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Quick Takes: New Mumps Outbreak, Professors' Textbook Choices, Earmark 'Reform' Passed, 'Macaca' Remark Costs Senator Honor From Black Colleges, Suits Against U. of Cal., Sale of Lecture Downloads Reviewed, Objection to Telecommunications Plan

September 15, 2006
  • Seven cases of mumps have been confirmed at Wheaton College of Illinois and six more are suspected, The Chicago Tribune reported. All of the cases appear to be under control and public-health officials said that the college had responded well. But the outbreak raises concerns about other colleges. In the spring, the Midwest experienced a sharp spike in mumps cases, with many of the cases turning up at colleges.
  • Seventeen professors place more emphasis in selecting textbooks on their effectiveness as a learning tool for every one who places more emphasis on their cost, according to a survey released Thursday by the Association of American Publishers. The survey -- based on a national poll conducted by Zogby International -- also found that most professors find their freshmen unprepared for college-level work and that classes are making effective use of a range of learning tools. The publishers' group has been fending off criticism about textbook prices, and the survey reflects one part of that defense -- that professors are picking materials for specific educational reasons.
  • The House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would require the sponsors of earmarks -- special measures to send funds to projects, frequently colleges -- to identify themselves. While Republicans hailed the measure as significant reform, many Democrats charge that it has too many loopholes and will not be effective, Reuters reported.
  • U.S. Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican, withdrew from a plan for him to receive a "leadership" award this month from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, which raises money for scholarships at public historically black colleges. Allen is under fire for calling a college student who was monitoring his campaign for his Democratic challenger a "macaca," a phrase viewed by many as an ethnic slur against South Asians. An official of the scholarship fund said that some donors asked that Allen's honor be nixed, and that the senator -- who has denied that he meant anything racial or ethnic with the remark -- decided to withdraw from consideration for the honor.
  • The University of California has paid $12 million over the last three years to settle lawsuits involving employment matters, including issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
  • North Carolina State University is reviewing a communication professor's policy of making digital recordings of his lectures -- and making them available online to his students for a fee, NBC 17 reported. The professor, Robert Schrag, told the network that he set up the system to help students whose schedules make it impossible to attend class and that he's only trying to cover his costs, not make a profit.
  • Educause and a coalition of higher education groups have sent a letter to Congressional leaders to oppose telecommunications legislation under review, saying that it does not adequately protect the need for colleges to disseminate content to students online.
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