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Quick Takes: Visa for Scholar Denied, Opposing Research Access Law, Yale Tops Harvard in Endowment Growth, Morehouse President to Retire, New Chief for Phoenix, Career Ed Revolving Door, More Mumps, Student Editors Punish Themselves, Private Loans

September 26, 2006
  • The U.S. State Department has again denied a visa to Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss scholar teaching at the University of Oxford, who has been invited to speak and teach in the United States. In June, a federal judge ordered the government to either grant a visa or provide an explanation of why it would not do so. The visa was denied on the basis of donations Ramadan made to charitable groups in France that the State Department says support terrorism through Hamas. Civil liberties and academic groups are attacking the visa rejection, noting that Ramadan disclosed the donations, that the groups he gave money to are registered charities in France, and that Ramadan is seen by many as a leading Muslim voice against terrorism. Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, said he was "deeply distressed" by the latest action. "At this time more than ever, it is crucially important that academic discourse remains unfettered, and the government has struck a blow against that fundamental principle."
  • Several groups of provosts -- some from liberal arts colleges, others from research universities -- have been endorsing federal legislation that would require most federally backed research to be made available online, free within six months of publication elsewhere. Now a group of academic leaders is coming out against the legislation, saying that it would harm scholarly journals and hurt the peer review process. This letter features endorsements from senior officials at the State University of New York, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Chicago and elsewhere. Supporters of the legislation are attacking the new letter.
  • Yale University may be #2 in endowment size, but it topped #1 Harvard in rate of growth, according to data released Monday. Yale reported a 22.9 percent return on its endowment in the fiscal year that ended June 30, bringing the endowment to $18 billion. Harvard last week reported a 16.7 percent return, allowing its endowment to exceed $29 billion.
  • Walter E. Massey, president of Morehouse College for the last 11 years, has announced plans to retire at the end of the current academic year. Massey, who formerly held top positions at the University of California and the National Science Foundation, is credited with leading a major fund raising campaign and overseeing significant facilities improvements at the historically black college.
  • William J. Pepicello has been appointed president of the University of Phoenix. Pepicello, acting president since June, has served in a variety of positions at the university since 1995, including provost and vice provost for academic affairs.
  • Jack Larson will relinquish his titles as president and CEO of Career Education Corporation but remain chairman of the for-profit higher education company he founded, Career Ed announced Monday. Career Education is the second largest college company in the United States, but it has faced significant regulatory and legal turmoil, leading in turn to significant turmoil in its management ranks. The head of its legal team resigned abruptly less than three weeks ago.
  • The University of Virginia is investigating a "probable" case in which a student has mumps. The university is offering vaccinations this week for those students who didn't have them. An outbreak in the spring hit many colleges in the Midwest, leading to fears that more colleges could face difficulties with the disease. So far this fall, the only confirmed outbreak on a campus has been at Wheaton College, in Illinois.
  • The editorial board of The Daily Illini, the student newspaper at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has decided to stop itself before it makes any more mistakes. An editorial published Friday said that previous editorials were so full of mistakes that the newspaper was going to take a hiatus on publishing any editorials. Some editorials, this last editorial said, "provided nothing but misinformation and misrepresentation." The day before, the paper had published a correction to many of the points made in a previous editorial.
  • Exactly where the market in private (non-federal) student loans may be heading, and what the implications might be for students and families, colleges and governments, were at the core of "Footing the Tuition Bill: New Developments in the Student-Loan Industry and How They Are Changing the Way We Pay for Higher Education," a daylong seminar sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. A series of financial aid experts, policy makers, scholars and lenders offered their insights, predictions and warnings, and the resulting discussion, like many a Washington policy discussion with a broad topic, was all over the map. Participants generally agreed that the use of such loans was expanding rapidly, but differed on whether the use of such loans expanded access to (or at least choice in) higher education or threatened to push many more students into overindebtedness.
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