Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Football, men's basketball and other coaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sent scores of impermissible text messages and made dozens of impermissible telephone calls to recruits in 2008 and 2009, breaking major National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, the association said Thursday. The Division I Committee on Infractions and the university, working together in the association's summary disposition process, also concluded that the university had failed to adequately monitor its sports program and ensure compliance and integrity in the investigation into the wrongdoing. The university faces recruiting and coaching restrictions as a result.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley said the institution plans to cut another 200 jobs to save $20 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In a letter to employees this week, Robert Birgeneau said that Berkeley "cannot continue with our current administrative structures and operations and be the best run public university in the country." The cuts, which he said will be achieved through "a combination of attrition, retirements, voluntary separations and layoffs," would be in addition to about 600 positions eliminated since last year.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Days after it called off the screening of a potentially controversial new documentary on the environment, the University of Minnesota has announced that it will show the film, as planned, The Pioneer Press of St. Paul reported. Minnesota officials had said the delay was to give faculty members time to review the documentary produced by its natural history museum, "Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story," for factual accuracy, but the decision raised questions in some quarters about whether the university was yielding to concerns of agricultural interests. The head of the museum, Susan Weller, told the newspaper that the show would go on as planned after she reassured Minnesota administrators that a review process had been conducted and that no more faculty review was needed.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert M. Berdahl announced Thursday that he will retire as president of the Association of American Universities on May 1. Berdahl has led the association of 63 research universities in the United States and Canada since 2006. Berdahl said that he plans in retirement to remain active on higher education issues and to pursue various writing projects. Before coming to the association, he served as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley and president of the University of Texas at Austin.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Many residence life officials have been keeping a careful watch this fall for bedbugs, as a handful of colleges have reported their presence on campus, while New York City and other urban areas suffer major infestations. In the past week, bedbugs have been spotted at several additional campuses, including: Indiana University at Bloomington (where a quick response is being credited with minimizing problems), Lehigh University, Oklahoma State University and Reinhardt University.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Minnesota violated a former dental student's due process rights last year when administrators upheld his two-year suspension by a student judicial panel without considering evidence he had proffered, a state appeals court judge ruled Tuesday. The decision by a judge on the state Court of Appeals came in a case in which the university's Campus Committee on Student Behavior suspended Noah Berge after concluding that he had engaged in “[t]hreatening, harassing, or assaultive conduct" against a female student who had accused him of sexually assaulting her. Although an advisory committee to the university's provost found that the judiciary panel had violated his due process rights by barring him from preventing evidence about the impact a suspension would have on his career, the provost reinstated the panel's ruling. The provost's decision was "arbitrary and capricious," the appeals court judge said, because the university lacks guidelines for disciplinary actions by the provost, among other reasons. The judge ordered Minnesota to give Berge another hearing before a new student behavior panel.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Drew University students are complaining that the university has made it a bit more difficult for them to obtain free condoms, The Star-Ledger reported. Students can get free condoms by asking dormitory resident advisors for them. In the past, the university had condoms for the taking in a wicker basket in the lobby of the university health office, but changed the system because students were grabbing handfuls of them at once -- and sometimes taking the basket too, officials said. Students say that they may be embarrassed to ask their R.A.'s for the condoms. But a university spokesman said: "If a student is mature enough to engage in sexual activity, they should be mature enough to ask for a condom or buy them. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own health and welfare."

Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Wednesday marked the official launch of a new federal panel designed to recommend how to ensure that American research universities remain vital and effective. The Committee on Research Universities, sponsored by the National Academies and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, includes corporate CEOs, university leaders, and others, and is charged with answering this question: "What are the top ten actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?” A report is due next May.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement denouncing as "harmful to one's moral and spiritual life" a 2008 book by two theologians at Creighton University, a Roman Catholic institution. The book, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, by Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler, was published by Georgetown University Press, and the press website features much praise for the work. In the book, the authors offer views that differ from traditional church teachings on a variety of issues related to sex. The authors were not available for comment. Creighton issued a statement to The Omaha World-Herald saying that the institution is committed both to Catholic teachings and to academic freedom.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Much has been made in recent months about the increasingly intensive political activity in which for-profit colleges and their employees have been engaging in the face of the related increasingly intensive federal regulatory and legislative scrutiny buffeting the institutions. That political tradition is matched by two others that a new report reaffirms: the heavy financial contributions by higher education employees to political campaigns, and the overwhelming bias of that giving toward Democratic candidates. The report, by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group, breaks down political giving by college employees leading up to November's 2010 midterm elections, and shows how heavily the donations tilt left. (There are exceptions, with employees at the Universities of Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia giving predominantly, and workers at Calvin College and the College of Lake County giving almost exclusively, to Republicans.) A table below includes the top 10 institutions (and educational groups) in political giving so far this year:

Organization Total
Giving
By Political
Action
Committee
By
Individuals
% to
Democrats
% to
Republicans
University of California $483,981 $0 $483,981 86% 14%
Harvard University $424,478 $0 $424,478 77% 23%
Stanford University $375,553 $0 $375,553 75% 25%
Apollo Group $265,625 $78,600 $177,025 76% 24%
Career College Association $226,111 $206,311 $19,800 66% 34%
University of Texas $139,867 $0 $139,867 83% 17%
Columbia University $126,690 $0 $126,690 72% 28%
Full Sail $126,070 $0 $126,070 74% 24%
Keiser University $118,242 $0 $118,242 51% 25%
Princeton Review $115,000 $0 $115,000 100% 0%

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