Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Brandon Davies, a key player on the men’s basketball team at Brigham Young University, was dismissed from the team Tuesday for a violation of the institution’s strict honor code. BYU has enjoyed high-profile success so far this basketball season; it is currently ranked third in the nation. University officials did not comment on the nature of Davies's offense, though they confirmed Wednesday he was not involved in anything criminal. BYU’s honor code is known for its all-encompassing nature. For example, it stipulates that students “live a chaste and virtuous life,” “use clean language,” “abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse,” and “observe the dress and grooming standards,” among other provisions. This is not the first time that a high-profile athlete has been dismissed at BYU. Last fall, Harvey Unga was suspended from the football team for an honor code violation; he was the team’s leading rusher at the time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:00am

A joint investigation by Sports Illustrated and CBS News has found that 7 percent of the players on 25 top college football teams had been charged with or cited for a crime in their pasts. Reporters for the magazine and TV network conducted criminal background checks on all 2,837 players on the preseason rosters of the 25 teams that were ranked before the 2010 season that concluded in January, and found that 204 of them had a criminal record, involving a total of 277 incidents. Of those, "nearly 40 percent involved serious offenses, including 56 violent crimes such as assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), aggravated assault (4), robbery (4) and sex offenses (3)," the report on the investigation said. Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, told a CBS reporter that the results were "a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us."

Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Northwestern University officials are defending an explicit after-class event for a "Human Sexuality" course -- even though some students were offended, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. In the event, a naked woman was penetrated by a sex toy manipulated by her boyfriend and was brought to an orgasm. While students witnessed the demonstration (which was optional), they were not onstage. Exhibitionists from outside the university did the demonstration. A spokesman for the university said, “Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines. The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, testified Wednesday before a Senate hearing entitled “Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program.” In addition to responding to a new Government Accountability Office report that calls on the Defense Department to increase oversight of institutions receiving military aid dollars, Harkin cited his December report on for-profit colleges to express his concern about the growing amount of funds going to service members at career colleges.

Advocates of for-profit institutions, however, continued to question his report’s findings. Harris Miller, president of the Association of Private Sector College and Universities, wrote in a statement after the hearing: “[For-profit institution] enrollments of military personnel and veterans are not skyrocketing, nor are our schools ‘targeting’ service members or veterans. Students with a military background select our schools because [for-profit institutions] offer a ‘no-frills’ approach to a quality higher education. These are individuals who want to get their programs, to gain bankable skills and to get on with life. Demand for private sector colleges and universities by members of the military has grown because of flexible and accelerated schedules, targeted programs, and a focus on educating adults for specific careers.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science is facing increased criticism over its ties to Mu’ammer Gaddafi, whose son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi earned a Ph.D. at the university and made large donations to it. Times Higher Education reported that students have expressed outrage that these donations led to agreements by the London School of Economics to operate programs in Libya -- since called off. Students took over a building to demand, among other things, that some of the Gaddafi money be used for scholarships. A statement from the university says that it “shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the school’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The relative roles of and relationships between research universities and state college systems are in the state policy spotlight as governors trot out their 2012 budgets. On Tuesday, as expected, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin called for splitting off the flagship University of Wisconsin at Madison from the statewide public college system. Walker said giving Madison "public authority" status -- which he said could also soon be granted to the university's other major research campus, in Milwaukee -- was necessary to give Madison "the tools it needs to remain a world leader in research and instruction -- while continuing to be a driver of economic development for our state." Walker said he was "open to working with lawmakers from both political parties on expanding this concept to the other campuses throughout the University of Wisconsin system," many of whose leaders have opposed the prospect of separating the system's most visible and prestigious campuses from the rest.

Also Tuesday, legislators in Connecticut challenged a proposal by that state's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, that would create a statewide system, but leave the flagship University of Connecticut on its own, The Connecticut Mirror reported. "I feel the UConn system needs to be in the same umbrella," the newspaper quoted State Representative Toni E. Walker as saying. "I want to see another model, and that model includes the University of Connecticut.... If we're going to do this let's not isolate the other universities." Connecticut's commissioner of higher education, Michael Meotti, said at the legislative hearing that treating the institutions differently made sense, given their different student bodies and missions. "That sets them worlds apart. If you put them together then you run too great a risk that one institution's issues will dominate over another."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

James Franco has posted a photograph expressing his four-letter-word feelings about The Yale Daily News, the student newspaper at the institution where he is earning his Ph.D. While Franco did not detail his complaints about the publication, it has poked fun at his Oscar hosting and his use of Twitter, among other things. Cokey Cohen, author of some of the articles that may have insulted Franco, responded to the photo in a piece in which Cohen defended his early critiques of the "lame-ness of James Franco's Twitter," but said the photo response was more creative.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

An archaeology professor at Loyola University Chicago was sentenced by a federal judge to one year of probation Tuesday after admitting that he stole artifacts from an excavated site in New Mexico, The Chicago Tribune reported. The professor, Daniel Amick, pledged to return the artifacts. Amick and Loyola declined comment. Amick's lawyer said that he took the items for research purposes and would have been eligible for a research permit to work on the site, but had not obtained one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

President Obama on Tuesday named the 10 winners of the National Humanities Medal for 2010. They are:

  • Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University.
  • Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor at Harvard University.
  • Jacques Barzun, former dean and provost at Columbia University.
  • Wendell E. Berry, the poet and novelist.
  • Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University.
  • Stanley N. Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, the author.
  • Arnold Rampersad, biographer and professor and former associate dean at Stanford University.
  • Philip Roth, the novelist.
  • Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Heidi Newberg discusses how much we have learned about galaxies in the last century, and the mysteries still awaiting discovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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