All posts by Andy Thomason


2 Resign at Portland State Over $100-Million Donation That Never Was

Two top fund raisers at Portland State University have resigned after a public-relations catastrophe surrounding a $100-million donation that never materialized. The Oregonian reports the president and chief executive officer of the PSU Foundation, Francoise Aylmer, and another fund raiser, Kristin Coppola, announced Friday they would step down.

Last week the university planned to hold a news conference announcing a $100-million gift from an unnamed former student. They called it off, however, w…


U. of Illinois Will Start Broadcasting Football Games in Chinese

Saying it has “more Chinese students than any other college,” the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is starting a Chinese-language broadcast of its football games, The News-Gazette reports.

“We’re hoping that this program is really going to help us engage with our Chinese students on campus, and also our alumni across the United States and abroad,” the athletic department’s assistant director of marketing, Karl Feak, told the newspaper.

The university has more than 4,500 students from China. Its total undergraduate and graduate-student population was just over 45,000 as of last fall.

According to the News-Gazette, the audio broadcasts will be more focused on explaining strategy for listeners who are not well-versed in American football.

Growing up in his native China, Bruce Lu became a “huge fan” of North American sports.

The University of Illinois junior started watching NBA games 10 years ago and American football during high school.

Now he will co-anchor a new Chinese-language broadcast of Illini football games, thought to be the first of its kind in the country. The broadcasts will be available free through the website and its new mobile app.

Read more at:


Less Than Half of Major Social-Science Studies Are Reproducible, Analysis Says

A study has found that fewer than half of 100 major studies in the social sciences could be replicated to produce similar results, The New York Times reports. Published in Science, the analysis was conducted by a team of researchers led by Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia.

The team sought to reproduce 100 studies published in 2008, but in more than 60 cases, the results came out different. That’s not a result of fraud, the researchers say, but an indication that the evid…


Are College Football Coaches About to Start Fining Players?

Earlier this year, the NCAA voted to allow colleges in the five biggest athletic conferences to increase athletes’ scholarship money so that it would cover the total cost of attendance — not just tuition, fees, room and board, and books.

In the ensuing months, colleges have moved to define exactly how much extra they’ll begin offering players, with some deciding to spring for more than $4,000 extra per athlete.

But for some athletes, that money might come with strings attached.

The defensive coo…


Ta-Da! U. of Pennsylvania’s ‘No-Loan’ Financial-Aid Policy Becomes ‘All-Grant’

The University of Pennsylvania has a new financial-aid policy. Or, at least, a new name for it.

The university’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, reports that Penn changed the name of its financial-aid policy this summer from “no-loan” to “all-grant.” A no-loan policy is one in which the university does not give out loans as part of financial-aid packages, instead relying primarily on grants.

Ron Ozio, director of media relations, told the newspaper in an email that the step was “just an effort to simplify the way we talk about” the university’s financial-aid program.

The newspaper also notes a student group protested Penn’s policy in the spring semester, saying the institution’s rhetoric on accessibility was out of line with its policies. The students pointed to the fact that many of them are forced to take out loans for expenses not covered by grants.

The financial aid program at Penn – touted as one of the best in the country – has been rebranded as an “all-grant” policy. Prior to the change made this summer, the program was referred to as a “no-loan” policy. The change is limited to name only – the program remains the same, according to the University’s financial aid webpage.

Read more at:


Virginia College Leaders Ponder Sharing Resources in Cases of Sexual Assault

Colleges in Virginia are thinking about pooling their resources to handle cases of sexual assault on campus, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. College presidents discussed the idea on Monday at a meeting of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Teresa M. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, said establishing a shared system would help smaller colleges comply with federal rules. She also commented on her own university’s effort toward that end, saying it came at a significant cost. “Would I have rather hired four faculty members with that money? Yes, I would,” she said. “But we needed to do this to be in compliance.” A UVa spokesman said the institution had spent about $1.5 million in recent years to comply with Title IX.

The proposal comes as colleges struggle to find their footing amid heightened attention to campus sexual assault in recent years.

Amid the mounting cost and complexity of new federal mandates to address sexual violence, Virginia’s colleges and universities are considering whether to establish a network of shared resources and investigators to address campus assaults. The idea was among issues discussed Monday during a meeting of presidents of public institutions at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Read more at:


Filling Out That McSweeney’s Faculty-Meeting Bingo Ballot? Send It to Us

If, in these hectic first days of the semester, you’ve been spending your time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the funny “First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo,” written by Lisa Nikolidakis for McSweeney’s. If you haven’t, go there for a good laugh.

Catharsis achieved. The bingo ballot certainly sounds like an accurate portrayal of higher-ed rhetoric, but is it? There’s only one way to find out: By asking our audience of faculty members to print out the lovely McSweeney’s ballot, take it to t…


This Is How Students Cheat in MOOCs

Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have identified a way students are cheating to earn credit in MOOCs. The method is the subject of a working paper, “Detecting and Preventing ‘Multiple-Account’ Cheating in Massive Open Online Courses,” published online on Monday.

According to the researchers, some students are creating at least two accounts in a MOOC — one or more with which to purposely fail assignments in order to discover the correct answers, wh…


Fraternity Suspends Old Dominion Chapter Over Offensive Banners

The national Sigma Nu fraternity has suspended its chapter at Old Dominion University after sexually suggestive banners, apparently hung for the occasion of students’ arrival on campus, were passed around on social media. The Associated Press reports that the national organization condemned the signs on Monday.

Here’s a picture of the banners posted on Twitter:


In Open Letter, 41 U. of Illinois Leaders Demand Steven Salaita’s Rehiring

[Updated (8/24/2015, 7:11 p.m.) with news of the provost's resignation.]

Forty-one campus leaders at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have signed an open letter calling on the institution to hire Steven G. Salaita, whose appointment to a professorship was nixed last year over the scholar’s anti-Israel tweets.

The message comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the campus. Earlier this month, a federal court ruled that the university had broken its contractual obligations with Mr. Sa…