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Quick Takes: Rhetoric and Protest at Columbia, Education Dept. Unveils College Search Site, Genius Grants, What the CDC Missed, Berry Settles Rape Suit, Freshman Charged in Shootings, Student Satisfaction Gaps, Campus Visits, ACC Impact

Quick Takes: Rhetoric and Protest at Columbia, Education Dept. Unveils College Search Site, Genius Grants, What the CDC Missed, Berry Settles Rape Suit, Freshman Charged in Shootings, Student Satisfaction Gaps, Campus Visits, ACC Impact
September 25, 2007
  • With students protesting outside and presidential candidates lining up to condemn the event, Iran's president spoke at Columbia University Monday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's talk didn't appear to break any new ground in his views. As recounted in The New York Times, he dodged specifics on some of his more controversial views while reiterating his support for Palestinians, denying that there are any gay people in Iran and expressing indignation at the criticism he receives. Columbia's president, Lee C. Bollinger, introduced the Iranian leader with remarks in which he defended the appearance, but said that it was not about Ahmadinejad's right to speak but "our rights to listen and speak." In his statement, Bollinger also raised a series of questions about the lack of civil liberties in Iran and some of its leaders' more inflammatory statements. Bollinger told the Iranian president that he exhibited "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." The student newspaper live blogged the event for those seeking minute-by-minute coverage.
  • The U.S. Education Department is today unveiling a new (or at least revamped) Web site aimed at helping students and families find a college. College Navigator, which can be found on the Web site of the National Center for Education Statistics, updates the department's College Opportunities Online Locator, and is another prong in the department's efforts to carry out the recommendations of the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which called for greatly expanded collecting and reporting of information about colleges and their operations. The Web site allows interested students to search for information about individual colleges or to compare groups of institutions against one another, on such factors as cost (before aid, retention and graduation rates, campus security, and varsity teams. The site does not, however, include information on student learning outcomes, though the department (at the urging of the commission) has pressured colleges and accrediting agencies to collect and report such information. "The state of the art [in measuring learning outcomes] is in its infancy," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told USA Today, which reported news of the department's new Web site on its Web site Monday night.
  • Twenty-four professors, others scholars, artists and nonprofit officials are celebrating today, after being named MacArthur Fellows (the so-called "genius grants"), for which they will receive $500,000 in no-strings attached support. This year's winners include the founder of the Posse Foundation, an environmental geographer and a medieval historian.
  • Federal inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found "warning signs" of safety problems in Texas A&M University's biodefense research program, but failed to find examples of human illness and exposure until a watchdog group got involved, The Dallas Morning News reported. The newspaper obtained CDC records to examine what it found and missed at the university.
  • Berry College, in Georgia, has reached an undisclosed settlement with a former student who charged that the college did not do enough to protect her from an alleged rapist, The Rome News-Tribune reported. Few details were released, but the woman said that the rapist had assaulted and harassed another woman and attempted to rape yet another.
  • Loyer Braden, a freshman at Delaware State University, was arrested Monday in the shootings of two students early Friday morning. The News Leader reported that while many details of the arrest warrant were redacted, the public portion of the court document indicated that Braden had been involved in another fight last week and was angry about that altercation.
  • Students at community colleges are more satisfied and more likely to re-enroll than are students in other sectors of higher education, public or private, according to a study released Monday by Noel-Levitz, a consulting group that helps colleges on admissions and enrollment issues. The study also finds that students are more satisfied when they enroll at their first choice college, that black and Asian students are significantly less satisfied than are other students, and that those racial gaps are smallest at two-year career schools.
  • Colleges trying to recruit more low-income students need to get more prospective students to make campus visits, according to a new report from Eduventures. There is a direct relationship, the report says between the these visits and enrollment decisions, and low income students are currently less likely to make such trips.
  • Since Boston College joined the Atlantic Coast Conference two years ago -- a conference in which BC is far north of most members -- its applications from six Southern states with ACC members have gone up by 30 percent, The Boston Globe reported.
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