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Quick Takes: Houghton Mifflin to Sell Textbook Unit, Damning Data on Defaults, Cutting Off Immigrant Care, Dorm Boxing Kills Student, Fight Over 'W,' Wedding Planning 101, FIRE Questions Suspension, Grawemeyer for World Order, Whooping Cough at Bob Jones

Quick Takes: Houghton Mifflin to Sell Textbook Unit, Damning Data on Defaults, Cutting Off Immigrant Care, Dorm Boxing Kills Student, Fight Over 'W,' Wedding Planning 101, FIRE Questions Suspension, Grawemeyer for World Order, Whooping Cough at Bob Jones
December 4, 2007
  • Houghton Mifflin said Monday that the publishing company had agreed to sell its college textbook division to Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning) for $750 million in cash. Houghton said the deal would allow it to focus on its elementary and secondary school market, following on its $4 billion purchase this summer of Harcourt Education.
  • As if on cue, the U.S. Education Department on Friday released data that suggest how much higher student loan default rates would be if they were reported over a longer time frame, as legislation pending in the House of Representatives would require. The data released by the department show that the average cohort default rate -- the rate at which a group of borrowers default on their loans by a certain point after the loans enter repayment -- climbs by at least a percentage point a year for every year that is added to the term. And the statistics also show great variation by sector in the rates of default. Five years after a cohort of borrowers entered repayment in 2002, the average "cumulative lifetime default rate" for the group of borrowers was 10.6 percent. But the rate was 6.4 percent for borrowers from four-year private colleges, 7.9 percent for borrowers from four-year public colleges, 19.3 percent for students from two-year public colleges, and 22.9 percent for borrowers from for-profit colleges, according to the department.
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, facing budget deficits, may stop providing cancer care to undocumented immigrants, The Dallas Morning News reported.
  • A student at the State University of New York at Binghamton was killed Sunday -- apparently accidentally -- during a dormitory boxing match, the Associated Press reported.
  • The University of Wisconsin at Madison has sued Washburn University, in Kansas, over its "W," the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Officials at Madison say the logo Washburn uses to signify its sports teams (a sample of which can be found here) too closely resembles Wisconsin's own "Motion W (see sample on this page), infringing on the university's trademark. Washburn officials told the Wisconsin newspaper that they had not seen the lawsuit, but were baffled. "We don 't understand how the two Ws could be a point of confusion," said Dena Anson, director of university relations.
  • George Mason University is offering a course on wedding planning, perhaps the first of its kind at a four-year college or university, The Washington Post reported. The instructor said that she faced administrative skepticism, but had no problem getting the minimum 10 students required to start the course (she now has 100). Students are a mix of those planning weddings for themselves, those interested in the tourism and events management industry and those seeking a different kind of elective.
  • The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has asked the president of Daytona Beach Community College to explain its decision to bar from its campus a student who has aggressively questioned whether the college's contractual relationship with its Follett-run campus bookstore is in the best interests of students. In its letter last month to President D. Kent Sharples, lawyers for the group said that it appeared that the college had punished Thomas Rebman for "engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment or for planning to attend a meeting of the Board of Trustees to present a grievance," by trying Rebman in absentia on charges of threatening a college employee and disorderly conduct -- accusations Rebman denies. FIRE asked that Rebman be allowed to return to the campus to finish his degree. College officials did not respond to requests for comment.
  • The University of Louisville on Monday night announced that the $200,000 Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order will go to Philip Tetlock, a professor of business administration at the University of California at Berkeley, for his 2005 book, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know (Princeton University Press).
  • An outbreak of highly contagious whooping cough -- affecting as many as 40 people so far, mostly students, with dozens more showing symptoms -- has led Bob Jones University to end its semester a week early and cancel annual holiday events, The Greenville News reports. Those affected are being treated in the field house because the infirmary is overflowing, and the South Carolina institution is hunting for antibiotics to fight the spread.
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