Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the rehiring of and back pay for three janitors who worked at Nova Southeastern University, The Miami Herald reported. The janitors were involved in a union organizing drive just before the university decided to hire an outside contractor to handle custodial work. Most of the university's janitors were hired, but not these three -- an act the NLRB found was retaliatory. The university declined to comment, saying that the matter was one for the contractor, not Nova Southeastern.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Joe Peek, a finance professor who has been elected as faculty trustee at the University of Kentucky, is trying to make points with humor, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. He has mocked the university's goal of being among the top 20 universities nationally as unrealistic, while pushing for improvements he says are feasible. He has noted that coaches are fired when they don't meet their goals and asked why the university doesn't act the same way with regard to those in charge of academics. "As a citizen of Kentucky, why are you not pissed off that they don't feel the same way about the academic vision?" And he's even joked about the divide between board members and faculty members. After being elected, he sent out an e-mail saying: "Now that you have foolishly elected me as your faculty trustee, I have lost all respect for you, thereby fully qualifying me to be a UK trustee." His first board meeting is this month.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

National Collegiate Athletic Association panels punished Pennsylvania's Lincoln University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis late last week for major violations in their sports programs. The NCAA's Division III Committee on Infractions, in a case processed through the association's summary disposition process, concluded that Lincoln had let ineligible athletes compete in a wide range of sports, including men’s track and field, men’s cross country, men’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s basketball, and that the former men's and women's track coach -- who also was athletics director -- had engaged in unethical conduct. All of Lincoln's teams are banned from postseason play in the 2010-11 academic year, and the men's basketball and track and field programs are barred from playing on television. The NCAA's Division II Committee on Infractions, meanwhile, punished Missouri-St. Louis because of gambling-related violations in its men's golf program. The panel found that the university's former golf coach had not only wagered himself, through participation in fantasy football and baseball leagues, but had a former volunteer assistant coach and athletes from the university help him run a fantasy football business that he owned. The university is on two years' probation, and the former golf coach faces restrictions if he seeks to work at an NCAA member college through 2013.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Two bills headed for gubernatorial OK or veto in California would allow the California State University System to start offering doctorates in nursing practice and physical therapy, and the bills have renewed debates over the state's master plan for higher education and the role of doctorates in health fields, The Sacramento Bee reported. Historically, doctorates have been offered by the University of California, not Cal State, but lawmakers approved a bill in 2005 to allow Cal State to offer doctorates in education. Advocates for the new doctorates say that they would fill key needs in the health-care system, but critics charge that the bills reflect the push for credential inflation.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The state financial aid program in Texas is becoming overwhelmed with applicants who meet both the academic and income eligibility requirements, The Dallas Morning News reported. Despite state moves in recent years to tighten eligibility, about 24,000 eligible students could be left out of the program by next year. The shortfall comes at a time when state leaders have made it a goal to increase the share of Texans who enroll in and complete college programs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Salve Regina University on Friday announced that it will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college said that it has long viewed high school grades as the best tool to determine whether applicants can succeed. The testing requirement will continue, however, for nursing and education majors, since those programs lead to standardized certification exams.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California at Irvine has upheld its decision to suspend the Muslim Student Union on the campus as punishment for organizing heckling during a February speech by Israel's ambassador to the United States, but the suspension time has been reduced to a quarter, not a full year. The original suspension was based on evidence that the heckling was not just a series of individual acts, but a planned strategy to make it more difficult for the ambassador to speak. The Muslim organization had called for the suspension to be lifted, but a statement from the university said: "This process has been exhaustive and detailed. The sanctions described above reflect the need for appropriate discipline following violations of campus policy while recognizing the role of the university in educating students in and outside the classroom." At a press conference Friday, Muslim students denounced the suspension as an unfair collective punishment, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Authorities in Duluth invoked local ordinances to get students to remove racy signs that were placed in an off-campus neighborhood to "welcome" new students to the University of Minnesota at Duluth, The Duluth News Tribune reported. The newspaper quoted police as admitting that they don't always enforce the rules about such yard signs, but that they do so when there are complaints. Some citizens and students are questioning the inconsistent enforcement, while others say that the signs were offensive. While the News Tribune didn't go into details on what the signs said, the local Fox News show did, offering as examples signs that said “I like the taste of Freshmeat,” “Dads, she’s in our hands now,” and “Free breast exams here.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

A former student has sued San Jose State University, eight students and the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, charging that they did nothing to prevent violent hazing and retaliation for reporting hazing, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Four of the students have already been convicted in court of misdemeanor hazing. According to the suit, the hazing involved beatings, punching, kicking and paddling. The woman who is suing left the university, saying she did not feel safe, and transferred to the University of Southern California. A university spokesman said that anti-hazing rules are strictly enforced.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Lasell College has agreed to pay students $191,000 to resolve complaints from the Massachusetts attorney general that the college improperly encouraged students to borrow funds from a lender that was giving the institution's aid officials free trips, The Boston Globe reported. There were less expensive loans available at the time, and the college never revealed to students that its officials had ties to the lender they were sent to. The lender paid for trips by the financial aid director to resorts in Florida and Arizona to serve on an advisory board. College officials said that the travel was legitimate, but that they agreed to settle the case by paying funds back to students who borrowed. A statement by Martha Coakley, the attorney general, said: "Colleges and universities are in a unique position of trust and have a responsibility to provide lending advice that is in the best interest of students and untainted by conflicts of interest. Certainly, no school should ever attempt to restrict a student’s abilities to obtain more affordable loans.’’

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