AAUP to Investigate Community College of Aurora

The AAUP will formally investigate the dismissal of a part-time (adjunct) professor at the Community College of Aurora in Colorado. The investigation will examine the facts of the case to determine whether widely accepted principles of academic freedom, necessary for educational quality, have been violated.

The AAUP will formally investigate the dismissal of a part-time (adjunct) professor at the Community College of Aurora in Colorado. The investigation will examine the facts of the case to determine whether widely accepted principles of academic freedom, necessary for educational quality, have been violated.

Doubts About Data: 2016 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology

Highlights: Questions about who stands to benefit from data-driven assessments, lack of concern about cyberattacks, dissatisfaction with the scholarly publishing landscape, continued skepticism about online education quality.
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Highlights: Questions about who stands to benefit from data-driven assessments, lack of concern about cyberattacks, dissatisfaction with the scholarly publishing landscape, continued skepticism about online education quality.

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At Alabama and Greenville, a backlash to anthem protests by black students

Black students nationwide have been inspired by and joined the protest started by Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League in which people decline to stand during the national anthem before athletic contests.

The protests continue to spread, and they are facing a backlash at some campuses. Some of the backlash consists of people making a case for standing for the anthem. But some of the backlash — especially on social media — is coming in the form of ugly comments directed against black students.

At a football game at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Saturday, a few dozen black students sat together and remained seated for the national anthem. (The football team at Alabama doesn’t appear on the field until after pregame activities such as the anthem, and so has not been involved in the protest.)

Saturday’s protest was the second at an Alabama football game, and students announced their plans in advance, using the hashtag #bamasits to organize and explain their views.

#bamasits pic.twitter.com/qQzq5FvLYg

— cleopatra ☥ (@aminafromthesix) October 22, 2016

As at other colleges and universities where students have protested, students cited police violence against young black people and the racism that remains present in American society.

At the game on Saturday, many white fans made a point of bringing and displaying U.S. flags, of placing their hands over their hearts during the anthem, and showing great enthusiasm for the anthem. (Some people do this during any game, but the patriotic activity was much more pronounced than during typical games.)

Many of those opposed to the protest organized around a hashtag of #bamastands.

On social media, many comments directed at the black students went beyond simply disagreeing with them.

Fuck these college assholes. They don’t have a fucking clue how the world operates. “Mistreatment of blacks.” Kiss my ass! #bamasits

— Bud Davis (@slumpbuster2001) October 22, 2016

#bamasits is a bunch of whiney uneducated children who are puppets being used by the media and liberals to push a dividing agenda.

— Aaron Williams (@Worship1AMW) October 22, 2016

Other comments criticized the Black Lives Matter movement that many of the protesting students support. And others wrote that part of being at the University of Alabama is supporting the flag and not protesting in this way.

Others expressed support for the protest, and some said that they felt new pride for Alabama after seeing these students protest. Many defending them noted that the protest was entirely peaceful and did not interfere with the ability of other fans to stand during the anthem. Many wrote that the responses they saw online and in person point to the reasons they supported the protest. “Today I was brought to tears as my peers bombarded our peaceful protest …. [I don’t know] why the hate is so deep,” one student wrote on Twitter.

The Facebook page on which Alabama students trade football tickets featured many divisive remarks about the protest — and one person who posted what was deemed a criminal threat against black students has since been arrested.

The Crimson White, the student newspaper at Alabama, published an editorial (after the first protest but before Saturday’s) that defended the right of students to sit during the anthem, and said that all should be concerned about a lack of respect shown to those who protest.

“It can be difficult to adjust to new perspectives; when faced with new points of view, some react explosively and insensitively because they don’t know how to accommodate a set of ideas that differs so heavily from their own,” the editorial said. “But this extends beyond gathering new perspectives. This is about deeply ingrained, institutionalized racism that has now pervaded even the simplest of American exercises — peaceful protest. We’re never going to agree on everything. But the least we can do is understand and respect one another.”

A statement from the university said that the protests have First Amendment protection. “The university supports the rights and ability of students to protest in a way that does not infringe on the freedoms of others,” the statement said. “The UA campus community should continue to be accepting, tolerant, open to differing ideas and opinions, and should treat one another with respect despite any differences. Not everyone will agree with opinions expressed by other individuals or groups, but these conflicting opinions and views are almost always protected by the First Amendment.”

Veterans on the Field at Greenville

At Greenville College, in Illinois, some football players in recent weeks have taken a knee during the national anthem, prompting discussion at the college and in the surrounding areas.

KSDK News reported that on Saturday, members of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars lodge — without permission from the college — marched to the center of the football field before the game. The football team was then told by college officials to go back to the locker room, although some students remained on the field.

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Protesting students and those protesting the protest at Alabama
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Black students nationwide have been inspired by and joined the protest started by Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League in which people decline to stand during the national anthem before athletic contests.

The protests continue to spread, and they are facing a backlash at some campuses. Some of the backlash consists of people making a case for standing for the anthem. But some of the backlash -- especially on social media -- is coming in the form of ugly comments directed against black students.

At a football game at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa on Saturday, a few dozen black students sat together and remained seated for the national anthem. (The football team at Alabama doesn't appear on the field until after pregame activities such as the anthem, and so has not been involved in the protest.)

Saturday's protest was the second at an Alabama football game, and students announced their plans in advance, using the hashtag #bamasits to organize and explain their views.

As at other colleges and universities where students have protested, students cited police violence against young black people and the racism that remains present in American society.

At the game on Saturday, many white fans made a point of bringing and displaying U.S. flags, of placing their hands over their hearts during the anthem, and showing great enthusiasm for the anthem. (Some people do this during any game, but the patriotic activity was much more pronounced than during typical games.)

Many of those opposed to the protest organized around a hashtag of #bamastands.

On social media, many comments directed at the black students went beyond simply disagreeing with them.

Other comments criticized the Black Lives Matter movement that many of the protesting students support. And others wrote that part of being at the University of Alabama is supporting the flag and not protesting in this way.

Others expressed support for the protest, and some said that they felt new pride for Alabama after seeing these students protest. Many defending them noted that the protest was entirely peaceful and did not interfere with the ability of other fans to stand during the anthem. Many wrote that the responses they saw online and in person point to the reasons they supported the protest. "Today I was brought to tears as my peers bombarded our peaceful protest …. [I don't know] why the hate is so deep," one student wrote on Twitter.

The Facebook page on which Alabama students trade football tickets featured many divisive remarks about the protest -- and one person who posted what was deemed a criminal threat against black students has since been arrested.

The Crimson White, the student newspaper at Alabama, published an editorial (after the first protest but before Saturday's) that defended the right of students to sit during the anthem, and said that all should be concerned about a lack of respect shown to those who protest.

"It can be difficult to adjust to new perspectives; when faced with new points of view, some react explosively and insensitively because they don’t know how to accommodate a set of ideas that differs so heavily from their own," the editorial said. "But this extends beyond gathering new perspectives. This is about deeply ingrained, institutionalized racism that has now pervaded even the simplest of American exercises -- peaceful protest. We’re never going to agree on everything. But the least we can do is understand and respect one another."

A statement from the university said that the protests have First Amendment protection. "The university supports the rights and ability of students to protest in a way that does not infringe on the freedoms of others," the statement said. "The UA campus community should continue to be accepting, tolerant, open to differing ideas and opinions, and should treat one another with respect despite any differences. Not everyone will agree with opinions expressed by other individuals or groups, but these conflicting opinions and views are almost always protected by the First Amendment."

