Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of the District of Columbia is facing questions about first class air travel by its president, Allen Sessoms, following the release of records on the travel to a Fox 5 reporter. One of the trips (this one business class) was to Egypt, and UDC would provide only limited and redacted records about what he did there, spending a few hours a day visiting a sister university and spending other time on tourist activities and shopping. On the same trip, he stopped in Britain on the way back (spending $1,000 there,) but the university said it had no documentation for why he was there. Sessoms declined to comment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Japan has been shocked by an Internet cheating scandal on an entrance exam to Kyoto University, one of the country's most prestigious institutions. The New York Times reported that questions from the exam (and replies) were posted on a popular website while the exam was taking place.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

A week after the chancellor of the University System of Ohio resigned to allow the state's new Republican governor to appoint his own higher ed leader, Governor John Kasich announced the appointment of a former attorney general to the job. James Petro, who served as state auditor and attorney general in Republican administrations in Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, will replace Eric D. Fingerhut, who was the first chancellor of the statewide system established under Kasich's predecessor, former Governor Ted Strickland. Some state policy experts and Ohio college leaders have expressed concern that the system's governance structure -- in which the chancellor is selected by the governor and closely aligned with him (or her) -- would make Ohio public higher education too susceptible to political turnover and turbulence, and perhaps threaten the new system. When he ran for governor in 2005, Petro reportedly proposed creating two higher education boards, one for four-year and one for two-year colleges. But he told local reporters Monday that he supported the new structure.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The push by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin to end collective bargaining rights for public higher education has led one union to push for a quick contract. The adjunct union at Madison Area Technical College has been in a dispute with the institution over assigning courses -- a system that the adjuncts say favors full-time faculty members at their expense. The adjuncts are now offering to drop the issue (including a lawsuit over it) in return for quick ratification of a contract on which other issues have already been resolved, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Labor Monday invited grant applications for the $122-million Career Pathways Innovation Fund. The announcement coincided with the first of four regional community college summits being hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Introduced last year by the Labor Department, the Career Pathways Innovation Fund replaced the existing Community-Based Job Training Program. Labor Department officials hope this new grant will bolster some of the career pathways models already in place in several states. Financial awards will be given to “community colleges and consortia of community colleges that are developing or expanding career pathway programs in partnership with education and training providers, employers, and the workforce investment system.” At least $65 million of the total funds will be reserved “for projects that focus on the health care sector.” The Labor Department will fund “approximately 40 to 50 grants ranging from $1 million to $5 million.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York approved Monday the creation of the system’s first new community college in 43 years. The new institution, which has been in development since 2008, will adopt strict policies aimed at producing high student retention and graduation rates. All its students must enroll full time and take a predetermined core curriculum; they will have only 12 majors to choose from, all of them career-oriented.

The institution will open in Manhattan in the fall of 2012. It will initially enroll just 500 students, with the eventual goal of having up to 3,000. The Board of Trustees also approved the new community college’s first eight degree programs: associate’s degrees in business administration, energy services management, environmental science, health information technology, human services, information technology, liberal arts & sciences, and urban studies. Now that the trustees have approved the new college, the proposal goes to the New York State Board of Regents for final review of the institution and its initial set of academic programs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Six higher education groups are urging the U.S. Senate to pass long-delayed legislation this week to overhaul federal patent laws. In a letter to senators, the Association of American Universities and five other associations express their support for the measure, S. 23. The legislation would more closely align U.S. patent laws with those in Europe and Asia in several ways, including by granting patents for a particular innovation to the first inventor to file a patent for it, rather than, necessarily, to the creator of the innovation. An amendment is expected this week that would eliminate the legislation's "first-inventor-to-file" provision, which some lawmakers say would tilt the system against individual inventors and entrepreneurs. The college groups urge senators to reject the amendment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of the Pacific's Ken Albala dissects the competing claims concerning meat content in some popular fast foods. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has placed the University of California at Berkeley on two years’ probation for recruiting violations in its men’s basketball program. A Division I Committee on Infractions report released Friday reveals that the men’s basketball coaching staff made 365 “impermissible recruiting phone calls.” The report notes that the violations began shortly after the hiring of Coach Mike Montgomery and his staff in the spring of 2008. The university’s compliance office “acted quickly” to train the new coach and his staff about NCAA rules and “had processes in place to monitor recruiting telephone calls.” Reviewing these records in the fall of 2008, the compliance officer discovered these violations. In addition to the two years’ probation for the university, the NCAA limited to five the number of official paid visits the men’s basketball team can offer recruits for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.

Monday, February 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Sarah K. Foss, a 19-year-old Stetson University student, was arrested Thursday on charges of stalking and threatening to kill or harm one of her professors, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Authorities say that she apparently became infatuated with her professor and sent him a series of e-mail messages Thursday, including one that said, "If you upset me I will physically hurt you. You know I'm capable." Foss is being held in jail.

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