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The Cosby Scandal and Higher Education

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Over the past three to four decades, Bill Cosby has received honorary degrees from the following 23 institutions that, to date, have not rescinded the degrees:

Baylor University

Bennett College

Boston University

Carnegie Mellon

Colgate University

Drew University

Fordham University

Haverford College

Marquette University

Oberlin College

Paine College

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Sisseton Wahpeton College

Swarthmore College

University of Cincinnati

University of Connecticut

University of Pennsylvania

University of Southern California

Virginia Commonwealth University

Wesleyan University

West Chester University

William & Mary

Yale University

As Asawin Suebsaeng reports in an article published on July 31 by the Daily Beast, some institutions have policies against rescinding honorary degrees or that make it very difficult to rescind those degrees; others have never previously confronted the issue and therefore have no clear policies defining how such an action might be taken.

Since honorary degrees are generally the equivalent of lifetime-achievement awards, it would seem…

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Now That We Have Transformed Our Institutions to Compete with the University of Phoenix, It’s on Life Support

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In late March, I wrote a post titled “The Meaning of the Failure of the Online For-Profit Universities” It was a response to CNN’s hour-by-hour graphing of a dramatic one-day decline in the stock price of the Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix. The stock price had plummeted on the acknowledgement that the online university’s enrollment had declined by 53.7%, from 460,000 to 213,000 over the previous five years and the announcement that the university was implementing a severe retrenchment plan, closing dozens of “campuses” (student recruitment offices) and laying off hundreds of “staff” (student recruiters) across the country.

In that post, I ultimately posed this series of questions:

1. Are any administrators at our institutions ever going to admit that they were dead wrong about this supposed existential threat to our institutions?

2. Are any administrators ever going to be held accountable for being so incompetent that…

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Step Aside, Deanlettes. The Provost Fellows Have Arrived.

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following news item has appeared in this week’s digital newsletter from the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education:

“A Google search for the term ‘chief diversity officer’ delivers 5.6 million results. Many colleges and universities across the world have added an administrative post with the title of chief diversity officer in recent years. At some educational institutions, students have protested demanding that such an official be appointed.

“But at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, the position of chief diversity officer has just been eliminated. The position was created six years ago and was held by G. Christine Taylor. Dr. Taylor is no longer employed by the university. Before joining the staff at Purdue in 2009, Dr. Taylor was associate vice president for institutional diversity at Miami University in Ohio. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio State…

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The Popularity of College Football—and the Very Thin Line between the Cute and the Macabre

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Writing for the Lansing State Journal, Judy Putnam reports that a taxidermist named Nick Saade (well, at least it’s not “de Sade”) has attempted to capture the passionate gridiron rivalry between the Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines in a diorama featuring 22 stuffed chipmunks wearing tiny versions of the football helmets worn by each team. The diorama, which captures the moment just before Michigan State scores the winning touchdown, will be complete when the uniforms for the four chipmunks representing the referees are completed.

Putnam reports: “Each mounted chipmunk takes five to six hours to skin, stuff (using Styrofoam figures) and sew up. Putty and wires are used in the legs to put the chipmunks into realistic passing, throwing, catching and tackling positions. . . . Saade said he doesn’t kill animals for his projects. Instead he uses road kill, trapped nuisance animals and leftover parts from…

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How Access to College Educations Is Linked to the Decline in the Average Intelligence of Marine Corps’ Officers since the 1970s

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

A recently completed study by Michael Klein of the Brookings Institute and Michael Cancian of Tufts University, a veteran of recent U.S. military conflicts, explores the paradox that, since the inception of the all-volunteer force, the percentage of those with above-average intelligence who are serving in the military has dramatically increased while the percentage of officers with above-average intelligence has steadily declined. This finding is especially pronounced in the Marine Corps, in which the scores on the military’s General Classification Test (GCT) have shown an especially marked decline over the last 34 years: specifically,

1. Eighty-five percent of those taking the test in 1980 exceeded a score of 120, which was the cut-off score for officers in World War II. In 2014, only 59 percent exceeded that score.

