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Quick Takes: FBI Warning for Universities, Coaches' Courses Questioned, Court Upholds Right to Close Program, Impact of Loan Worries, Understanding When Students Seek Help, Georgian Court Goes SAT-Optional, New ECS Head, Defend Disabled and Lose Your Job?

June 12, 2007
  • Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been meeting with university officials in the Boston area, warning them that foreigners may be trying to steal research and offering to train faculty members on how to protect their work, The Boston Globe reported. Among the FBI suggestions are that professors never leave laptops in hotel rooms unless they are in safes, and that researchers report "unnatural or unexplained interest" in their work. An official of the American Civil Liberties Union questioned the campaign, telling the Globe that students or researchers might hesitate to ask legitimate questions if they fear that their queries could get them reported to the FBI.
  • Coaches at colleges in the Maricopa Community College District offer courses without textbooks, homework or exams, but in which almost everyone earns an A, according to an investigation by The East Valley Tribune. The newspaper reported that many coaches encourage their athletes to take the courses, which raise their averages. In at least one of these credit courses, class work included fielding drills and pre-game stretches. After the newspaper gave its findings to Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Arizona system, he ordered a full study of the classes.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that Clark Atlanta University has the right to shut down its engineering programs. The ruling upheld a lower court's dismissal of a challenge to the plan from students and faculty members. The Supreme Court ruled that under Georgia law, a suit can't seek to alter the management decisions of private colleges. If students or faculty members feel that they have been wronged in illegal ways, the court said, they can sue to seek damages for harm that they have experienced.
  • A survey of high school guidance counselors has found that while they believe student loans can be helpful to many students, worries about the risks associated with loans are having an influence on families' decisions on whether to send their children to college or which colleges they should attend. The survey was released Monday by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
  • As college officials increasingly discuss mental health issues in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre (see related article), the University of Michigan's School of Public Health and its Center for Student Studies are beginning the "Healthy Minds Study" this fall, with at least 15 colleges expected to participate. The study seeks to understand "help seeking" behavior among college students: Data from the pilot study, for instance, suggest that while 13 percent of students had positive screens for depression, fewer than half had received treatment in the previous year. Factors strongly associated with not seeking treatment included its perceived ineffectiveness, lack of awareness, stigma and low socioeconomic status.
  • Georgian Court University -- a New Jersey institution with a residential program for women and non-residential programs for men and women -- has announced that it will no longer require applicants to submit SAT scores.
  • The Education Commission of the States, which helps legislators, governors, and educators on state-level education policy, has named a new president: Roger Sampson, commissioner of education and early development in Alaska.
  • The Queensland University of Technology, in Australia, has suspended two senior lecturers for six months without pay because they spoke out against a Ph.D. project that involved making a movie that involved mocking people with disabilities, The Courier Mail reported. The Ph.D. project's film was called Laughing at the Disabled and involved putting two intellectually impaired men in situations they may not have fully understood, such as going to a pub to tell people they were looking for love there. The suspended lecturers spoke out against the film, saying that the university should not have approved the project because the men in the film may not have understood how they were being used. But the lecturers were found by the university to be violating academic freedom by suggesting limits on what the thesis could cover.
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