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Quick Takes: Donors From Education Back Obama, No Outsourcing on GI Bill, Anti-Muslim Attack Declared Hoax, Needs of Adult Students, Catholics Outnumber Methodists at SMU, Unexpected Questions From Oxbridge, Has Harvard Law Finally Become Great?

October 20, 2008
  • The latest data from the Center for Responsive Politics -- an organization that tracks campaign donations by industry -- show that educators continue, overwhelmingly, to favor Barack Obama over John McCain with campaign contributions. The latest totals show Obama pulling in $12.2 million from educators while John McCain has received $1.5 million. Although her campaign ended with the conclusion of the primaries, Hillary Clinton raised more education money -- $4.3 million -- than McCain did.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it will not move forward with a plan -- controversial among veterans' groups -- to outsource the creation of an information technology system to be used for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA decided to rely on its own work force after it failed to receive enough proposals from contractors. "Many private contractors were apparently reluctant to offer proposals because of external misconceptions as to the scope of the work involved," James B. Peake, secretary of Veterans Affairs, said in a news release.
  • Authorities have arrested a student at Elmhurst College, in Illinois, who claimed that a week earlier that she had been attacked in a bathroom by a man with a gun who also wrote anti-Muslim statements on a wall. Police determined that she had made up the attack. The incident as she reported it prompted hundreds of students -- in the days leading up to her arrest -- to rally in solidarity with the college's Muslim minority. The college also stepped up security. The charge of filing a false police report is punishable by up to three years in prison.
  • Federal student aid policies need to be designed to better reflect the needs of adult students and to publicize the availability of aid to such students, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress. Another report from the group focuses on developing pathways to college for high school dropouts.
  • Roman Catholic students now outnumber Methodist students at Southern Methodist University, The Dallas Morning News reported. While there has been a Catholic presence at the university for 75 years, the article said, the population has grown steadily since the 1990s.
  • The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford have taken to having admissions officers ask unusual questions in interviews for admission. The Guardian reported that officials believe they may gain insights by asking would-be students questions along the lines of "How many monkeys would you use in an experiment?" "Would you rather be a novel or a poem?" and "If I were a grapefruit, would I rather be seedless or non-seedless?"
  • While Harvard Law School has long been presumed by the public (and movie makers) to be the top law school in the country, legal educators have known it since the 1980s for large classes, unhappy students and a divided faculty. But under the leadership of Elena Kagan, the current dean, many legal experts think Harvard Law School has achieved a truly unprecedented degree of eminence, The Boston Globe reported. Kagan is credited with small gestures (free coffee for students) and ambitious campaigns (a major hiring spree that raided top faculty talent elsewhere).
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