Veterans on the Field at Greenville

At Greenville College, in Illinois, some football players in recent weeks have taken a knee during the national anthem, prompting discussion at the college and in the surrounding areas.

KSDK News reported that on Saturday, members of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars lodge -- without permission from the college -- marched to the center of the football field before the game. The football team was then told by college officials to go back to the locker room, although some students remained on the field.

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Protesting students and those protesting the protest at Alabama
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Federal regulators: university subsidies for grad student health insurance can remain

Federal regulators released guidance on graduate student health insurance subsidies Friday that should provide reassurance to universities considering whether they will still offer the subsidies. The guidance likely will be viewed as great news by many…

Federal regulators released guidance on graduate student health insurance subsidies Friday that should provide reassurance to universities considering whether they will still offer the subsidies. The guidance likely will be viewed as great news by many graduate students.

An Internal Revenue Service interpretation of the Affordable Care Act barred large employers from subsidizing employees’ purchase of health insurance on the individual market -- a view the agency applied even to student health insurance plans negotiated by a university with insurers. That interpretation had left many large public universities scrambling over the last year to identify alternative options to provide affordable insurance to graduate workers.

Many advocates for graduate students and leaders of universities said that the IRS interpretation ignored the many ways in which universities subsidizing graduate student health insurance are not typical of the kinds of employers that the health care law sought to regulate.

The government in February said agencies would wait until the 2017-18 academic year to enforce that interpretation. The new guidance released Friday by the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services indicates they will extend that nonenforcement indefinitely.

“We’re very appreciative of what regulators and the administration did today,” said Steven Bloom, director of government relations at the American Council on Education, which advocates on behalf of public and private colleges and universities. “We think it solves an immediate problem that many schools were having a difficult time figuring out what to do for the upcoming year.”

Bloom said ACE doesn’t consider the issue to be entirely resolved but for now said colleges and universities can continue what they have been doing to offer subsidized health insurance to graduate students.

The Kansas Board of Regents announced this month that public universities in the state would cease offering those subsidies next year in response to the IRS interpretation of the Affordable Care Act. Bloom said it’s possible some member universities that were considering the same decision as Kansas may reconsider in light of the additional guidance Friday.

Breeze Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Board of Regents, said there was now no reason for state institutions to stop offering subsidies currently in place.

“We are extremely pleased about this latest decision and hope that the federal agencies involved will make it a permanent one,” she said in an email.

In 2015, the University of Missouri announced shortly before the fall semester was to begin that it would stop offering subsidies for health insurance to its graduate students. In the face of protests and after the involvement of Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, the university changed course and reinstated the subsidies indefinitely.

Kristofferson Culmer, the president and CEO of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, said the group was relieved to see the extension granted indefinitely for universities.

“A lot of the options they were looking into were ultimately going to raise costs for individual students as well for the universities,” he said.

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University of Maine sets off firestorm with graduate center and mergers

An M.B.A. merger is making a mess in the University of Maine System.

Faculty members at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland, are upset at the progression of a plan that would have their institution’s M.B.A. program merged with the M.B.A. program of the flagship University of Maine in Orono. The merger is an early step in a plan to create a $150 million Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies that would eventually be built in Portland to house various merged law, M.B.A., public service and management and human service programs.

But unhappy faculty members feel they haven’t been included in the process of shaping the merged M.B.A. program or the graduate center, which some see as an early step in an attempt to create a unified state university. They feel some of the recommendations they did make were not taken into account. And they believe administrators are pushing the restructuring through too quickly and before important details are in place — placing their power over curriculum and governance in peril in order to satisfy outside influences pushing for the new graduate center.

Nerves are particularly frayed at Southern Maine, where faculty members view the University of Maine System of which they are a part with suspicion after a dispute over whether layoffs of 26 instructors in 2014 violated a faculty union contract went into arbitration that was settled largely in the university’s favor this year. There are fears that the M.B.A. merger amounts to closing Southern Maine’s program. Plans call for students of the merged program to earn University of Maine degrees even if they attend class on Southern Maine’s campus.

The local chapter of the faculty union is considering filing a grievance alleging that the university is violating its policies for closing programs. The university’s graduate council passed a motion urging Southern Maine’s administration to drop public support for the combination of the M.B.A. programs until governing structure and curriculum details are in place. To do otherwise, it said, would be misleading to current and prospective students.

Administrators maintain that they’re following procedures for establishing major university units and that they have engaged faculty members. They added that there is much work left to do on the merger and graduate center creation where faculty can be involved.

Tensions, however, have only grown in the last month as faculty members learned that the merged M.B.A. program is slated to start in the fall of 2017. The date was included last week as the university system published a business plan and announced its Board of Trustees would be voting over the weekend to endorse the graduate center concept along with a multistep implementation plan.

Trustees unanimously passed the resolution at a meeting Sunday. It specifically supports university system Chancellor James H. Page in efforts to find $15 million in grant support for an early phase of the plan. The development of a physical graduate center in Portland would follow at a later date.

“Maine’s universities are striving to be the state’s best and most responsive partner,” Page said in a statement after the measure passed. “The Maine Center plan is aspirational, exemplifying our One University commitment to move our state forward with innovative programing and stronger engagement with Maine’s business, legal and community leaders.”

Spokesman Dan Demeritt said that the implementation plan up for a vote was “very deliberate and inclusive.”

Faculty members don’t see it that way. Robert Heiser is an associate professor of marketing who directs Southern Maine’s M.B.A. program. The 2017 start date is a challenge, he said.

“At this point we have no governance, no curriculum, no processes, no admissions procedure,” Heiser said. “They have created chaos.”

Faculty members in the two business programs have been working toward agreements on issues like curriculum and governance for several years, Heiser said. There are some differences, such as the Southern Maine faculty fighting to keep specializations like data analytics and entrepreneurship. Southern Maine’s M.B.A. has more specialized programs than the flagship in Orono. It requires more credits — 36 versus 30.

There are also bound to be tensions between the two programs, especially because Southern Maine’s M.B.A. is larger than the one on the flagship campus in Orono. Southern Maine’s program had 71 students in 2015-16. The University of Maine’s had 52. Southern Maine is in Portland, which has a population of roughly 66,000 people, while the flagship campus in Orono is located in a rural municipality with a population of fewer than 11,000.

Still, Heiser thinks that faculty members would be able to come into agreement if left to their own devices. He hasn’t seen that happen with the larger graduate center being formed. He described faculty groups as being rushed and largely excluded from the design and planning of the center.

“I can still understand why, for strategic reasons, you might want to merge them together,” Heiser said. “We’re businesspeople, two schools of business, after all. It’s the how. Not the what.”

The business plan for the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies places significant pressure on the M.B.A. merger. It says that the merged M.B.A. program has the largest untapped market potential of the programs it will include. It also says the Maine Center’s design rests in part on the idea that the M.B.A. program can grow by serving part-time and full-time students. The existing M.B.A. programs largely serve part-time students who have careers.

The plan calls for increasing M.B.A. enrollments to about 200. It also says the existing programs failed to adapt to competition from Husson University, Thomas College and Southern New Hampshire University. Southern Maine’s M.B.A. enrollment has dropped roughly by half in the last five years, it says.

“Neither of the UMS M.B.A. programs responded effectively to the disruption of a principal market (midcareer Maine students) with offerings designed to carve out a marketplace distinction and a competitive advantage,” the plan says. “Continuing to compete only in the very market where they were losing share in spite of being cost competitive, the UMS M.B.A. programs suffered steadily declining enrollment.”

