Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 6, 2013

Peter Lach, dean of fine arts at Fairmont State University, has been charged by West Virginia authorities with second-degree sexual assault, and has been placed on administrative leave, The Charleston Gazette reported. A male employee told authorities that while he was in Lach's office, Lach pulled down the employee's pants and restrained him while starting oral sex. When the employee resisted, he said that Lach shoved him and that his head hit a copying machine. Lach, who is in jail, could not be reached.

 

August 6, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union is raising questions about why Florida International University called off a planned baseball game at its campus between players from a Cuban team and their former teammates who now live in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The university called off the game less than a week after it started selling tickets, saying that a "contractual matter" led to the decision and refusing to elaborate. The ACLU has filed an open-records request for communication between the university and an anti-Castro group. "We have troubling evidence that Florida International University canceled the contract for the event based on expectations about political speech or fears about hostile reaction from some community groups which may or may not occur," said Maria Kayanan, associate legal director of the ACLU of Florida.

August 6, 2013

The University of Iowa has earned the coveted — or dreaded — top spot on the Princeton Review’s list of the top 20 party schools in the country for 2014, which was released Monday in the publisher’s annual Best 378 Colleges guide.

Despite administrators’ three-year plan to curb binge drinking, the University of Iowa has been inching to the top of the “party school” list for the past three years. It was ranked No. 4  two years ago and moved up to No. 2 on last year's list. The university also earned the No. 1 spot on this year's “lots of hard liquor” list.

Spokesman Tom Moore said in an e-mailed statement that the university is continuing to work to "change the culture" on campus by educating students to only consume alcohol in a legal and responsible manner. In 2010, the Iowa City Council passed a 21-only ordinance, which raised the city bars’ entry age from 19 to 21 after 10 p.m. The percentage of University of Iowa students who engage in "high-risk drinking" is down from 70 percent in 2009 to 58 percent in 2013, according to the National College Health Assessment survey. There have also been decreases in alcohol-related crime and alcohol-related visits to hospitals, Moore said.

"In each of the last four years, alcohol harm to our students has decreased. It is, frankly, still too high," Moore said. "We are heartened, though, by the steady progress we have made, and are committed to continuing this progress."

West Virginia University, which was named the top party school last year, dropped to the No. 4 spot in this year’s rankings. The University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

The Princeton Review college guide includes individual profiles of each college, along with rankings based on an online survey of more than 122,000 students nationwide. The top-20 party schools rankings list is based on the answers from a combination of student survey questions about alcohol and drug use, hours of study each day and the popularity of the Greek system. Critics note that students are simply evaluating their own institutions and so the results are not based on actual comparisons.

Bloggers from BroBible (“the ultimate destination for Bros”) decided to take the “flawed” party school rankings into their own hands and created the “BroBible Party School Index” in April. The website scored universities based on a mathematical formula that combines rankings from a number of different lists and years. With an index score of 406.5, West Virginia University took the No. 1 spot on the BroBible’s 50 Best Party Schools list.

 Princeton Review's Top 10 "Party Schools"
1. University of Iowa
2. University of California at Santa Barbara
3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4. West Virginia University
5. Syracuse University
6. University of Florida
7. Ohio University at Athens
8. University of Wisconsin at Madison
9. Pennsylvania State University at University Park
10. Lehigh University

 

August 6, 2013

The Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University has issued a strongly worded statement criticizing the recent controversial push by the American Historical Association to allow new Ph.D.s to embargo their dissertations instead of making them available in university open access depositories. The AHA has said that making the dissertations available could hurt the chances of young scholars of landing book contracts, which they need to obtain tenure. But the Harvard statement said that the AHA has provided "no evidence" to support this view. Further, the Harvard statement noted a recent blog post by Harvard University Press suggesting that making dissertations available online may increase the odds of their authors finding a publisher.

August 6, 2013

The Lumina Foundation is putting $2.3 million behind a growing effort to reduce the regulatory burden on institutions that offer online courses to students across state lines, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Four regional commissions, including WICHE, and a number of other higher education officials want distance ed programs to be regulated by the state where they are based instead of by every state where they operate, a plan some hope will solve the longstanding, knotty problem of regulating cross-state institutions. Existing regulations requiring online programs to register in each state where they have students are simply being ignored

Lumina is funding a voluntary solution, which mirrors recommendations from a report issued in April. The so-called State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA, would create a national series of reciprocity agreements. States would be responsible for regulating distance ed institutions based in their states. Other states would rely on that home state's work. Distance ed providers, including traditional universities and for-profit providers, could expect a decrease in their paperwork and required fees. SARA would require states across the country to change their laws to accommodate the new regulatory framework.

The head of the New England Board of Higher Education said SARA is a workable solution.

"This agreement provides a timely and voluntary means by which state authorizers and postsecondary institutions nationwide can collaborate to address key challenges, including the ongoing profusion of online learning, the misalignment of state policy requirements, and the need to expand online access and program quality," Michael K. Thomas, NEBHE’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

August 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Brian Lowe of the State University of New York at Oneonta explains why Big Data is becoming a focus of academic inquiry. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 5, 2013

A University of Utah investigation found "reckless" misconduct in a lab, resulting in numerous errors in published papers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Errors have raised questions about 11 medical research papers published over the last five years. The investigation was prompted by the retractions of two of the papers. The author of many of the papers has been fired and the head of the lab retired. They and others affiliated with the lab did not respond to requests for comment.

 

August 5, 2013

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding that Troy University, a public institution in Alabama, abandon plans to open a dormitory restricted to those who participate in community activities with churches or faith-based groups. The foundation, citing the First Amendment's separation of church and state, questions how a public university could restrict access to people based on having a faith. Further, the foundation noted in a letter to the university that in some local press reports, Troy officials have been quoted as saying that Christian students would have preference for the spots, saying that non-Christians could move in "if there was space available." (Subsequently, a university spokesman disavowed that policy.) The university has not responded to the letter from the foundation.

 

 

August 5, 2013

A North Carolina judge has issued an injunction to block a new state law ordering the removal of four trustees from the board of Central Carolina Community College, The News & Observer reported. The law orders the removal of all four trustees appointed by a local school board, and bars those trustees from running again. The new law does not affect those trustees appointed by a county board of commissioners. The school board is controlled by Democrats, as are its appointees. The county board is controlled by Republicans, as are its appointees, and the state legislator who pushed the bill. A suit challenging the law charges that it is arbitrary, and that it is not the role of the state to remove community college trustees based on their party identification. Mike Stone, the state representative who sponsored the bill, said it was "totally legit."

 

August 5, 2013

Citing losses of approximately $7 million, Ave Maria University, in Florida, has sold its branch campus in Nicaragua, the Naples Daily News reported. The Nicaragua campus has been sold to the Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser University.

Pages

Back to Top