Higher Education Quick Takes
Preston Mitchum gave a speech at his law school graduation from North Carolina Central University last week that in significant portions came from one given last year by a student at the State University of New York at Binghamton, The News & Observer reported. Mitchum said he found the speech -- whose theme dealt with being average -- on YouTube. He said he meant to credit the original, but didn't. Anthony Corvino, who gave the talk at Binghamton, said that Mitchum had called him to apologize, and that he believed the apology was sincere. Raymond Pierce, law dean at North Carolina Central, was less forgiving. "Quite frankly, I'm disgusted," Pierce told the News & Observer. "I spared no words in expressing to Mr. Mitchum how disgusted I am with this, and shocked. I mean, he is a student leader here at our law school. Plagiarism is a sad, yet unfortunate reality in higher education, we all know that. That is not to make any excuse but it is a sad and unfortunately reality. I would say, of all places, a school of law has no place for that."
The University of Texas Board of Regents, facing a backlash from faculty members and others over its recent suggestions about research and faculty priorities, has pledged not to try to micromanage the system. But The Austin American-Statesman reported that even as such pledges were being made, one regent was sending off requests for individual faculty members' workloads, grade averages for each undergraduate course and student evaluations of instructors. The e-mails suggest a continued focus on metrics suggested for higher education by a think tank with close ties to Republican leaders in the state.
Major expansion plans for public higher education are relatively rare in these frugal times, but Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday proposed an $864 million expansion plan for the University of Connecticut Health Center, The Hartford Courant reported. The plan -- which would rely on a mix of bonds, private fund raising and other revenue sources -- would expand the enrollments of the university's medical and dental schools, add faculty slots, and create additional facilities. The governor stressed the job-creation aspects of the plan -- both the construction jobs in the short term and biomedical jobs in the long term.
The men's baseball coach at Montreat College is getting grief (and some support) for offering a small athletic scholarship to a female pitcher, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported. Marti Sementelli, a pitcher from California, isn't talking and hasn't signed a letter of intent. But some athletes and alumni at Montreat have told the coach, Michael Bender, that they object. The coach told the newspaper: "I'm not trying to skirt away from this because I have given her this opportunity, and I knew that some of this would come with it. It's hard because I didn't really want to be known around Asheville for this; I kind of wanted to be known around Asheville for playing pretty good baseball.”
The Yale University fraternity that shouted “no means yes, yes means anal” during a pledge initiation last fall has been all but banned from the campus. For violating Yale’s undergraduate regulations on “harassment, coercion or intimidation” and “imperiling the integrity and values of the university community,” the campus chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is prohibited for five years from “conducting any fraternity activities on campus,” including recruiting, and from using Yale bulletin boards or e-mail to communicate with students. The sanctions also “severely limit its use of the Yale name in connection with the DKE organization.” The committee that issued the sanctions, which is charged with enforcing the undergraduate regulations, also formally recommended that the national fraternity organization suspend the chapter for five years.
Some students face additional punishments, but those are confidential under Yale and federal privacy laws. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said it is unusual to announce the committee's findings, but because the incident made a huge stir on the campus and attracted national attention, she sent a statement to all students and faculty of the college. The university itself is under federal investigation after a student complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, alleged a sexually hostile climate on campus.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday that 909 teams have earned “public recognition awards” for their academic performance. These awards are given annually to teams that score in the top 10 percent in each sport using the Academic Progress Rate, an NCAA-developed score that shows how a team's athletes are faring with regard to academic eligibility to play and progress toward graduation. For the sixth year in a row, Yale University had the most teams recognized, with 23. By conference, the Ivy League had the highest number of teams honored, with 135. The next highest was the Patriot League, with 82. Four national champions from the 2009-10 season received “public recognition awards” for their academic performance: Duke University men’s basketball, Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s bowling, University of Michigan men’s gymnastics, and University of Denver women’s skiing. Full APR scores for all teams will be released May 24. Punishments for those teams with low scores will also be announced that day.
The incumbent party that lost all its executive board seats in a bitter contest for the leadership of the union representing graduate students at nine University of California campuses says that the election was marred by so many allegations of impropriety that it must be done over.
"No matter who wins the election, it is critical that our members have confidence that the election process is fair and democratic," the group, United for Social and Economic Justice, wrote in a statement that is posted on its website. "And so it is with a profound sense of personal and professional obligation to the integrity of the union that we are protesting this election and requesting that it be set aside and re-run."
A request for comment from the winning party, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, was not returned as of press time. The race featured allegations of voter intimidation, ballot tampering and ad hominem attacks, and required mediation to resolve.
John O'Connor is taking a paid leave as president of the State University of New York Research Foundation amid allegations that he gave a no-show job to the daughter of the former president of the State Senate, the Associated Press reported. A state ethics commission found likely fault in the hire of the daughter of Joseph Bruno, who is currently appealing federal corruption convictions. O'Connor has said that he did nothing wrong and that the state commission's inquiry was flawed.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked the Obama administration to weigh in with a brief on a request that the court overturn a Florida law barring travel by state university system professors to Cuba. The law was adopted by Florida lawmakers intent on distancing the state from Cuba, and an appeals court upheld the law as a justified education policy. But faculty members and civil liberties groups are challenging the law, arguing that it improperly has a state setting foreign policy. In other actions related to higher education, the court let stand an appeals court ruling dismissing a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by former faculty members against Chapman University, in California. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had dismissed the lawsuit after a 2009 Supreme Court decision that resolved a technical issue involving how False Claims Act cases could be appealed. The case, which involved how part-time students were educated, was seen as having potentially significant implications for higher education accreditation.