Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 31, 2013

A faculty investigative committee at the University of California at Berkeley has determined that Terrence Deacon, a professor there who was accused of plagiarism in an unusually public manner, did not commit academic misconduct.

The research misconduct allegations were levied by Michael Lissack, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, on behalf of himself and two other researchers, Alicia Juarrero, a professor emerita at Prince George’s Community College, and Carl Rubino, a classics professor at Hamilton College. In addition to filing a complaint with Berkeley’s administration, Lissack also created a website detailing the works in question and tracking each instance of supposed plagiarism.

In response, Berkeley has taken the unusual step of creating a website detailing the committee’s findings, which exonerate Deacon. The committee’s findings state that overlap between one of Juarrero’s books and Deacon’s Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter was merely the result of two authors writing about the same topic. In other instances of alleged plagiarism, the committee found, Deacon’s works were actually published or submitted to the publisher before the supposedly plagiarized works were available.

The Berkeley committee also addresses Lissack’s assertion that failing to cite an important work in one’s field constitutes plagiarism. Calling this a “novel standard,” the committee argues that works by Juarrero, Rubino and Lissack also fail to cite previous research in their fields. The committee writes that neglecting an important work is not within the scope of plagiarism, generally defined as knowingly or recklessly using someone else’s words or ideas.  

The committee’s report concludes: “Would it have been better if Deacon had read and cited Juarrero’s book? Yes.… Still, the failure to cite an earlier work with the same subject matter, even an important one, is not by itself research misconduct.”

January 31, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Reichler of the University of Utah explains the connection between winds in the upper atmosphere and deep ocean currents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 31, 2013

The Drake Group was born out of a meeting at Drake University in 1999, but in the years since, the faculty group intent on reforming college sports has been a nomad, lacking a permanent home. But that will change now, with the group going "in residence" at the University of New Haven, the academic home of Drake's current president, Allen Sack. a professor of sport management. The Drake Group has focused its efforts on ensuring academic integrity in college athletics.

January 31, 2013

Former men’s tennis coaches at the University of Southern Mississippi (unsuccessfully) bribed a highly recruited player to stay on the team with $5,000 and a car, paid another athlete $150 to write an academic paper for him, and offered him $200 to come back and win an in-progress match, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association public infractions report. The NCAA announced Wednesday that it had cited the former head and assistant coach with unethical conduct and the university with a failure to monitor its men’s tennis program. The report also noted that the coaches’ refusal to participate in NCAA enforcement interviews and their encouragement of athletes to lie to NCAA investigators.

“The two coaches’ actions obviously fell short of what the NCAA membership expects of its coaches by their failure to act ethically,” Rod Uphoff, acting chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and law professor at  the University of Missouri at Columbia, said in a call with reporters Wednesday, adding that they also were "ruining" the "opportunities” of the athletes involved, who are now permanently ineligible.

In explaining the university's failure to monitor citation, the report notes a flouting of travel policies and procedures, lack of proper documentation and general administrative oversight of the tennis program, and failure to provide appropriate resources to compliance staff. Also, obviously, the coaches' behavior occurred under supposed administrative watch. The violations took place from January 2008 through May 2010.

Citations include public reprimand and censure; four years’ probation (through Jan. 29, 2017); a seven-year show-cause order for the former head coach and a six-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach, which will require any institution that wants to hire those coaches within that time frame to make its case for doing so to the NCAA; prohibition of foreign tour participation for men’s tennis until 2016; and a one-year postseason ban for men’s tennis, as well as vacation of all wins in which the former athletes competed while ineligible (both self-imposed by the university).
 

January 31, 2013

Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, will outline a plan today to add $1.5 billion over the next decade for science, mathematics and technology at the University of Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reported. The goal would be to increase enrollments in those fields by one third, and the funds would pay for new faculty positions, new facilities and full scholarships for top students.