There is much division in the University of Maine System over the genesis of the center. System Chancellor Page has said its creation is backed by business and legal leaders. The university system hired two-time independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler in 2015 to spearhead the center’s creation, and it’s backed by Maine’s Harold Alfond Foundation. The plan was to be forwarded to the foundation after trustees’ Sunday vote.

The foundation has provided $2.25 million for early-stage center development, the Portland Press Herald reported. But two-thirds of the capital needed to build the center has yet to be identified.

The Maine Center business plan spells out a governance structure in which program heads — deans of law and business — would report to provosts and presidents at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine. The M.B.A. program head would report to the University of Maine, with other heads reporting to Southern Maine.

Faculty members weren’t properly involved in the creation process, said Susan Feiner, a professor of economics and women’s and gender studies who chairs the Southern Maine chapter of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine. The governance issues affect faculty members at both institutions involved, she said.

“The unions and Faculty Senate have already expressed how frustrated we are with the lack of inclusion of faculty in this process,” she said. “The whole M.B.A. thing has exploded in importance around the timing issues being imposed.”

Feiner also questioned whether the planned center would actually be an improvement over what the university system has in place currently. She’s not convinced the university studied the idea properly.

Additionally, she worried the M.B.A. merger could be used as a model to circumvent rules around layoffs at Southern Maine. The university system can’t close Southern Maine programs in order to hire part-time faculty members who will do the same job as those who were laid off, she said. But she worries the new model could allow a new entity to hire part-time faculty members to do the work of Southern Maine faculty whose programs were closed for the merger.

That’s not why the university system is pursuing the changes, said spokesman Demeritt. Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings said there is an agreement in place that covers M.B.A. program hiring concerns and governance issues.

“The UMaine flagship has agreed to basically roll our faculty into the M.B.A. program,” Cummings said. “A council of faculty will decide on the governance of this new entity.”

Cummings also said that the combined program does not have to be fully operational in the fall of 2017. He termed the date a soft launch, under which a few courses will need to be taught under a joint curriculum.

More broadly, the issues at hand are a reflection of how difficult it can be to bring programs and universities together, Cummings said. He sees potential positives to a graduate center on his campus despite the difficulties — it could provide important training, he said.

“There are so many agents inside and outside the university,” he said. “This is disruptive change at its best and at its worst.”

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University of Southern Maine
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Faculty members are unhappy over an M.B.A. merger at the University of Southern Maine.
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An M.B.A. merger is making a mess in the University of Maine System.

Faculty members at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland, are upset at the progression of a plan that would have their institution’s M.B.A. program merged with the M.B.A. program of the flagship University of Maine in Orono. The merger is an early step in a plan to create a $150 million Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies that would eventually be built in Portland to house various merged law, M.B.A., public service and management and human service programs.

But unhappy faculty members feel they haven’t been included in the process of shaping the merged M.B.A. program or the graduate center, which some see as an early step in an attempt to create a unified state university. They feel some of the recommendations they did make were not taken into account. And they believe administrators are pushing the restructuring through too quickly and before important details are in place -- placing their power over curriculum and governance in peril in order to satisfy outside influences pushing for the new graduate center.

Nerves are particularly frayed at Southern Maine, where faculty members view the University of Maine System of which they are a part with suspicion after a dispute over whether layoffs of 26 instructors in 2014 violated a faculty union contract went into arbitration that was settled largely in the university’s favor this year. There are fears that the M.B.A. merger amounts to closing Southern Maine’s program. Plans call for students of the merged program to earn University of Maine degrees even if they attend class on Southern Maine’s campus.

The local chapter of the faculty union is considering filing a grievance alleging that the university is violating its policies for closing programs. The university’s graduate council passed a motion urging Southern Maine’s administration to drop public support for the combination of the M.B.A. programs until governing structure and curriculum details are in place. To do otherwise, it said, would be misleading to current and prospective students.

Administrators maintain that they’re following procedures for establishing major university units and that they have engaged faculty members. They added that there is much work left to do on the merger and graduate center creation where faculty can be involved.

Tensions, however, have only grown in the last month as faculty members learned that the merged M.B.A. program is slated to start in the fall of 2017. The date was included last week as the university system published a business plan and announced its Board of Trustees would be voting over the weekend to endorse the graduate center concept along with a multistep implementation plan.

Trustees unanimously passed the resolution at a meeting Sunday. It specifically supports university system Chancellor James H. Page in efforts to find $15 million in grant support for an early phase of the plan. The development of a physical graduate center in Portland would follow at a later date.

“Maine’s universities are striving to be the state’s best and most responsive partner,” Page said in a statement after the measure passed. “The Maine Center plan is aspirational, exemplifying our One University commitment to move our state forward with innovative programing and stronger engagement with Maine’s business, legal and community leaders.”

Spokesman Dan Demeritt said that the implementation plan up for a vote was “very deliberate and inclusive.”

Faculty members don’t see it that way. Robert Heiser is an associate professor of marketing who directs Southern Maine’s M.B.A. program. The 2017 start date is a challenge, he said.

“At this point we have no governance, no curriculum, no processes, no admissions procedure,” Heiser said. “They have created chaos.”

Faculty members in the two business programs have been working toward agreements on issues like curriculum and governance for several years, Heiser said. There are some differences, such as the Southern Maine faculty fighting to keep specializations like data analytics and entrepreneurship. Southern Maine’s M.B.A. has more specialized programs than the flagship in Orono. It requires more credits -- 36 versus 30.

There are also bound to be tensions between the two programs, especially because Southern Maine’s M.B.A. is larger than the one on the flagship campus in Orono. Southern Maine’s program had 71 students in 2015-16. The University of Maine’s had 52. Southern Maine is in Portland, which has a population of roughly 66,000 people, while the flagship campus in Orono is located in a rural municipality with a population of fewer than 11,000.

Still, Heiser thinks that faculty members would be able to come into agreement if left to their own devices. He hasn’t seen that happen with the larger graduate center being formed. He described faculty groups as being rushed and largely excluded from the design and planning of the center.

“I can still understand why, for strategic reasons, you might want to merge them together,” Heiser said. “We’re businesspeople, two schools of business, after all. It’s the how. Not the what.”

The business plan for the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies places significant pressure on the M.B.A. merger. It says that the merged M.B.A. program has the largest untapped market potential of the programs it will include. It also says the Maine Center’s design rests in part on the idea that the M.B.A. program can grow by serving part-time and full-time students. The existing M.B.A. programs largely serve part-time students who have careers.

The plan calls for increasing M.B.A. enrollments to about 200. It also says the existing programs failed to adapt to competition from Husson University, Thomas College and Southern New Hampshire University. Southern Maine’s M.B.A. enrollment has dropped roughly by half in the last five years, it says.

“Neither of the UMS M.B.A. programs responded effectively to the disruption of a principal market (midcareer Maine students) with offerings designed to carve out a marketplace distinction and a competitive advantage,” the plan says. “Continuing to compete only in the very market where they were losing share in spite of being cost competitive, the UMS M.B.A. programs suffered steadily declining enrollment.”

There is much division in the University of Maine System over the genesis of the center. System Chancellor Page has said its creation is backed by business and legal leaders. The university system hired two-time independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler in 2015 to spearhead the center’s creation, and it’s backed by Maine’s Harold Alfond Foundation. The plan was to be forwarded to the foundation after trustees’ Sunday vote.

The foundation has provided $2.25 million for early-stage center development, the Portland Press Herald reported. But two-thirds of the capital needed to build the center has yet to be identified.

The Maine Center business plan spells out a governance structure in which program heads -- deans of law and business -- would report to provosts and presidents at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine. The M.B.A. program head would report to the University of Maine, with other heads reporting to Southern Maine.

