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Quick Takes: Yale Aid Plan, California Nomination Blocked, Change at Oral Roberts, Debt and Deals at Myers, Science and the '08 Race, NCAA Actions, Attack Was Faked, Scientists vs. Pope, Admissions Gimmicks, Transparency Takes a Hit in Federal Talks

Quick Takes: Yale Aid Plan, California Nomination Blocked, Change at Oral Roberts, Debt and Deals at Myers, Science and the '08 Race, NCAA Actions, Attack Was Faked, Scientists vs. Pope, Admissions Gimmicks, Transparency Takes a Hit in Federal Talks
January 15, 2008
  • Ever since Harvard University announced a major expansion of its aid programs, Yale University has been promising that it would soon release its own initiative. On Monday, the university announced its expansion, which is in many ways similar to Harvard's in that students from families with incomes under $60,000 will effectively pay nothing, while those eligible for aid will pay gradually increasing percentages of their income, up to 10 percent. While the Harvard aid would generally disappear at family income levels of $180,000, Yale went even higher -- to $200,000. Yale also announced a modest tuition increase for next year -- 2.2 percent -- or about the projected inflation rate. While Harvard and Yale's moves have received widespread praise, the Project on Student Debt is trying to discourage other colleges from helping those with six-figure incomes until they do a better job of helping those with minimal incomes. The project also released an analysis of the recent round of "no loan" pledges made by colleges and universities.
  • The president of California's community college board will have to step down because the state's Senate did not vote with a supermajority to confirm her, the Los Angeles Times reported. California law allows temporary service, for up to a year, pending confirmation in the position. Katherine Albiani, Gov. Arnold Scharzenegger's nominee, has been serving as board president under that law, but legislators who are Republican, as is the governor, blocked her confirmation. They voted against her because she had endorsed legislation, subsequently vetoed by the governor, to give some tuition breaks to students who cannot document a legal immigration status.
  • The board of Oral Roberts University, an institution facing a series of scandals, voted Monday to accept at $62 million gift that came with a requirement that the board be reconstituted, The Tulsa World reported.
  • A court-appointed receiver investigating the finances of Myers University has found millions of dollars of previously unknown debt, plus business relationships that raise conflict of interest issues, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. Among the potential conflicts: an insurance policy sold by the former board chair to the university.
  • A new Web site has been created to serve as a clearinghouse for the presidential candidates' positions on science and technology issues. The site -- created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Universities -- features the candidates' positions on topics such as competitiveness, science education, health care, and energy research. The information is largely a listing of candidates' stated positions and does not focus on stances taken by some candidates that run counter to scientific thinking -- Mike Huckabee's opposition to evolution isn't mentioned.
  • Canadian colleges will soon be able to apply for membership to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division II after delegates to the association's annual convention approved a pilot program on Monday. Details of the program are still being worked out, but it's possible that some colleges could become active members by 2011. This pilot program will also allow the association to address any potential logistical challenges that are inherent in competing outside the United States. NCAA officials have said it's likely that no more than 10 institutions would seek to join. In other NCAA developments, the Division I Board of Directors passed a measure Monday that provides more safeguards for students who are pregnant or have other medical conditions such as depression. Previously, NCAA regulations stated that aid based on athletics ability couldn't be affected “because of any injury” that prevents an athlete from playing. Now included among the protected are those suffering from “illness or medical conditions." The issue garnered national attention in the wake of reports that several Clemson University athletes had abortions in order to remain eligible. Also, in response to the football playoff proposal from Michael J. Adams, president of the University of Georgia, the Division I board said the proper place to address the issue is at the conference level. The group announced the formation of a task force to look at issues of commercialism and athlete welfare "associated with intercollegiate athletics, including all postseason football." Division III delegates passed a measure that limits the use of male practice players in women's sports to one practice per week, and requires that the number of male players isn't more than half the number of a starting squad in a given sport. The rule goes into effect Aug. 1. And two days after Division I upheld a ban on coaches text messaging high school recruits, Divisions II and II also confirmed their own measures. The Division III regulation bans the practice completely and will go into effect in August, and the Division II version prohibits texting prospects, except after they have signed letters of intent. Division I also modified its ban to include that provision.
  • Two women's lacrosse players at Presbyterian College, in South Carolina, are facing criminal charges after police say they admitted making up an assault last month on one of them, WYFF News reported. One of the women admitted hitting the other with a lacrosse stick to provide evidence that an attack took place. Police said that the motive for the false report was stress over final exams. Both of the women are white and the student who reported that she was assaulted said she was attacked by a black man who jumped out of the woods. Police spent a month on the case before determining that it was made up. The college has suspended the two students from the lacrosse team and referred the case to the student judicial system.
  • Scientists are protesting a planned visit by Pope Benedict to La Sapienza Thursday to open the semester at Rome's top university, Reuters reported. The researchers are angry over comments made by the pope, when he was a cardinal, suggesting that church leaders were correct to put Galileo on trial. Some authorities are saying, however, that the comments were a description of an Austrian philosopher's views, and were not intended by the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to represent his views.
  • What are some of the gimmicks applicants are using this year to impress admissions officers? Words pasted to a Scrabble board and a chocolate college seal are among the strategies detailed in an article in The Boston Globe. But the article quoted admissions officer as saying that these and other gimmicks rarely work.
  • As a federal panel negotiating possible regulations governing federal student loan programs began its work Monday, the members -- before they started discussing substantive issues such as income based repayment -- had to agree on the "protocols" or principles to guide their deliberations. One -- covering their dealings with the news media -- proved thorny. The starting point for discussion was a guideline approved last week by a parallel panel deliberating possible regulations for a new federal teacher education grant, which said that "members will refrain from characterizing the views, motives, and interests of other members during contact with the media." Some members of the loan panel, however, thought that the group should further limit discussions, and urged that the panel reinstate previously used language saying that "contact with the press will generally be limited to discussion of the overall objectives and progress of the negotiations." Some members of the panel, like Mark Pelesh of Corinthian Colleges, argued that such an approach could stop committee members from better explaining to reporters the positions they had taken during the negotiations -- in effect limiting the flow of accurate and thorough information. And Luke Swarthout of U.S. PIRG said he did not believe that that language should be read to restrict panel members from discussing their views with reporters. But other panel members, led by Tom Levandowski of Wachovia Corp., said that members should be doing their talking at the negotiating table, and that it would be "counterproductive" for them to make their arguments better to reporters than they had in the public negotiating sessions. "The easiest way to address that subjectivity is to limit ourselves," Levandowski said. Proponents of clamping down on the negotiators' discussions with reporters got a boost from the committee's "facilitator," Howard Bellman, who said that potentially contentious negotiations like this one benefit from the less that participants say in characterizing their progress -- and that the proposed guidelines would produce comments from negotiators that would "get as close to nothing as you can get.... Those kind of diplomatic pronouncements work," he said. With that, the members approved the language limiting interaction with reporters. Take that, Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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