January 31, 2013

Amherst has not tried to sweep a sexual assault problem under the rug, a committee told the Amherst College Board of Trustees at its meeting Wednesday, but it has often responded inadequately to cases of misconduct. After a string of rape allegations and accusations of administrative carelessness roiled the Amherst campus in October, President Carolyn (Biddy) Martin formed the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct to review policies and make recommendations to prevent and address sexual misconduct.

“This committee believes strongly that Amherst must acknowledge the problem of sexual misconduct openly and address it directly,” the committee said in its report, while noting that the problem is not unique to Amherst. “If our system is believed to be unfair or unjust it will serve no one well.” The college’s response to sexual misconduct cases have been “quite mixed and at times inadequate,” the report says.

Martin said in a letter to the college Wednesday that many of the committee’s recommendations are already being put in place. She also revealed the findings of a separate but related external review of whether Amherst followed its policies in responding to the student who made a visceral, public rape allegation that sparked a string of similar stories. The investigation found that Amherst failed at protocols that “precluded a successful response.”

Broadly speaking, the committee recommends that the college should: improve its compliance "to both the letter and the spirit of the law" of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; continue fostering an inclusive, respectful campus community; improve communication within student affairs, which was a major obstacle for alleged victims; try harder to integrate first-year students, especially women, onto campus; raise awareness of sexual violence and its effects in society and on campus, reach out to all campus constituencies – male and female; revisit its alcohol policies and student programming to encourage healthier drinking habits and more low-alcohol alternatives; and develop more appropriate spaces for social activity that are large, open, and minimize the risk of sexual misconduct.


 

January 30, 2013

WASHINGTON —  A panel discussion at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's annual conference here Tuesday highlighted differences between Senate Democrats and House Republicans as the deadline for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act looms at the end of the year. While many don't expect the reauthorization will be done on time, and perhaps will not be finished during this Congress, the panel highlighted a key divide between the parties: House Republicans, represented on the panel by Amy Jones, education policy counsel to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, favor some consumer disclosures from colleges but fewer mandates and regulations. Senate Democrats, represented by Spiros Protopsaltis, senior education policy adviser to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, are seeking metrics to judge college's value. They emphasized to accreditors that many on Capitol Hill don't understand accreditation or understand its value — a key concern since reauthorization is expected to touch on accreditation and related issues.

January 30, 2013

A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit charging that Kaplan Higher Education discriminated against black job applicants by rejecting some people seeking employment because of their credit histories, The New York Times reported. The suit, brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said that relying on credit histories has a disproportionate impact on black applicants. The suit was dismissed after the judge agreed to block testimony from an expert witness for the EEOC, finding that the way that witness identified which job applicants were black was not reliable.

 

January 30, 2013

For many fans, the continuing whirlwind of athletic conference realignment has been a mixed blessing: while it brings league-hopping programs greater revenue and visibility, it also puts an end to traditional college rivalry competitions. But one state legislator is refusing to accept the latter consequence. Following Texas A&M University’s move last year from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, Democratic Rep. Ryan Guillen has filed a bill that would require an annual football showdown between that institution and the University of Texas at Austin, The Texas Tribune reported. Under the law, if either institution chose to forgo the game -- which spanned a century before coming to a halt in 2012 -- it would face athletic scholarship reductions.

However, football fans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up. Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School, told Sports Illustrated that he doesn't think the bill has "a plausible shot” at becoming law. And if it somehow did, unintended legal consequences could follow, and the universities would likely claim it unconstitutional.

January 30, 2013

Student and faculty groups at Gustavus Adolphus College are calling for the resignation of President Jack Ohle, saying that he has ignored faculty members and tried to diminish their role, questioning his handling of budget decisions, and arguing that his approach is more like that of a business leader than an academic leader, The Mankato Free Press reported. A website called GustieLeaks has also started publishing documents -- some of them leaked -- about the dispute and about Ohle's leadership. Ohle referred questions to the college's board, which had the college spokesman issue a statement that it was reviewing the situation. The statement said that Ohle has been meeting with faculty and student groups to discuss their concerns.

 

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