Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 22, 2013

James Beckwith, formerly interim president and chief financial officer of Southern Vermont College, killed himself Wednesday, with federal authorities charging that he embezzled $440,000 while serving as interim president, The Bennington Banner reported. Beckwith resigned suddenly as CFO this month, apparently when the college learned of the allegations. Authorities said that he took college money while serving as interim president.  A statement on the college's website expressed condolences to Beckwith's family and said: "This is a difficult and sad time for all who knew Jim. His many contributions to our community will be remembered."

 

February 22, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Suzanne Wagner of Michigan State University explores the connection between the use of non-standard English and choices about higher education. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 21, 2013

New data from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that while there has been diversification of the medical school student body, not all groups are showing the same kinds of gains. The percentage of medical school applicants who are white continues to fall (down 26 percent in the last three decades) such that 55 percent of 2011 applicants were white. Another 20 percent are Asian. Just over 7 percent of applicants were black. AAMC noted as an area of concern the gender split among black applicants, where 65 percent of first-time applicants are women. Other racial groups have much more gender balance.

 

February 21, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday over a new Pennsylvania law that would interfere with its sanctions against Pennsylvania State University stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Among other penalties, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, to be donated to programs that benefit victims of child abuse nationwide. Months after Penn State agreed to the sanctions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA in January, arguing that the money should stay in-state. The NCAA’s lawsuit against Corbett and other state officials seeks to invalidate a law, signed by Corbett on Wednesday, that would require that the money be paid into a state endowment and then distributed to child sex-abuse prevention programs in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA says in its lawsuit that the Pennsylvania law violates an article in the Constitution declaring that states may not make laws “impairing the obligation of contracts”; a Fifth Amendment clause that says “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”; and an article providing that “The Congress shall have power … [t]o regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with Indian tribes.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a news release that members must abide by the rules to which they have agreed. “If individual members or state lawmakers take it upon themselves to decide what sanctions are appropriate, simply to protect their home team,” he said, “then collegiate sports would be dramatically altered.”

February 21, 2013

Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences voted Wednesday to censure President James Wagner for his remarks seeming to endorse the Constitution's three-fifths compromise as a model for dealing with disagreements. While Wagner has since apologized for the "clumsiness" of his statement, many faculty members and students remain furious about his remarks and unimpressed by the apology. Faculty members said that the censure resolution passed on a voice vote, with strong support. The professors considered a vote of no confidence, but postponed consideration of that measure pending an appearance by Wagner. His spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment on the censure vote.

February 21, 2013

David Bergeron, the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Education Department, is resigning in March to take a position with another organization, sources said Wednesday. Bergeron, who has worked at the department for more than 30 years, has served as acting assistant secretary since Eduardo Ochoa left the post in May to become interim president of California State University at Monterey Bay.

The search for a political appointee to replace Ochoa permanently is said to be under way. Since last fall, observers have pointed to a lack of a coherent vision to drive policy making at the Education Department, in large part due to departures of key political appointees and policy staffers during the president's first term. Those departures have continued as the second term begins, including Zakiya Smith, formerly of the White House Domestic Policy Council. With the departure of Bergeron slightly more than a year after that of Daniel Madzelan, another long-time senior staff member, the department has lost close to 60 years of higher education experience and knowledge.

February 21, 2013

Coppin State University told its adjuncts on Monday that their February paychecks -- which were scheduled for Wednesday -- would not be arriving on time, The Baltimore Sun reported. The university, which has been struggling financially, released a statement saying that the delay was due to an "administrative processing delay." The university has not said when its adjuncts will be paid.

February 21, 2013

A new conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II will comprise nine of the 12 member institutions of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is dissolving at the end of this academic year, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The Mountain East Conference will be made up of the University of Charleston, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Notre Dame College, Shepherd University, Urbana University, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, West Liberty University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and Wheeling Jesuit University.

The Mountain East will conduct championships in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf,  men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball.

February 21, 2013

Be careful about putting too much weight in the "report cards" various organizations issue about state education policies. A new analysis from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that the grades are fairly predictable, based on the ideology of the group doing the evaluations. As a result, every state has earned a D or F on at least one of the report cards in recent years. An almost every state has earned an A or B on one of the report cards. The analysis was prepared by Sherman Dorn, an education professor at the University of South Florida, and Ken Libby, a doctoral student at Boulder.

 

February 21, 2013

A University of Minnesota wrestler who posted original music videos on YouTube and songs on iTunes has been declared ineligible because National Collegiate Athletic Association rules prohibit athletes from using their name or image for commercial purposes, USA Today reported. Joel Bauman chose to forgo his athletic scholarship rather than singing under an alias or taking the music down because his goal is to inspire people, he said. (Below is the video for his chase-your-dreams song, "Ones in the Sky," which has more than 23,000 views.)  

Responding to an inquiry from Sports Illustrated, the NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Minnesota chose to interpret the rule that way and that Bauman could seek a rules waiver with the university’s support. If Minnesota hadn’t declared Bauman ineligible and he’d continued making music under his own name, the university could have faced NCAA sanctions (which could include declaring Bauman ineligible). Bauman is also a motivational speaker. He told SI he has yet to break even financially on anything he's done.

 

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