Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 10, 2009

Citing financial difficulties, Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut, will eliminate its men’s golf, men’s outdoor track and women’s volleyball teams at the end of the academic year. Jack McDonald, athletic director, said in an internal memo, “A variety of scenarios were explored to continue to provide gender-equitable and competitive opportunities for the greatest number of male and female student-athletes in these fiscally challenging times.” Quinnipiac is a Division I institution and a member of the Northeast Conference, but it does not field a football team.

March 10, 2009

Female college students may be drinking excessively based on a false assumption. A study published in this month's Psychology of Addictive Behaviors finds that many female students drink on the assumption that male students will find them more attractive. But scholars who polled male and female students found that, in a variety of situations, the women overestimate how much the men want them to drink -- generally by one and one half drinks.

March 10, 2009

Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, has been named as the next president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The foundation is best known for its fellows program (commonly called the "genius awards," although the foundation doesn't promote that phrase). Many academics have won those awards, but higher education has also received significant support from the fund through other grant programs. In 2006, the foundation started a five-year, $50 million effort to support studies on how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn and engage in civil life.

March 10, 2009

Florida and Connecticut officials are investigating the closure of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, a nationwide for-profit education chain, The Palm Beach Post reported. School officials blamed the closure on the tightening private loan market for students, but state officials are wondering whether students were admitted (and required to pay tuition bills) at a point when the school was already planning to shut down. One employee of a Florida branch of the school told the Palm Beach newspaper about an abrupt end to the program: "They had the students come in, sit down, and said, 'You're graduating tonight.' Isn't there a law where there have to be exams taken? They didn't take any finals."

March 9, 2009

A vehicle owned by a University of California at Los Angeles researcher was firebombed on Saturday, and underground animal rights groups have taken responsibility for the attack. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block condemned the attack, part of a series against the university's researchers. "The actions of extremists who use violent and illegal tactics are utterly reprehensible and beyond contempt," he said in a statement. "UCLA police continue to work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice those responsible for such unconscionable acts, and I encourage anyone with information to come forward." The Animal Liberation Front press office posted a message for the researcher: "We will come for you when you least expect it and do a lot more damage than to your property. Wherever you go and whatever you do we'll be watching you as long as you continue to do your disgusting experiments on monkeys."

March 9, 2009

The Education Department is reporting significant gains in applications for federal financial aid and in volume in direct lending. Both gains have been expected, but data reported to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators provide some details on the trends. Through the end of February, the department reported processing almost 3 million Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms for the 2009-10 academic year, an increase of 20 percent over a comparable period a year ago. The shifts reported in direct lending are also dramatic. As of February 25, direct lending volume was $20.2 billion, up from $13.1 billion a year ago. So far this academic year, the number of loans provided through direct lending is up by 1.6 million and the number of participating colleges is up by 548.

March 8, 2009

Conventional wisdom has it that economic chaos prompts students to seek college programs that are highly practical and that yield sure job offers. But music programs are experiencing a surge in applications, the Chicago Tribune reported, even as jobs with orchestras and arts groups are increasingly hard to come by. The Tribune reported that applications are way up for music programs at Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University at Bloomington, and DePaul University. Applications have been going up steadily for five years at many of the institutions, with no slowing down this year.

March 8, 2009

President Obama is expected today to announce that he is lifting limits, imposed by President George W. Bush, on federal support for stem cell research. The restrictions have been widely condemned by scientists as hindering research, and as symbolic of the Bush administration's imposition of ideological tests on science policy. The move by President Obama has been expected; during his campaign, he promised such a shift. His campaign document on science said: "Despite recent advances pointing to alternatives like adult stem cell and cord blood, embryonic stem cells remain unmatched in their potential for treatment of a wide variety of diseases and health conditions. Barack Obama has been a long-term supporter of increased stem cell research. He introduced legislation while a member of the Illinois Senate that would allow embryonic stem cell research in Illinois. Obama has cosponsored legislation to allow greater federal government funding on a wider array of stem cell lines. Obama believes we need high ethical standards that allow for research on stem cells derived from embryos produced for in vitro fertilization, embryos that would otherwise be needlessly destroyed."

March 8, 2009

The U.S. Education Department on Saturday published additional guidance about how it plans to distribute more than $50 billion in the coming months to help states stem cuts to education programs. While the guidance offers significantly more detail than has been previously available -- noting, for instance, that in applying for money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, states must assure that they will "establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement" -- it still leaves many questions unanswered.

March 8, 2009

New York Medical College, a free-standing institution with 1,600 students in M.D., public health and other graduate medical sciences programs, has signed a letter of intent to merge with a university, but won't name the likely partner, The Journal News reported. A spokeswoman for Touro College, while not confirming that it had signed a letter of intent, said that officials there were in "serious negotiations" with the medical college. The New York Medical College is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and Touro has Jewish affiliations.

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