Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 8, 2009

A senior administrator at the State University of New York has taken the unusual step of publicly scolding trustees involved in the search for a new president of Nassau Community College for breaching confidentiality. The complaint, in a memo posted on the college's Web site, stresses the importance of confidentiality. Newsday reported on a series of e-mail messages involving trustees and some politically connected outsiders about the status of various candidates.

July 8, 2009

A former assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham engaged in scientific misconduct by reporting false information from research in seven publications, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. In an announcement published in the Federal Register, the agency's Office of Research Integrity said that Juan Luis R. Contreras, an assistant professor of surgery at Alabama-Birmingham, had agreed to exclude himself from federal duties for three years, although he did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the agreement. (This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct an error.)

July 7, 2009

George Washington University is planning to increase, to 10 percent from 6 percent, the share of its $1 billion endowment invested in farms, Bloomberg reported. The news service quoted one of the university's analysts as saying that the fund already has farm investments in Latin America and Eastern Europe and is now looking to Australia. The endowment data collected each year by the National Association of College and University Business Officers is not granular enough to determine whether GW's strategy is unusual.

July 7, 2009

The number of colleges participating in the new Post-9/11 GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program continues to climb. The program allows colleges to enter into matching agreements with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to cover charges over and above those provided for under the base GI Bill benefit. Two weeks ago, the director of the VA's Education Service said he expected the participation figure to stay pretty stable at around 700 institutions; the number has since grown to 1,165 participating colleges, however, and the VA is still finalizing a handful of agreements, according to a VA spokesman, Steve Westerfeld. Of the 1,165 participating colleges, 750 are private non-profit, 254 are for-profit and 161 are public.

July 7, 2009

New research from the University of Michigan finds that college students with depression are twice as likely as their classmates to drop out. The research also indicates that lower grade-point averages depended on a student’s type of depression. There are two core symptoms of depression — loss of interest and pleasure in activities, or depressed mood — but only loss of interest is associated with lower grade-point averages.

July 7, 2009

Franklin College, in Indiana, filed a complaint in federal court Monday seeking to stop Franklin University -- an Ohio institution that has opened a campus in Indiana -- from using the Franklin name in ways that the college considers confusing and an infringement on its trademark. Franklin College's president James Moseley issued a statement in which he said that many people who have seen the university's "advertising blitz" have been confused about whether the college was changing its mission. He said that the federal complaint was a "necessary decision to deal with a situation that could negatively affect our school’s good name and reputation. He added that the university's ads "include colors and a ’clock tower’ design amazingly similar to our logo." The university responded with a statement of its own, saying: "Franklin University is and has been publicizing its presence in Indianapolis using its own name in a completely factual and consistent manner.... Now that Franklin College has chosen to use the legal system to resolve this matter, rather than contacting Franklin University, Franklin University will certainly act to protect the right to use its own name to publicize its programs."

July 7, 2009

The Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission has ordered Edmonds Community College to restore the job of Margaret West, an adjunct whose contract was not renewed at just the point that she was elected to lead the faculty union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. West was in fact the first part timer elected to that post -- and the state labor board agreed with her complaint that she lost her position because of her union activities. The college was ordered to give her back her job and back pay. The AFT is hailing the decision, while a college spokeswoman said that the college was studying it and hadn't decided whether to appeal.

July 7, 2009

With summer jobs much more difficult for students to find, some colleges are hiring more students than in previous years for summer work on campus, USA Today reported. Saint John's University, in Minnesota, created 80 such jobs, most involving physical labor such as painting dormitory rooms, while the College of Wooster, in Ohio, hired more than 200 students for summer work, nearly triple the number hired most summers, the newspaper said.

July 7, 2009

The National Institutes of Health on Monday published final guidelines governing federal sponsorship of research on embryonic stem cells, rules that will have the effect of expanding scientists' access to existing stem cell lines and setting clear boundaries for creating eligible lines going forward. University research groups applauded the new rules, which the Association of American Universities said would "enable scientists to pursue groundbreaking research that will transform our understanding of human development and disease and lead to long-awaited and hoped-for cures and therapies."

July 6, 2009

An English professor who has served on the admissions committee of the U.S. Naval Academy has set off a debate at Annapolis and in military circles with an article suggesting that standards have been lowered to admit more black and Latino students, The Washington Post reported. Bruce Fleming's article, which ran in The Capital, charges that there are dual standards for white and nonwhite applicants, with significant differences in the grade and test scores required for the admissions committee to declare an applicant suitable for admission. The Post article noted that Annapolis officials deny admissions practices that go as far as Fleming suggests. But Fleming noted that as the Naval Academy has seen significant increases in black and Latino enrollments it has also seen significant increases in the percentage of students with mathematics SAT scores below 600 or who need a year of pre-college work (although the figures for those two categories of students are not broken down by race).

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