In the wake of a series of racial incidents at University of California campuses, system officials may toughen student conduct rules to specifically bar hate crimes, the Associated Press reported. Vandalism and sexual and racial harassment are already banned, but system officials may explicitly ban acts designed to terrorize groups of people. Some of those acts might be hanging a noose, burning a cross or using symbols such as swastikas in ways that could frighten and intimidate. Officials said that any policy changes would also reflect First Amendment protections.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Just 14 Division I athletics programs were able to cover their overall expenses in 2008-9 only with money they generated -- excluding direct and indirect payments from general university funds, government support, and student fees, according to an analysis Friday by USA Today. That's down from 25 sports programs in 2007-8, and reflects the growing dependence of big-time sports programs on financial subsidies from their institutions. USA Today's new analysis also reveals that coaches' salaries are eating up ever-growing chunks of athletics budgets at colleges and universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I.
Pay and benefits for those who lead British universities increased more than 10 percent last year, according to an analysis for Times Higher Education. The raises and substantial compensation packages are being discussed as the universities are facing deep cuts in their budgets.
Loyola Law School in Los Angles has raised the grade of every student -- retroactively -- by one level (with every B turning into a B+ and so forth). A memo from the dean ran this week in the blog Above the Law. In the memo, the dean argued that potential employers look at grades and that other law schools are already easier about grades than is Loyola. While the change may go over well with students, the blog and its readers are rather skeptical. The blog asked: "Well, why stop there? Let’s give even more accolades to Loyola law students for exactly the same work they did before. How about everybody who shows up for every class session gets bumped up a full letter grade? Let’s give everybody who gets a C an opportunity to turn that into a B if they pitch in with janitorial duty on the weekends. Why not give high performers a “double” A+; an A+ with a bright, shiny, happy star — just so that employers all know that these kids are the super-most-awesome kids in the bunch!"
Some of the news in the student press this April Fool's Day:
- The Diamondback at the University of Maryland at College Park is reporting that as one of his last initiatives before stepping down as president, Dan Mote is trying to have the institution's mascot changed from the terrapin to the panda.
- Student Life, of Washington University in St. Louis, satirizes the boom in applications for Teach for America (ever popular with students worried about the job market) by suggsting that the career center is now urging students to consider joining Strip for America. The founder of that organization is quoted as saying: "A lot of people have this misperception that there are good strippers across the country, but that’s just not true. Some people today are really put at a major disadvantage; they live in communities with little or no funding for quality strip joints.”
- Washington Square News has some fun with New York University's growth agenda by suggesting that the university has purchasd Columbia University.
- The GW Hatchett focuses on the alleged Twitter account of George Washington University's president. Steven Knapp.
While most of the April Fool's Day news comes from student journalists, those comedians at Johns Hopkins University have announced on their home page that they are changing their name to John Hopkins University (dropping the S from Johns), since so many people do so anyway. President Ronald J. Daniel is quoted as saying: "We're fighting a losing battle here. And we strongly suspect the extra 's' was a typo in the first place."
Those who are the least likely to go to college are the most likely to gain economically from doing so, according to research being published today in American Sociological Review. The economic value of a college degree is nearly twice as high for women from disadvantaged backgrounds as for women from privileged backgrounds, the study says. For disadvantaged men, a college education is worth three times more than is the case for privileged college-goers. The study was conducted by Jennie E. Brand, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Yu Xie, the Otis Dudley Duncan Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Brand and Xie used databases to track 12,686 Americans who were 14 to 22 years old when they were first interviewed in 1979 and who were followed through 2008.
Among life sciences faculty members at the universities whose medical schools receive the most money from the National Institutes of Health, there are some notable gender gaps, according to a study published in the journal Academic Medicine. The women reported working longer hours, and taking on more administrative and professional activities, than did the men. Female faculty members, across faculty ranks, had fewer publications across all ranks. After controlling for productivity and other factors, female researchers in the life sciences earned, on average, $13,226 less a year than did male researchers.
The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is kicking off a series of regional meetings today to discuss the future of the public research university. The meetings will include university presidents and other experts who will review trends in state and federal support, the growing gaps financially between public and private research universities, and ideas for preserving the quality of the institutions. Today's meeting is at the University of Texas at Austin. The rest of the meetings, also in April, will be at the Universities of Georgia, Washington, and Wisconsin at Madison, and at Rutgers University.
The Longy School of Music, a conservatory with undergraduate and graduate programs in Cambridge, Mass., may merge with Bard College, The Boston Globe reported. The school has come through a difficult financial period, in which some instructors saw their jobs eliminated and the faculty voted to unionize, and is now looking for a partner rather than remaining a free-standing institution.
Duke University and Mike Pressler, who was the lacrosse coach when false rape accusations were made against three team members, have settled a slander suit by Pressler, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Pressler's suit focused on comparisons the university made between him and his successor after he was forced out in 2006, amid the scandal over the allegations that (at that time) were widely treated as fact. No details were released about the settlement, except that Duke issued this statement: "Coach Michael Pressler is an excellent coach. He did a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program, while maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate in his 16 years. Duke University regrets any adverse consequences that the Newsday or AP article had on Coach Pressler or his family. Duke wishes nothing but the best for Coach Pressler in his future endeavors, especially at Bryant University and as he leads Team USA in the World Lacrosse Championships."