Faculty members weren’t properly involved in the creation process, said Susan Feiner, a professor of economics and women's and gender studies who chairs the Southern Maine chapter of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine. The governance issues affect faculty members at both institutions involved, she said.

“The unions and Faculty Senate have already expressed how frustrated we are with the lack of inclusion of faculty in this process,” she said. “The whole M.B.A. thing has exploded in importance around the timing issues being imposed.”

Feiner also questioned whether the planned center would actually be an improvement over what the university system has in place currently. She’s not convinced the university studied the idea properly.

Additionally, she worried the M.B.A. merger could be used as a model to circumvent rules around layoffs at Southern Maine. The university system can’t close Southern Maine programs in order to hire part-time faculty members who will do the same job as those who were laid off, she said. But she worries the new model could allow a new entity to hire part-time faculty members to do the work of Southern Maine faculty whose programs were closed for the merger.

That’s not why the university system is pursuing the changes, said spokesman Demeritt. Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings said there is an agreement in place that covers M.B.A. program hiring concerns and governance issues.

“The UMaine flagship has agreed to basically roll our faculty into the M.B.A. program,” Cummings said. “A council of faculty will decide on the governance of this new entity.”

Cummings also said that the combined program does not have to be fully operational in the fall of 2017. He termed the date a soft launch, under which a few courses will need to be taught under a joint curriculum.

More broadly, the issues at hand are a reflection of how difficult it can be to bring programs and universities together, Cummings said. He sees potential positives to a graduate center on his campus despite the difficulties -- it could provide important training, he said.

“There are so many agents inside and outside the university,” he said. “This is disruptive change at its best and at its worst.”

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University of Southern Maine
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Faculty members are unhappy over an M.B.A. merger at the University of Southern Maine.
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William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton and Mellon Foundation, dies

Relatively few major university presidents influence higher education more after they leave office than while they are in it. But William G. Bowen, who followed his 15-year presidency of Princeton University with nearly three decades of influential work as a foundation president and author, was one such person.

Bowen, whose death Thursday at the age of 83 was announced by Princeton Friday morning, helped lead Princeton through coeducation as its provost and, as its president (he assumed the post at the age of 38) from 1972 to 1988, oversaw the creation of the residential college system and saw its endowment more than triple.

From there he became president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where among other things he created an in-house research program to investigate doctoral education, college admissions, independent research libraries and charitable nonprofits. His time at Mellon also brought the establishment of several organizations that have had a significant impact on higher education, including the scholarly archive JSTOR and the art-focused ARTstor, as well as Ithaka, which seeks to accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology in higher education.

Bowen in Inside Higher Ed

Bowen may be best known of all, though, for his writings and commentary on higher education. His 2000 book The Shape of the River, co-written with Derek S. Bok, the former president of Harvard University, helped make an empirical case for the importance of affirmative action in college admissions. The Game of Life, in 2002, and Reclaiming the Game, in 2005, written with colleagues from Mellon, raised important questions about the sometimes deleterious impact of college sports at highly selective colleges and universities. Crossing the Finish Line, in 2009, provided evidence that major public universities were not fulfilling their historical mission of being engines of opportunity for disadvantaged Americans.

And 2013’s Higher Education in the Digital Age argued that technology was key to slowing the “cost disease” (a term Bowen and his fellow economist William J. Baumol coined to describe spending in higher education in the 1960s) driving up college tuitions, to the dismay of politicians and the general public.

The famously workaholic Bowen hadn’t slowed down much in recent years. This year brought the release of Lesson Plan, co-written with Michael S. McPherson, which explored some of the real (and imagined) problems in higher education today.

And he continued to weigh in on the important issues of the day. In 2014, amid a series of commencement addresses canceled by protesting students, Bowen — filling the hole left by a speaker who withdrew at Haverford College — castigated the protesters who had heralded the cancellation. Students, Bowen said in his address, “should have encouraged [the displaced speaker, Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor at Berkeley] to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counterarguments.”

Many of the remembrances of Bowen reflected as much on his personal generosity as on his professional accomplishments. Princeton’s current president, Christopher Eisgruber, followed his praise of Bowen’s time at Princeton and his postpresidency writings with this: “Bill was ever the teacher, and he mentored large numbers of scholars, policy experts and higher education leaders. I feel fortunate to have been in that group. Bill was always ready to offer counsel about the toughest issues facing higher education, and he did so with a combination of knowledge, insight, generosity and wit that will be missed by all who knew him. I owe Bill a great debt, as do many others who passed through this university that he loved so dearly.”

“Bill made an astounding array of contributions to the way that we understand and improve higher education in this country,” the Mellon Foundation said in its statement about his death. “He did so with infectious enthusiasm and exceptional intelligence that made working with Bill — because he never saw others as working for him — a great joy and inspiration.”

Bowen was a trustee of Denison University, his alma mater, and among his many honors, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012, and The Shape of the River won the Grawemeyer Award.

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William G. Bowen
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Relatively few major university presidents influence higher education more after they leave office than while they are in it. But William G. Bowen, who followed his 15-year presidency of Princeton University with nearly three decades of influential work as a foundation president and author, was one such person.

Bowen, whose death Thursday at the age of 83 was announced by Princeton Friday morning, helped lead Princeton through coeducation as its provost and, as its president (he assumed the post at the age of 38) from 1972 to 1988, oversaw the creation of the residential college system and saw its endowment more than triple.

From there he became president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where among other things he created an in-house research program to investigate doctoral education, college admissions, independent research libraries and charitable nonprofits. His time at Mellon also brought the establishment of several organizations that have had a significant impact on higher education, including the scholarly archive JSTOR and the art-focused ARTstor, as well as Ithaka, which seeks to accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology in higher education.

Bowen in Inside Higher Ed

Bowen may be best known of all, though, for his writings and commentary on higher education. His 2000 book The Shape of the River, co-written with Derek S. Bok, the former president of Harvard University, helped make an empirical case for the importance of affirmative action in college admissions. The Game of Life, in 2002, and Reclaiming the Game, in 2005, written with colleagues from Mellon, raised important questions about the sometimes deleterious impact of college sports at highly selective colleges and universities. Crossing the Finish Line, in 2009, provided evidence that major public universities were not fulfilling their historical mission of being engines of opportunity for disadvantaged Americans.

And 2013's Higher Education in the Digital Age argued that technology was key to slowing the "cost disease" (a term Bowen and his fellow economist William J. Baumol coined to describe spending in higher education in the 1960s) driving up college tuitions, to the dismay of politicians and the general public.

The famously workaholic Bowen hadn't slowed down much in recent years. This year brought the release of Lesson Plan, co-written with Michael S. McPherson, which explored some of the real (and imagined) problems in higher education today.

And he continued to weigh in on the important issues of the day. In 2014, amid a series of commencement addresses canceled by protesting students, Bowen -- filling the hole left by a speaker who withdrew at Haverford College -- castigated the protesters who had heralded the cancellation. Students, Bowen said in his address, "should have encouraged [the displaced speaker, Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor at Berkeley] to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counterarguments."

Many of the remembrances of Bowen reflected as much on his personal generosity as on his professional accomplishments. Princeton's current president, Christopher Eisgruber, followed his praise of Bowen's time at Princeton and his postpresidency writings with this: "Bill was ever the teacher, and he mentored large numbers of scholars, policy experts and higher education leaders. I feel fortunate to have been in that group. Bill was always ready to offer counsel about the toughest issues facing higher education, and he did so with a combination of knowledge, insight, generosity and wit that will be missed by all who knew him. I owe Bill a great debt, as do many others who passed through this university that he loved so dearly."

