Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The American Philosophical Association has announced that, starting in 2015-16, the annual meeting of its Eastern Division will no longer take place in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, but will instead take place at the end of the first full week of January. Meetings during the post-Christmas week were in the past a tradition for many humanities scholars, as the Modern Language Association, like the philosophers, met that week. The theory was that one could get good deals at conference hotels, and nobody would have classes scheduled.

But the MLA has switched its meeting to the first week in January for the last two years, and no longer has scholars complaining about having to cut short their family vacations. The philosophers surveyed members, and found strong support for such a shift. (The philosophy association has regional meetings rather than a single national conclave, but the Eastern meeting is the closest to a national meeting, and features job interviews for colleges from across the country.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 3:00am

Trudie Kibbe Reed is stepping down as president of Bethune-Cookman University, amid apparent board disagreements over whether her resignation should be accepted. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported her departure, confirmed by the board chair. The Orlando Sentinel, while also confirming her resignation, quoted a trustee as saying Reed had not resigned, and that the board had taken no action on her departure. (Reed did not respond to an e-mail message from Inside Higher Ed seeking clarification.) Reed has been praised for promoting growth at the historically black college. But the institution has seen controversies as well. An investigation by the American Association of University Professors found that the university violated the due process of faculty members who were fired after they were accused of sexual harassment. University officials disputed the AAUP's findings. Last year, the News-Journal reported that Bethune-Cookman was facing 12 lawsuits from ex-employees who say that they were fired inappropriately.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 3:00am

More than two dozen college associations, accrediting agencies and other organizations have endorsed a set of guidelines that they say show that they are committed to gathering evidence that their students are learning, the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability will announce today. The group, which for three years has been striving to get higher education leaders to agree on a set of goals and methods for using and reporting student learning outcomes, trumpets the new guidelines as a common "checklist" that institutions can and will use to "test whether they are actually doing what needs to be done about gathering, reporting, and using evidence of student learning," said David C. Paris, the group's executive director.

 

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:19am

California State University trustees on Tuesday rejected a request by a legislator that they hold off on a plan that would lead to significant increases in what some campus presidents are paid, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The plan would group Cal State campuses by mission and enrollment, and then set salary ranges based on peer institutions. Those comparison groups would result in significantly higher salaries -- much to the frustration of student and faculty leaders, and many lawmakers. Trustees, however, say that they need to pay more to attract top talent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:25am

Pepperdine University has, for the fourth time, rejected a request from a gay-straight student alliance to be recognized. A petition, signed by nearly 4,000 people as of Tuesday morning, said that the university needed to accept the organization. "Pepperdine students often struggle to be honest about their sexual orientation because they fear rejection from their peers as well as the risk of losing their scholarships and leadership opportunities," the petition says. "Moreover, professors do not feel comfortable speaking on the issue, worrying that they will be denied tenure or research grants. Until now, the university’s policies have created an atmosphere of silence and anxiety that alienates not only the LGBT student population but also anyone concerned for their well-being." The petition states that the group, Reach OUT, does not endorse sexual activity, but that organizers were unwilling to abide by an administrator's request that it "explicitly condemn sexual activity." A university spokesman told the Associated Press that the group was not aligned with Pepperdine's religious views on sexual morality. Pepperdine is a Churches of Christ institution.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:32am

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is proposing a centralization of community colleges in Massachusetts. His plan would give the state's Board of Higher Education authority over all funds for all community colleges, consolidating the 15 line items for the colleges in the budget today. Further, Patrick said that the board would focus on job preparation. “A central piece of our economic recovery strategy is ensuring that the skills of our workforce meet the evolving needs of our employers,” said Governor Patrick in a statement. “That’s why we are advancing a new and innovative mission for our community colleges, to train highly-qualified candidates for jobs in every corner of the commonwealth."

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael French of the University of Miami explains the link between the health of the economy and patterns of alcohol consumption. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Joe Paterno, the former Pennsylvania State University football coach whose career was ended and reputation tarnished over an explosive sex abuse scandal, died Sunday morning at the age of 85 from complications resulting from lung cancer. Paterno's health deteriorated rapidly after the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him, along with President Graham B. Spanier, for not doing more when informed that his former assistant of 16 years may have been sexually abusing young boys.

The winningest coach in Division I history, Paterno was widely respected and known for imparting to players the importance of ethical behavior and academic success. Just last week, The Washington Post published Paterno's first interview since his dismissal, in which he said he didn't follow up on the allegations against Jerry Sandusky -- the coach relayed what he'd heard to  his superiors, but not police -- because he "didn't know exactly how to handle it." In one of the few comments Paterno made as the scandal was unfolding, he said, "I wish I had done more."

The university, which has been criticized by some alumni for its treatment of Paterno, issued a statement Sunday that made no mention of the scandal. The statement said: "We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always." The university also reiterated plans to honor Paterno.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

An annual survey of the status of women in intercollegiate athletics finds record numbers of female athletes and teams, coaches and administrators in college programs. But the survey, conducted for the 35th year by two emerita professors at Brooklyn College, also finds that the proportion of head coaches of women's teams who are female has fallen below 50 percent, compared to about 90 percent in 1972, when Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted. The report, produced by Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, contains a slew of data, on everything from players to strength coaches to trainers for women's teams.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In a decision disappointing to many Christian and Roman Catholic colleges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that while religiously affiliated employers would have an additional year to comply with a new rule requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control with no cost-sharing or co-pays, the definition of religious employers completely exempt from the requirement will not change. The exemption covers houses of worship but is worded narrowly enough to exclude religiously affiliated groups, including colleges. Two colleges have sued over the requirement.

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