University News

This week in higher ed: Nov. 4, 2014

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University News Editors
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yale School of Medicine faces criticism over sexual harassment case handling

Faculty members at the Yale School of Medicine have voiced concern over the school’s handling of a sexual harassment allegation, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The university announced last week that Michael Simons, former cardiology chief at the medical school, “‘had decided’ not to return to his post” after being named in a complaint of sexual harassment, the Times reported.

Eighteen faculty members interviewed by the Times expressed worry that the announcement did not publicly acknowledge what they perceived as Simons’s wrongdoing, and some added that the handling of the case highlights high-level administrators’ lack of commitment to women’s advancement in the workplace.

Annarita Di Lorenzo, an Italian researcher at the medical school, filed the sexual harassment complaint with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct in 2011, according to the Times. In her complaint, Di Lorenzo alleged that Simons created a hostile work environment, pointing to an unwelcome love letter he gave her despite knowing she had a boyfriend. Frank Giordano, her then-boyfriend and current husband, also filed complaints, claiming Simons had tried to stall his professional career.

The committee responded to the couple’s complaints by recommending that Simons quit his post and be barred from any administrative position for the next five years.

“There will be continued concern by the faculty as long as Michael Simons is allowed to continue in his positions,” John Schley Hughes, a professor of medicine, told the Times, referring to the moderate and, according to those concerned, dodgy language of the press release.

 

U.S. Justice Department sues community college over anti-military bias

Pima Community College in Arizona is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice over an administrator’s alleged anti-military bias, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Monday. Discrimination in the workplace based on military service is illegal under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

The suit, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Arizona, alleges that an administrator twice denied a promotion to campus police officer Timothy Stoner due to his service in the Arizona National Guard, the Chronicle reported.

Stoner, who was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, failed to be promoted to police corporal in 2010 and again in 2013, the Chronicle reported. After the suit was filed, administrators started investigating Stoner’s case and recommended that he receive the promotion.

The suit singled out only one of two administrators responsible for the promotion decision, the Chronicle reported.

 

Over two dozen, including Cornell admin, implicated in UNC academic fraud

Nine employees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been fired or disciplined since the Oct. 22 release of a report revealing new information about a two-decade-long academic fraud scandal, Inside Higher Ed reported Monday.

The report, conducted by a former federal prosecutor, implicated at least two dozen current and former university employees in the scheme, which aimed to boost the GPAs of varsity athletes through the creation of “paper classes” that would award high grades for little or no academic work. Some of those implicated only knew about the courses, which did not meet academic standards, while others, according to the report, directly encouraged about 1,500 athletes to enroll in them, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Several of those implicated in the report left UNC to work at other colleges before the scandal broke, while some abandoned higher education altogether. Cynthia Reynolds, currently an administrator at the Cornell School of Applied and Engineering Physics, was heavily involved in the fraud scheme, according to the report, Inside Higher Ed reported.

While serving as the director of a support program for student athletes at UNC, Reynolds allegedly sent lists of academically struggling football players to those running the “paper courses.” In some cases, Reynolds also included the grades the players needed to maintain athletic eligibility, Inside Higher Ed Reported. Reynolds refused to speak with investigators who compiled the recent report, though she is currently cooperating with an independent investigation by the NCAA.

Cornell is encouraging Reynolds to cooperate with the investigations, though the university has taken no disciplinary action against her so far, Joel Malina, vice president of university relations at Cornell, told Inside Higher Ed. Malina declined to comment on whether Cornell has plans to conduct its own investigation of Reynolds.

Should Reynolds be named in the NCAA’s investigation, she could receive a show-cause order, which would apply sanctions such as “public censure” and probation on Reynolds even though she now works for a different institution, Inside Higher Ed reported.