"Bill made an astounding array of contributions to the way that we understand and improve higher education in this country," the Mellon Foundation said in its statement about his death. "He did so with infectious enthusiasm and exceptional intelligence that made working with Bill -- because he never saw others as working for him -- a great joy and inspiration."

Bowen was a trustee of Denison University, his alma mater, and among his many honors, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012, and The Shape of the River won the Grawemeyer Award.

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William G. Bowen
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William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton and Mellon Foundation, Dies

Relatively few major university presidents influence higher education more after they leave office than while they are in it. But William G. Bowen, who followed his 15-year presidency of Princeton University with nearly three decades of influential work as a foundation president and author, was one such person.

Bowen, who died Thursday at the age of 83, helped lead Princeton through co-education as its provost and, as its president (he assumed the post at the age of 38) from 1972 to 1988, oversaw the creation of the residential college system and saw its endowment more than triple.

From there he became president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where among other things he created an in-house research program to investigate doctoral education, college admissions, independent research libraries and charitable nonprofits. His time at Mellon also brought the establishment of several organizations that have had a significant impact on higher education, including the scholarly archive JSTOR and the art-focused ARTstor, as well as Ithaka, which seeks to accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology in higher education).

Bill Bowen in Inside Higher Ed

Bowen may be best known of all, though, for his writings and commentary on higher education. His 2000 book The Shape of the River, co-written with Derek S. Bok, the former president of Harvard University, helped make an empirical case for the importance of affirmative action in college admissions. The Game of Life, in 2002, and Reclaiming the Game, in 2005, written with colleagues from Mellon, raised important questions about the sometimes deleterious impact of college sports at highly selective colleges and universities. Crossing the Finish Line, in 2009, provided evidence that major public universities were not fulfilling their historical mission of being engines of opportunity for disadvantaged Americans.

And 2013’s Higher Education in the Digital Age argued that technology was key to slowing the “cost disease” (a term Bowen and his fellow economist William J. Baumol coined to describe spending in higher education in the 1960s) driving up college tuitions, to the dismay of politicians and the general public.

The famously workaholically inclined Bowen hadn’t slowed down much in recent years. This year brought the release of Lesson Plan, co-written with Michael S. McPherson, which explored some of the real (and imagined) problems in higher education today.

And he continued to weigh in on the important issues of the day. In 2014, amid a series of commencement addresses canceled by protesting students, Bowen — the substitute for a speaker who withdrew at Haverford College — castigated the protesters who heralded the cancelation. Students, Bowen said in his address, “should have encouraged [the speaker] to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counter-arguments.”

Bowen was a trustee of Denison University, his alma mater, and among his many honors, Bowen received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012, and The Shape of the River won the Grawemeyer Award.

Image Caption: 
William G. Bowen
Is this breaking news?: 

Relatively few major university presidents influence higher education more after they leave office than while they are in it. But William G. Bowen, who followed his 15-year presidency of Princeton University with nearly three decades of influential work as a foundation president and author, was one such person.

Bowen, who died Thursday at the age of 83, helped lead Princeton through co-education as its provost and, as its president (he assumed the post at the age of 38) from 1972 to 1988, oversaw the creation of the residential college system and saw its endowment more than triple.

From there he became president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where among other things he created an in-house research program to investigate doctoral education, college admissions, independent research libraries and charitable nonprofits. His time at Mellon also brought the establishment of several organizations that have had a significant impact on higher education, including the scholarly archive JSTOR and the art-focused ARTstor, as well as Ithaka, which seeks to accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology in higher education).

Bill Bowen in Inside Higher Ed

Bowen may be best known of all, though, for his writings and commentary on higher education. His 2000 book The Shape of the River, co-written with Derek S. Bok, the former president of Harvard University, helped make an empirical case for the importance of affirmative action in college admissions. The Game of Life, in 2002, and Reclaiming the Game, in 2005, written with colleagues from Mellon, raised important questions about the sometimes deleterious impact of college sports at highly selective colleges and universities. Crossing the Finish Line, in 2009, provided evidence that major public universities were not fulfilling their historical mission of being engines of opportunity for disadvantaged Americans.

And 2013's Higher Education in the Digital Age argued that technology was key to slowing the "cost disease" (a term Bowen and his fellow economist William J. Baumol coined to describe spending in higher education in the 1960s) driving up college tuitions, to the dismay of politicians and the general public.

The famously workaholically inclined Bowen hadn't slowed down much in recent years. This year brought the release of Lesson Plan, co-written with Michael S. McPherson, which explored some of the real (and imagined) problems in higher education today.

And he continued to weigh in on the important issues of the day. In 2014, amid a series of commencement addresses canceled by protesting students, Bowen -- the substitute for a speaker who withdrew at Haverford College -- castigated the protesters who heralded the cancelation. Students, Bowen said in his address, "should have encouraged [the speaker] to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counter-arguments."

Bowen was a trustee of Denison University, his alma mater, and among his many honors, Bowen received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2012, and The Shape of the River won the Grawemeyer Award.

Image Caption: 
William G. Bowen
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Group releases draft quality standards for competency-based education

PHOENIX — A group of colleges that offer competency-based education programs this week released a draft set of voluntary quality standards for the emerging form of higher education.

Competency-based education is growing rapidly, with as many as 600 colleges seeking to create new programs. The standards, which the Competency-Based Education Network released at a meeting here, seek to influence the newcomers while also holding established programs accountable.

“Our goal is to provide standards to the field that institutions can draw on to inform the design or scaling of high-quality programs,” Charla Long, the group’s executive director, said in a written statement. C-BEN is a recently created membership group of more than 30 colleges.

Competency-based education typically offers flexible schedules for students, who can master the required learning objectives at differing speeds, sometimes testing out of work by passing assessments. The programs often include online, automated material. And faculty roles are different, with coaches and mentors as well as subject matter experts.

Regulators and accreditors have sent mixed messages about competency-based education, in part due to uncertainty about where the federal government stands. For example, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has been critical of the way the faculty role is defined and about adherence to the credit-hour standard in some programs.

Ted Mitchell, the under secretary of education, spoke here on Thursday. He stressed that the Obama administration remains excited about competency-based education’s potential.

“It means allowing time and place to vary” as students work toward a credential, Mitchell said. “I’m a big supporter.”

That said, Mitchell said underperforming programs could threaten competency-based education’s growth. He cited for-profit higher education’s inadequate “self-policing,” which might have helped differentiate bad actors from good.

“We need to be pretty strident about what counts as competency-based education and what counts as quality,” Mitchell said, adding that he expected a wide variation in the expanding field. “That doesn’t mean we live with it. We work hard to eliminate the ones that are on wrong end of the tail.”

He praised C-BEN for seeking to head off the “waste, fraud and abuse” that have dogged segments of for-profit higher education.

The risk is real, Mitchell said. That’s partially because the flexible, personalized nature of competency-based degree tracks can create “irresistible opportunities for those who maybe don’t have the best interests of students in mind.”

C-BEN created an online portal for the draft standards, saying it was accepting feedback as a team of experts works on the final version. The group plans to release the final standards early next year, but said they would be reviewed and updated based on data and other evidence for some time.

The standards focus on eight areas, seeking to assure that programs have:

  • Coherent, competency-driven program and curriculum design
  • Clear, measurable, meaningful and complete competencies
  • Credential-level assessment strategy with robust implementation
  • Intentionally designed and engaged student experience
  • Collaborative engagement with external partners
  • Transparency of student learning
  • Evidence-driven continuous improvement processes
  • Demonstrated institutional commitment to capacity for competency-based innovation

Competency-based education has plenty of critics, particularly among some faculty members who say it can be a box-checking approach that is inferior to traditional higher education. Proponents, however, said it can require more rigor and proof of learning, which in turn could influence traditional higher education.

