Colleges and universities reported a 27 percent drop in the number of new cases of likely H1N1 flu, but the closely watched weekly survey by the American College Health Association included the first two deaths attributed to the outbreak. The ACHA survey of 263 campuses found 6,373 new cases of suspected swine flu, with 95 percent of campuses reporting new cases, down from 98 percent the week before. The institutions cumulatively reported 21.3 cases per 10,000 students, down 27 percent from the November 7. Five states -- New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri, Idaho and the District of Columbia -- reported increasing numbers of cases, with the rest noting declines.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Jessica Goode, 23, a student at Ferrum College, was shot and killed Tuesday, and another student was shot in the hand, when a hunter mistook the students for deer, The Roanoke Times reported. The students were collecting specimens for a biology class. The hunter has been charged with manslaughter, reckless handling of a firearm and trespassing.
United Students Against Sweatshops has achieved its largest victory to date with the news that Russell Athletic will rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who will regain jobs they lost after their factory unionized, The New York Times reported. Using pledges made by various universities to demand that companies that produce clothing with their logos meet basic standards for respecting worker rights, the student group had been able to get many of those institutions to suspend or end licensing deals with Russell.
Elgin Community College and Harper College are trying to save America's young people from becoming zombies. That's the message of a new online animated campaign run by the two Illinois community colleges. The video urges students not to be "mindless followers of the traditional college-search mindset" and to consider the low-cost alternative community colleges provide. The video shows those who borrow to attend expensive four-year institutions facing "a lifetime of mindless, brain-consuming misery" as zombies.
Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is a leading critic of conflicts of interest in biomedical research, is focusing on the issue of journal ghostwriting. The New York Times reported that he has written to 10 medical schools, asking about whether they have policies that deal with issues raised by pharmaceutical companies ghostwriting articles that appear under the names of university researchers.
Continuing a trend in which nonprofit disciplinary societies are turning to commercial publishers, the American Geographical Society and Wiley-Blackwell on Tuesday announced that Wiley would start publishing two journals that have been managed directly by the society until now. The journals are Geographical Review and FOCUS on Geography. The Review has been published by the society since 1856.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison in announcing that it will not make the Kindle available to students until the device has improvements to be better enable blind people to use it. "Quite apart from our legal obligations, we at Illinois believe that our technology choices should be shaped by our institutional values and aspirations. We will not embrace technologies that undercut our commitment to accessibility. We will instead apply our ingenuity to technologies that enable everyone to participate more fully in society," said a statement from the university. "Like our colleagues at Wisconsin and Syracuse, we recognize the groundbreaking potential that read-aloud features have for making textbooks accessible to students with disabilities. Sadly, that potential can’t be realized until vendors of e-book readers, like the Kindle, add accessible read-aloud menus and basic navigation to their products."
A key panel on Tuesday rejected a 1 percent tax on tuition proposed by Pittsburgh's mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, but he is vowing to push ahead on the idea, and Tuesday's decision does not block him from doing so, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority unanimously rejected the mayor's plan, citing the tuition tax, which members said had been authorized by no state or city legislation. The mayor blasted authority members, and accused them of conflicts of interest because of some members' ties to local colleges, which oppose his plan. He now plans to seek City Council approval of the tax, which could set the stage for a court battle as colleges are vowing to fight it.
Although more than half of the athletes in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are black, leadership positions are overwhelmingly held by white men, according to a new report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Among the 120 universities in the subdivision, in the 2009 season there are seven African-American coaches, one Latino coach and one Asian coach -- a net increase of one minority coach since 2008. The report also notes that institutional leaders at these universities are overwhelmingly white in the bowl subdivision. White people make up 100 percent of the conference commissioners, 93.3 percent of presidents, 86.7 percent of athletics directors, 92.6 percent of faculty athletics representatives, 92.5 percent of head football coaches, and 82.9 percent of the faculty, the study found.
Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a tentative contract agreement with the university Tuesday, and both parties now say the accord protects tuition waivers. The Graduate Employees Organization, a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, went on strike Monday as contract negotiations broke down. The tentative contract agreement, however, prompted the GEO's strike committee to suspend the strike Tuesday evening in expectation of a ratification of the contract by the full union membership. Prior to the strike, the student employees argued that out of state tuition waivers were insufficiently protected in the contract, but the newly agreed upon language requires the university to bargain with the union if any changes are made to the practice of offering waivers.