The House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation on Saturday designed to toughen federal regulation of the finance industry, and the measure has significant implications for private student loans in two ways. First, it would ensure that all private student loans -- including those made directly to students by colleges and universities, for-profit and nonprofit alike -- would fall under the authority of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Another provision in the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), would require a lender providing a private student loan to certify with the prospective borrower's college that the student is eligible for the loan. The provision is designed to give colleges the opportunity to counsel borrowers to make sure they are aware of their other options.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Phyllis Wise, provost of the University of Washington, is facing growing criticism for joining the board of Nike, The Seattle Times reported. Wise and university officials note that it is common for higher education administrators to serve on corporate boards and that they can use these positions to encourage responsible business decisions. But critics say that because the university has a large (and, in some quarters, controversial) contract with Nike, the appointment constitutes a conflict of interest.
Florida State University has used the diagnoses of learning disabilities to recruit and assist many athletes, including some who may have had little chance of academic success and lacked basic reading skills, according to an ESPN broadcast on Sunday. The show suggested that some athletes are being admitted despite long odds against academic success, and that the diagnosis of learning disabilities is being used to provide substantial assistance to athletes and to get around some NCAA rules, which allow for waivers for some with learning disabilities. The show quoted one source as saying that a third of the football team and three-quarters of the basketball team at Florida State had diagnoses of learning disabilities. Even before the broadcast aired, Florida State was denouncing it.
Harvard University announced Thursday that it will delay, perhaps significantly, construction of a major science campus in Allston. The science center on the campus -- estimated to cost in the range of $1 billion -- was part of a major campaign by the university to build state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, which has been difficult on the older, full Cambridge campus. With the university facing a huge endowment loss, Harvard officials have been hinting at a delay for months, but Allston residents have feared the impact of so much space sitting vacant. In a letter announcing the plans, Drew Faust, Harvard's president, stressed that the university would look for ways to lease some of the space now, and that Harvard would seek to minimize the impact of the decision both on Allston and on science departments at the university.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has given local colleges and universities an ultimatum: Offer a plan to provide $5 million a year in support to the city, or the City Council will vote next week on his proposed 1 percent tuition tax, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The plan for the tuition tax has been opposed by college leaders and students, and is being watched closely by colleges nationwide. There has been some hope that the idea might be shelved if college offered support in other ways. But the mayor's latest statement does not seem to be going over well in higher ed. Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty, in a statement on behalf of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, said: "Asking universities to fix an underfunded pension fund in return for taking an illegal, counterproductive, and unprecedented tax off the table is unreasonable."
Police arrested 33 protesters Thursday morning who had occupied the business school building at San Francisco State University, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Campus police, along with San Francisco police, entered the building at 3:15 a.m. and some officers broke windows to get inside because doors had been blocked. The university later announced that the building had been reopened and that regularly scheduled events and classes would take place. The protests have been described as largely being about the major program cuts and tuition increases at the California State University System, but a list of demands on the protesters' Web site also called for the end to wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Gaza; a shift in university control from administrators to students, faculty members and staff; the shutdown of prisons; and the establishment of a single payer health-care system.
Northwestern University Press on Thursday announced that it has acquired the publishing assets of Curbstone Press and that as of Jan. 1, it will publish new titles under the Curbstone imprint. Curbstone and Northwestern are both known for publishing literature from around the world in translation. Curbstone's current publishing list includes work by Luis Rodríguez, Martín Espada, Claribel Alegria, Salah Al Hamdani, Ana Castillo, Wayne Karlin, E. Ethelbert Miller, Sergio Ramírez and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The University of Ottawa has become the first Canadian institution to join the Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity, in which five leading American universities in September pledged to develop systems to pay open access journals for the articles they publish by the institutions' scholars. Ottawa has also pledged to make its scholarly publications available online at no charge, to create a fund to support the creation of digital educational materials organized as courses and available to everyone online at no charge, and to support the University of Ottawa Press in publishining a collection of open access books.
Dartmouth College leaders are issuing apologies and talking about making use of a "teachable moment" following ugly fan behavior directed at members of Harvard University's squash team, The Boston Globe reported. Cheering at a squash match between the two institutions' teams turned into personal name-calling by some Dartmouth fans, using language seen by many who were there as sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic. Women on the Harvard team were called "whores" and "sluts" and men had their sexuality called into question with crude shouts. Many comments were directed against Franklin Cohen, the captain of the men's team from Harvard. He was asked whether he likes bagels, and one witness told the Globe that a student shouted: "Cohen, do you cheat in business, Cohen?"
Antioch College's continued rebirth took another step forward Wednesday with the naming of an interim president, Matthew Derr, who has been serving as chief transition officer. Derr, formerly vice president for institutional advancement at the Boston Conservatory, will now oversee the restoration of the facilities, the hiring of key staff members, and fund-raising efforts.