running a website that arranged prostitution for 200 women and more than 1,200 of their customers, The Bergen Record reported. A university spokeswoman said that the institution was "saddened" by the news and had been cooperating with law enforcement. She declined to comment on Flory's job status. A police official said that Flory said he did not make money from the site, but maintained it as a hobby.
Yale University, which recently announced that it is phasing out an institute to study anti-Semitism, is creating a new institute to study the same subject. The soon-to-be-gone center received an unfavorable review from a faculty committee, but some in the pro-Israel blogosphere have suggested that its elimination resulted from its willingness to talk about Muslim anti-Semitism in ways that made some uncomfortable. Others, however, including experts in anti-Semitism, have raised questions about whether the original center mixed advocacy with scholarship in a way that may have been inappropriate. The news that Yale is creating a new center (under direct control of faculty members, unlike the original center) was praised by the Anti-Defamation League, which had criticized the decision to eliminate the first center.
At a time of scrutiny for Ohio State University athletes, including questions about some athletes' alleged use of free cars, WBNS-10TV News reported that Ohio State's athletics director and director of compliance for athletes both have "courtesy" cars provided by local dealers. While the cars for the sports officials do not violate rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, some observers said it was odd for the university to have officials charged with preventing the use of free cars driving them. Bret Adams, a sports agent, told the station: "I don't understand why -- given the scrutiny that is happening at Ohio State -- why the compliance office would risk this relationship?"
Senator Dianne Feinstein announced Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs, would investigate reports that the Bush administration sought to have intelligence officers gather information to discredit a University of Michigan professor, The New York Times reported. The professor, Juan Cole, is an expert on the Middle East with a wide following for his blog, Informed Comment, which was harshly critical of the Bush administration's policies. On his blog, Cole noted his frustration at being a target of the administration and also questioned the idea that the government would spend time tracking a person who shared his views all the time. "How inept do you have to be to enlist intelligence officials in monitoring bloggers? They put up their thoughts for everyone to see every day," he wrote.