2. At the upper end of the distribution, 4.9 percent of those taking the test scored above 150 in 1980 compared to…

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Academic Freedom, Freedom of Speech, and the Far Right

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In a number of instances, I have been told that many on the Far Right are every bit as concerned about constraints on academic freedom as Progressives are. When I have pointed out that most of the attacks on academic freedom seem to have come from Far Right political figures and commentators who are responding to what they see as the deeply entrenched liberal bias in academia, I have been told that the Far Right is not homogenous—that there is a grassroots movement for whom academic freedom is a core value to be protected and for whom campus speech and civility codes are very problematic for the same reasons that I find the legislative undermining of academic freedom to be so problematic.

I am very willing to grant that at both ends of the political spectrum there are those who are too willing to sacrifice academic freedom and the broader…

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The Department of Labor’s Guidelines on the Distinctions between Independent Contractors and Employees—and Their Application to Adjunct Faculty

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

One can argue that adjunct faculty whose primary employment is outside the college or university at which they are teaching are “independent contractors” in the strictest sense of the term.

But, for those increasing numbers of adjunct faculty whose primary employment is as instructors employed by multiple colleges and/or universities, the case can clearly be made that those institutions have been abusing the “independent contractor” classification every bit as much as employers in other sectors have been doing so. In fact, although increasing numbers of occupations requiring baccalaureate degrees or even graduate degrees are being “transformed” under this reclassification scheme, it seems very clear that higher education has almost singularly used this scheme to exploit those who hold advanced degrees.

Up until about a year or so ago, a significant percentage of those trying to earn their livings as adjunct faculty taught the equivalent of full-time loads at single institutions…

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The AFT Questionnaire for Presidential Candidates: Hillary Clintons’ Responses

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The American Federation of Teachers has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

But the AFT asked each of the candidates to respond to a questionnaire covering a wide range of topics, starting with K-12 public education but ranging far beyond that.

Excerpted in this post are the responses of Hillary Clinton on topics of most direct interest to college and university faculty.

_________________________

Escalating tuition and fees are leading to a growing number of students leaving college with overwhelming debt from student loans. This burden of rising costs and rising debt makes access to higher education increasingly difficult for many students and their families. What is the role of the federal government in ensuring that higher education is affordable and accessible?

HRC: First, too many young people are struggling under the burden of student debt and too many families are struggling to pay the rising…

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The AFT Questionnaire for Presidential Candidates: Bernie Sanders’ Responses

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The American Federation of Teachers has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

But the AFT asked each of the candidates to respond to a questionnaire covering a wide range of topics, starting with K-12 public education but ranging far beyond that.

Excerpted in this post are the responses of Bernie Sanders on topics of most direct interest to college and university faculty.

_________________________

Escalating tuition and fees are leading to a growing number of students leaving college with overwhelming debt from student loans. This burden of rising costs and rising debt makes access to higher education increasingly difficult for many students and their families. What is the role of the federal government in ensuring that higher education is affordable and accessible?

BS: Skyrocketing college tuition has left college out of reach for hundreds of thousands of students, and left millions more deeply in debt…

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The AFT Questionnaire for Presidential Candidates: Martin O’Malley’s Responses

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The American Federation of Teachers has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

But the AFT asked each of the candidates to respond to a questionnaire covering a wide range of topics, starting with K-12 public education but ranging far beyond that.

Excerpted in this post are the responses of Martin O’Malley on topics of most direct interest to college and university faculty.

_________________________

Escalating tuition and fees are leading to a growing number of students leaving college with overwhelming debt from student loans. This burden of rising costs and rising debt makes access to higher education increasingly difficult for many students and their families. What is the role of the federal government in ensuring that higher education is affordable and accessible?

MO’M: The federal government plays an essential role in making higher education affordable and accessible. While states like Maryland have worked hard to…

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