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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Sixteen: Can College Athletics and Academics Coexist?

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← 476 | 477 →

Part Sixteen:  Can College Athletics and Academics Coexist?

In “Are Collegiate Athletics Necessary in Contemporary Higher Education,” Curtis M. Clock and Thalia M. Mulvihill argue that athletics and academics can ideally coexist despite some claims to the contrary. They view athletics as important to the mission of the university by providing a broad historical account of intercollegiate athletics and input from both student-athletes and nonathlete students. Presenting a rich review of the literature, Clock and Mulvihill also discuss such issues as role conflicts, skill-building sets in athletics as preparation for postcollege careers, stereotypes about “jocks” and gender in sports, and the opportunities that athletics allow underrepresented groups in society.

In “Academics and Athletics: Struggles and Strategies in the Pursuit of (A) Grades and (A) Games,” Sally Dear-Healey shares her personal experiences as a whistleblower in the basketball scandal at Binghamton University in upstate New York. She profiles a hierarchical structure that perpetuates itself through recruitment pipelines used to entice teens who have “big dreams of playing ball.” They are often academically unprepared, and then tracked through a college education that is subpar. Dear-Healey cites several studies and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) commission reports that suggest the need to redirect the focus of college athletics toward the primary academic mission of the university. She concludes that it is the collective responsibility of the professoriate to be guardians of the curriculum against transgressions that demean students’ learning needs. ← 477 | 478 →

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