It’s unclear if the standards eventually will help win over doubters, but C-BEN at least hopes they will show what a quality program can and should look like.

The Association of American Colleges & Universities has been a strong, nuanced voice on competency-based education. The liberal education group has pushed for coherent curricula with a strong general education core, which isn’t always easy in a form of higher education that has broken degrees into competencies.

Debra Humphreys recently was hired by Lumina Foundation, as vice president of strategic engagement, after a long stint as AAC&U’s vice president of communications, policy and public engagement. She praised C-BEN’s work on the new standards, saying the group was playing an “extremely valuable” role at an important time in the field’s development.

For example, she said the standards could help colleges define in how many areas a student in a competency-based program needs to be proficient to graduate. And strong voluntary thresholds could serve as “guardrails” for quality, which accreditors and regulators could use.

While both Humphreys and the group said the draft standards are the beginning of a long process, she said the stakes are high.

“This new innovation is going to rise and fall on its quality,” said Humphreys.

Assessment and Accountability
Accreditation and Student Learning
Image Caption: 
Under Secretary Ted Mitchell
Is this breaking news?: 

PHOENIX -- A group of colleges that offer competency-based education programs this week released a draft set of voluntary quality standards for the emerging form of higher education.

Competency-based education is growing rapidly, with as many as 600 colleges seeking to create new programs. The standards, which the Competency-Based Education Network released at a meeting here, seek to influence the newcomers while also holding established programs accountable.

“Our goal is to provide standards to the field that institutions can draw on to inform the design or scaling of high-quality programs,” Charla Long, the group’s executive director, said in a written statement. C-BEN is a recently created membership group of more than 30 colleges.

Competency-based education typically offers flexible schedules for students, who can master the required learning objectives at differing speeds, sometimes testing out of work by passing assessments. The programs often include online, automated material. And faculty roles are different, with coaches and mentors as well as subject matter experts.

Regulators and accreditors have sent mixed messages about competency-based education, in part due to uncertainty about where the federal government stands. For example, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has been critical of the way the faculty role is defined and about adherence to the credit-hour standard in some programs.

Ted Mitchell, the under secretary of education, spoke here on Thursday. He stressed that the Obama administration remains excited about competency-based education’s potential.

“It means allowing time and place to vary” as students work toward a credential, Mitchell said. “I’m a big supporter.”

That said, Mitchell said underperforming programs could threaten competency-based education’s growth. He cited for-profit higher education’s inadequate “self-policing,” which might have helped differentiate bad actors from good.

“We need to be pretty strident about what counts as competency-based education and what counts as quality,” Mitchell said, adding that he expected a wide variation in the expanding field. “That doesn’t mean we live with it. We work hard to eliminate the ones that are on wrong end of the tail.”

He praised C-BEN for seeking to head off the “waste, fraud and abuse” that have dogged segments of for-profit higher education.

The risk is real, Mitchell said. That’s partially because the flexible, personalized nature of competency-based degree tracks can create “irresistible opportunities for those who maybe don’t have the best interests of students in mind.”

C-BEN created an online portal for the draft standards, saying it was accepting feedback as a team of experts works on the final version. The group plans to release the final standards early next year, but said they would be reviewed and updated based on data and other evidence for some time.

The standards focus on eight areas, seeking to assure that programs have:

  • Coherent, competency-driven program and curriculum design
  • Clear, measurable, meaningful and complete competencies
  • Credential-level assessment strategy with robust implementation
  • Intentionally designed and engaged student experience
  • Collaborative engagement with external partners
  • Transparency of student learning
  • Evidence-driven continuous improvement processes
  • Demonstrated institutional commitment to capacity for competency-based innovation

Competency-based education has plenty of critics, particularly among some faculty members who say it can be a box-checking approach that is inferior to traditional higher education. Proponents, however, said it can require more rigor and proof of learning, which in turn could influence traditional higher education.

It's unclear if the standards eventually will help win over doubters, but C-BEN at least hopes they will show what a quality program can and should look like.

The Association of American Colleges & Universities has been a strong, nuanced voice on competency-based education. The liberal education group has pushed for coherent curricula with a strong general education core, which isn’t always easy in a form of higher education that has broken degrees into competencies.

Debra Humphreys recently was hired by Lumina Foundation, as vice president of strategic engagement, after a long stint as AAC&U’s vice president of communications, policy and public engagement. She praised C-BEN’s work on the new standards, saying the group was playing an “extremely valuable” role at an important time in the field’s development.

For example, she said the standards could help colleges define in how many areas a student in a competency-based program needs to be proficient to graduate. And strong voluntary thresholds could serve as “guardrails” for quality, which accreditors and regulators could use.

While both Humphreys and the group said the draft standards are the beginning of a long process, she said the stakes are high.

“This new innovation is going to rise and fall on its quality,” said Humphreys.

Assessment and Accountability
Accreditation and Student Learning
Image Caption: 
Under Secretary Ted Mitchell
Is this breaking news?: 

NCAA alleges Louisville violated rules in prostitution scandal, charges head coach with failure to monitor

The University of Louisville committed four major National Collegiate Athletic Association violations when a former men’s basketball assistant paid an escort service to provide strip shows and sex for recruits and other players, the NCAA stated in a notice of allegations sent to the university Thursday. The Level I violations charge the program’s head coach, Rick Pitino, with “failure to monitor” his employee, a serious allegation that could result in a suspension for the coach.

When the scandal first became public last year — after the head of the escort service published a tell-all book — the assistant at the center of the allegations, Andre McGee, said the claims were untrue. The university avoided confirming or denying the charges at first and backed Pitino when he said he was unaware of the misconduct. An internal university investigation and, now, an NCAA investigation have confirmed that the parties with the escorts did in fact happen, but Louisville officials maintain that Pitino, and the university at large, should not be punished any further.

“The NCAA does not allege a ‘lack of institutional control’ at Louisville, a very severe allegation,” the university said in a statement. “The NCAA does not allege that Coach Pitino failed to ‘promote an atmosphere of compliance,’ a serious allegation. The [notice of allegations] does contain a narrower allegation — which we will dispute — that Coach Pitino failed to demonstrate that he monitored Mr. McGee. We believe that Mr. McGee acted furtively and note that the NOA does not indicate that any other university employee besides Mr. McGee had knowledge of these activities. We are confident in Coach Pitino and we know he is and always has been committed to NCAA compliance.”

That the university continues to defend Pitino has angered critics of the athletics department, including some faculty members at Louisville. And experts on NCAA rules say that, while Louisville plans on fighting the charge against Pitino, the university already dodged several bullets. Other institutions that have run afoul of NCAA rules have also argued that knowledge of misconduct was limited to one or two staff members. Unlike Louisville, those programs were still hit with lack of institutional control and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

Mark Nagel, associate director of the University of South Carolina’s College Sport Research Institute, said the bizarreness of this case may have shielded the university from further violations.

“It is possible that the NCAA is saying that this type of action was unlikely to be predicted by the various compliance officials on campus,” Nagel said. “It may be that few, if anyone, on a typical campus would expect this type of behavior and so there should not have been an expectation of this happening and therefore a need to have a structure, beyond the coaches, in place to prevent it. Obviously, the standard for future cases may now be different because other schools should see what happened at Louisville and should better understand this is an area that needs tighter controls.”

