Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 5, 2009

Stanford University is seeking to sell $1 billion in investment assets, including shares in companies, real estate and timberland, The Wall Street Journal reported. The sales are generally only portions of Stanford's holdings in the investments, and come as the university seeks to recover from substantial endowment losses that have created severe short-term financial difficulties, even though the university has one of the largest endowments in the world.

October 5, 2009

The National Science Foundation announced a new round of grants for a controversial program in which social scientists conduct research relevant to the needs of the Department of Defense. Among the research topics receiving funding: "Terror, Conflict Processes, Organizations, and Ideologies: Completing the Picture," "How Politics Inside Dictatorships Affects Regime Stability and International Conflict," "Strategies of Violence, Tools of Peace, and Changes in War Termination" and "Avoiding Water Wars: Environmental Security Through River Treaty Institutionalization." While Defense Department officials have pledged complete academic freedom for the scholars working in the program, and some university officials see this effort as long overdue, some professors have criticized the military connection to the program. Those criticisms led to the enhanced NSF role in the effort.

October 5, 2009

Authorities have arrested three students at the University of California at Los Angeles, and four others, in charges related to a fight at an off-campus fraternity party, the Los Angeles Times reported. Two of the students are charged with attempted murder, and the third is charged as an accessory. While arrests related to fraternity parties are not rare, arrests of students for attempted murder are. While details of the fight have not been released, authorities said that all of those arrested were "uninvited guests." One student was stabbed in the abdomen at the party and required surgery. Another student was stabbed in the arm and didn't require hospitalization. A third student was hit on his head with a bottle.

October 5, 2009

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak were named winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this morning for the discovery of "how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase." Blackburn and Greider are the 9th and 10th women to win Nobels in medicine. Blackburn is a professor of biology and physiology at the University of California at San Francisco and information about her lab may be found here. Greider is a professor of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and information about her lab may be found here. Szostak is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Information about his lab may be found here.

October 5, 2009

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has removed from a key position a cleric who recently criticized a new university for enrolling both male and female students, AFP reported. The cleric had called the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology's policy "evil." No reason was given the for the king's removal of the cleric, Sheikh Sa'ad al-Shethry, from the council that sets religious policy for the country.

October 5, 2009

Morehouse College has fired a woman and reprimanded another employee over remarks they made in an e-mail mocking a gay wedding, and forwarding the e-mail to others from their Morehouse accounts, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Robert M. Franklin, Morehouse's president, has said several times that he believes the college must promote respect for gay people. In a statement, he said that the views in the e-mail "were the personal views of one individual and do not reflect the values or policies of Morehouse College.... The college has taken great strides toward building a diverse and tolerant community.”

October 5, 2009

The fallout continues to grow in the basketball scandal at the State University of New York at Binghamton. On Friday, Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the SUNY system, announced that the system -- and not the Binghamton campus, as previously suggested -- would oversee an audit of the basketball program. Also on Friday, Sally Dear was informed that she would continue to have work as an adjunct (although in a new department), reversing a recent notification that she would no longer have such work, The New York Times reported. Dear said that she believed her dismissal last month -- after teaching at Binghamton for 11 years -- was related to her willingness to speak out in the Times about the difficulty of teaching some athletes and pressure from the athletics department over grading.

October 5, 2009

Stanley O. Ikenberry, former president of the University of Illinois system and of the American Council on Education, was named Saturday as interim president at the University of Illinois, which is recovering from an admissions scandal that led to the resignation of B. Joseph White, who will leave the presidency at the end of the year. In a statement, Ikenberry said: "My top priorities will be to support the board in its search for an outstanding president and to work with faculty and academic leaders on all three campuses as we move forward to address a very challenging agenda. We have abundant energy and many friends and we’ll need both.”

October 5, 2009

The University of Wisconsin's medical school, like many medical schools, has been examining conflict of interest rules in the wake of reports about medical researchers' possible conflicts of interest from large speaking or consulting fees they receive from companies whose products they study, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The medical school is now divided over a draft ethics rule that originally barred such payments, but has since been amended to allow payments from medical device manufacturers. Some professors are upset that the medical professors who would be sought by such companies would have a loophole, and others are upset that those who would work with drug companies don't have their own loophole, the newspaper reported.

October 5, 2009

Education Management Corporation's initial public offering was priced at the low end of its proposed range Friday, but gained during trading after launch, the Associated Press reported. Education Management is the third education IPO since November, following those of Grand Canyon Education, Inc. and Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Education Management's holdings include the Art Institutes and Argosy University.

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