While it’s true that paying for escorts is not a typical NCAA rules violation, it is also not unprecedented. The NCAA does not comment on ongoing infractions cases. The university now has 90 days to respond to the notice of allegations.

Whether Pitino or any other officials knew of the parties is irrelevant as far as the NCAA’s failure-to-monitor rules are concerned. In 2014, the association revised its rules to hold coaches more accountable for all violations within their programs even if they were unaware of the misconduct. “An institution’s head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach,” the revised rule states.

Pitino’s contract — which runs through 2026 — contains similar language. The coach is required to “diligently supervise compliance of assistant coaches and any other employees for which [he] is administratively responsible.” The dormitory in which the parties took place is also under Pitino’s purview. The building is designated for athletes and was built at his request.

The residence hall is named after the coach’s brother-in-law, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In widely criticized remarks made during a news conference Thursday, Pitino invoked Sept. 11 while denying his involvement in the prostitution scandal. “Fifteen-plus years ago, a plane went through the World Trade Center, and it altered the life of my family completely,” Pitino said, adding that he was not guilty of failing to monitor his employees, but was “guilty of trusting someone.”

The former escort, Katina Powell, said she was paid by McGee, the team’s former graduate assistant and director of basketball operations, to provide recruits with strip shows and sex during overnight visits in the dormitory. Powell said she was given about $10,000 by McGee for supplying dancers — including her own teenage daughters — for more than two dozen parties during a four-year period. In one instance, McGee allegedly offered the escort basketball tickets and a bottle of whiskey signed by Pitino.

The NCAA’s report largely matches Powell’s account. McGee, the association alleges, spent at least $5,400 on “impermissible inducements, offers and/or extra benefits in the form of adult entertainment” for at least 17 basketball recruits and players, as well as two coaches and a prospective athlete’s friend. The notice of allegations refers to these benefits as striptease shows and sex acts.

McGee resigned a year ago from his position as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he moved before the scandal broke, but maintained his innocence. “The university deserves a full-time assistant coach and I am not able to provide that to the basketball team while the false allegations against me are being investigated,” McGee stated. McGee did not cooperate with the NCAA investigation.

Throughout the process, the university has defended the coach, and Pitino has denied any knowledge of the parties. “I will not resign and let you down,” Pitino wrote in a blog post last year. “Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years, but that time is not now. I do not fight these accusations by others, but rather turn the other cheek. Couldn’t do it at 33, but at 63 it’s the wise thing to do. Let’s let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball.”

In the post, he also referenced Pope Francis’s recent visit to the United States, saying the pope would frequently answer controversial questions with the phrase “we will let God judge.” It is advice Pitino said Louisville students and fans should remember as the investigation continues. “Let’s not try to justify,” he wrote, “but let the Lord judge.”

Earlier this year, the University of Louisville self-imposed a series of sanctions, including a postseason ban, on the basketball program. In its statement Thursday, the university reiterated that it had already taken the “appropriate punitive and corrective actions.”

Nancy Theriot, a professor and chair of women’s and gender studies at Louisville, said the university’s continued defense of the coach and the program suggests that officials are not taking the underlying issues of the charges seriously enough. Theriot said the use of dancers and escorts is an extreme example of a larger and troubling tradition in which colleges woo recruits with attractive young women.

In 2013, Sports Illustrated reported that Oklahoma State University’s football program used a group of women to entice recruits. Officially the group, called Orange Pride, was meant to show visiting high school athletes around campus. Unofficially, according to Sports Illustrated, some of the women were having sex with the players. “There’s no other way a female can convince you to come play football at a school besides sex,” one former OSU football player said. “The idea was to get [recruits] to think that if they came to Oklahoma State, it was gonna be like that all the time.”

The NCAA ruled that the allegations were “unfounded” but found the university in violation of “engaging in impermissible hosting activities” for using Orange Pride in recruiting events. Such recruitment groups, or hostess programs, are not uncommon, despite the NCAA having banned “gender-based student hosting groups.” Louisville has used such programs in the past, too.

In 2007, the University of Colorado at Boulder reached a settlement with two women who said they were gang-raped at a party for recruits. The alleged assaults stemmed from a larger recruiting scandal that included strippers hired to entertain recruits and allegations that hostesses were being paid to sleep with the athletes. Scandals involving hostess programs have also occurred at Arizona State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University.

“I think the university’s challenge is an attempt to protect a coach that should have been monitoring his team and employees,” Theriot said. “The coach should be held accountable for monitoring his team and employees. Isn’t this part of why he gets such an outrageous salary? And Louisville challenging this sends a message that the university does not take this seriously. The student athletes are fair game for sanctions, but not the coach? Please!”

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University of Louisville
Image Caption: 
Rick Pitino, Louisville head men’s basketball coach
Is this breaking news?: 

The University of Louisville committed four major National Collegiate Athletic Association violations when a former men’s basketball assistant paid an escort service to provide strip shows and sex for recruits and other players, the NCAA stated in a notice of allegations sent to the university Thursday. The Level I violations charge the program’s head coach, Rick Pitino, with “failure to monitor” his employee, a serious allegation that could result in a suspension for the coach.

When the scandal first became public last year -- after the head of the escort service published a tell-all book -- the assistant at the center of the allegations, Andre McGee, said the claims were untrue. The university avoided confirming or denying the charges at first and backed Pitino when he said he was unaware of the misconduct. An internal university investigation and, now, an NCAA investigation have confirmed that the parties with the escorts did in fact happen, but Louisville officials maintain that Pitino, and the university at large, should not be punished any further.

“The NCAA does not allege a ‘lack of institutional control’ at Louisville, a very severe allegation,” the university said in a statement. “The NCAA does not allege that Coach Pitino failed to ‘promote an atmosphere of compliance,’ a serious allegation. The [notice of allegations] does contain a narrower allegation -- which we will dispute -- that Coach Pitino failed to demonstrate that he monitored Mr. McGee. We believe that Mr. McGee acted furtively and note that the NOA does not indicate that any other university employee besides Mr. McGee had knowledge of these activities. We are confident in Coach Pitino and we know he is and always has been committed to NCAA compliance.”

That the university continues to defend Pitino has angered critics of the athletics department, including some faculty members at Louisville. And experts on NCAA rules say that, while Louisville plans on fighting the charge against Pitino, the university already dodged several bullets. Other institutions that have run afoul of NCAA rules have also argued that knowledge of misconduct was limited to one or two staff members. Unlike Louisville, those programs were still hit with lack of institutional control and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

Mark Nagel, associate director of the University of South Carolina’s College Sport Research Institute, said the bizarreness of this case may have shielded the university from further violations.

“It is possible that the NCAA is saying that this type of action was unlikely to be predicted by the various compliance officials on campus,” Nagel said. “It may be that few, if anyone, on a typical campus would expect this type of behavior and so there should not have been an expectation of this happening and therefore a need to have a structure, beyond the coaches, in place to prevent it. Obviously, the standard for future cases may now be different because other schools should see what happened at Louisville and should better understand this is an area that needs tighter controls.”

While it's true that paying for escorts is not a typical NCAA rules violation, it is also not unprecedented. The NCAA does not comment on ongoing infractions cases. The university now has 90 days to respond to the notice of allegations.

Whether Pitino or any other officials knew of the parties is irrelevant as far as the NCAA’s failure-to-monitor rules are concerned. In 2014, the association revised its rules to hold coaches more accountable for all violations within their programs even if they were unaware of the misconduct. “An institution's head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach,” the revised rule states.

Pitino’s contract -- which runs through 2026 -- contains similar language. The coach is required to “diligently supervise compliance of assistant coaches and any other employees for which [he] is administratively responsible.” The dormitory in which the parties took place is also under Pitino’s purview. The building is designated for athletes and was built at his request.

The residence hall is named after the coach’s brother-in-law, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In widely criticized remarks made during a news conference Thursday, Pitino invoked Sept. 11 while denying his involvement in the prostitution scandal. “Fifteen-plus years ago, a plane went through the World Trade Center, and it altered the life of my family completely,” Pitino said, adding that he was not guilty of failing to monitor his employees, but was “guilty of trusting someone.”

The former escort, Katina Powell, said she was paid by McGee, the team's former graduate assistant and director of basketball operations, to provide recruits with strip shows and sex during overnight visits in the dormitory. Powell said she was given about $10,000 by McGee for supplying dancers -- including her own teenage daughters -- for more than two dozen parties during a four-year period. In one instance, McGee allegedly offered the escort basketball tickets and a bottle of whiskey signed by Pitino.

The NCAA’s report largely matches Powell’s account. McGee, the association alleges, spent at least $5,400 on “impermissible inducements, offers and/or extra benefits in the form of adult entertainment” for at least 17 basketball recruits and players, as well as two coaches and a prospective athlete’s friend. The notice of allegations refers to these benefits as striptease shows and sex acts.

McGee resigned a year ago from his position as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he moved before the scandal broke, but maintained his innocence. “The university deserves a full-time assistant coach and I am not able to provide that to the basketball team while the false allegations against me are being investigated,” McGee stated. McGee did not cooperate with the NCAA investigation.

Throughout the process, the university has defended the coach, and Pitino has denied any knowledge of the parties. “I will not resign and let you down,” Pitino wrote in a blog post last year. “Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years, but that time is not now. I do not fight these accusations by others, but rather turn the other cheek. Couldn’t do it at 33, but at 63 it’s the wise thing to do. Let’s let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball.”

In the post, he also referenced Pope Francis’s recent visit to the United States, saying the pope would frequently answer controversial questions with the phrase “we will let God judge.” It is advice Pitino said Louisville students and fans should remember as the investigation continues. “Let’s not try to justify,” he wrote, “but let the Lord judge.”

Earlier this year, the University of Louisville self-imposed a series of sanctions, including a postseason ban, on the basketball program. In its statement Thursday, the university reiterated that it had already taken the “appropriate punitive and corrective actions.”

Nancy Theriot, a professor and chair of women’s and gender studies at Louisville, said the university’s continued defense of the coach and the program suggests that officials are not taking the underlying issues of the charges seriously enough. Theriot said the use of dancers and escorts is an extreme example of a larger and troubling tradition in which colleges woo recruits with attractive young women.

In 2013, Sports Illustrated reported that Oklahoma State University’s football program used a group of women to entice recruits. Officially the group, called Orange Pride, was meant to show visiting high school athletes around campus. Unofficially, according to Sports Illustrated, some of the women were having sex with the players. “There's no other way a female can convince you to come play football at a school besides sex,” one former OSU football player said. “The idea was to get [recruits] to think that if they came to Oklahoma State, it was gonna be like that all the time.”

The NCAA ruled that the allegations were "unfounded" but found the university in violation of "engaging in impermissible hosting activities" for using Orange Pride in recruiting events. Such recruitment groups, or hostess programs, are not uncommon, despite the NCAA having banned “gender-based student hosting groups.” Louisville has used such programs in the past, too.

In 2007, the University of Colorado at Boulder reached a settlement with two women who said they were gang-raped at a party for recruits. The alleged assaults stemmed from a larger recruiting scandal that included strippers hired to entertain recruits and allegations that hostesses were being paid to sleep with the athletes. Scandals involving hostess programs have also occurred at Arizona State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University.

“I think the university's challenge is an attempt to protect a coach that should have been monitoring his team and employees,” Theriot said. “The coach should be held accountable for monitoring his team and employees. Isn’t this part of why he gets such an outrageous salary? And Louisville challenging this sends a message that the university does not take this seriously. The student athletes are fair game for sanctions, but not the coach? Please!”

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Rick Pitino, Louisville head men's basketball coach
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Brookings study finds growing disparities in student loan debt between black and white graduates

A new study released by the Brookings Institution finds disparities in student debt levels for black and white borrowers grow after graduation, a trend partly attributable to higher enrollment rates for black students in graduate programs, especially a…

A new study released by the Brookings Institution finds disparities in student debt levels for black and white borrowers grow after graduation, a trend partly attributable to higher enrollment rates for black students in graduate programs, especially at for-profit institutions. That jump in enrollment is linked to higher federal borrowing rates introduced in 2006 and the weak job market -- especially for black college grads -- after the 2008 recession.

Graduate enrollment is a worthwhile investment, the study finds, but comes with more financial risk for African-American students both because of their concentration in the for-profit sector and because of lower rates of graduation.

The study, written by Judith Scott-Clayton, a Columbia University associate professor of economics and education, and research associate Jing Li, is based on data from two nationally representative surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education of college graduates from 1993 and 2008. It calls for comprehensive data tracking student financial aid and debt by race and argues that focusing policy on undergraduate borrowing alone will address only part of the racial disparity in student debt. A number of scholars and advocacy groups are pressuring the federal government to begin tracking borrowers by race to aid research into the causes or size of racial disparities.

The Brookings report acknowledges that lack of adequate data could lead to understatements of actual racial disparities in student loan debt. Information on amounts borrowed, future earnings and loan defaults cannot be broken down by race, the study says, and information on race is not collected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the National Student Loan Data System, meaning researchers and policy makers don’t have information on racial disparities for those who take out debt and leave college without a degree -- a group especially likely to default on student loans.

Among the key findings of the study:

  • Almost half of black graduates owe more on their federal undergraduate loans four years after leaving college than they did immediately after graduating, more than double the rate of white graduates.
  • Black borrowers have a default rate of 7.6 percent within four years -- three times the rate of white graduates.
  • Black graduates with debt are more likely than white graduates to have interest accumulate faster than they pay off the balance of a loan.
  • Borrowing for graduate school accounts for 45 percent of the black-white student debt disparity.

The study also argues that income-driven repayment plans treat the symptom of the racial debt disparity without addressing the underlying causes.

“What was shocking was the magnitude of the debt four years after graduation. It’s huge,” said Scott-Clayton.

Debt shouldn’t be seen as a bad word, she said, but the study indicates that the system isn’t working the same way for everyone.

The study suggests that black graduates from the class of 2008 may have enrolled in graduate school at substantially higher rates than other groups did because of weak job markets. And more than a quarter of those graduate students enrolled in for-profit institutions, compared to 9 percent for white college graduates.

“That just begs the question what is going on in that sector,” Scott-Clayton said.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of education at Seton Hall University who focuses on higher education finance and student aid, said the study is revealing of the large role graduate student loan debt plays in racial disparities.

He said he had mixed feelings about collecting data on student borrowers’ race because asking about race on a form like the FAFSA could cause some students to think they would be eligible or ineligible for aid because of their race. The department would need to explain to borrowers that that information would not affect whether they received aid, Kelchen said.

But he said the only source of such data now is through national surveys with limited scope.

“It highlights the need for more data on student lending in general,” Kelchen said.

Pauline Abernathy, executive vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success, said the study underscores the need for the Department of Education to collect institution and student level data on student borrowers. TICAS was among 40 consumer advocacy and civil rights groups that sent a letter to Education Secretary John B. King Jr. in August asking that the department start collecting the data.

“It stands to reason that the disparities for more recent students could be even greater than what is in this report,” Abernathy said.

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