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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
Last year's collapse on Wall Street has left many state prepaid tuition plans in unhealthy shape, The New York Times reported. Some states are imposing new fees on families, while others are developing scenarios for what to do if they close, and still others are receiving bailouts from their states. The plans, designed to assure families of the cost of tuition at public colleges and universities, were promoted as a completely secure way for families to save money and for states to promote higher education.
The Phi Beta Kappa Society has voted to allow four more colleges to create chapters. The society admits new chapters only at its triennial meeting, and this year has accepted applications from Butler University, in Indiana; the College of Saint Benedict-Saint John’s University, in Minnesota; Elon University, in North Carolina; and James Madison University, in Virginia. The honorary society declined to name the colleges that were not successful in their bids to start chapters. Among the selection criteria: "evidence that the educational programs and academic environment of an applicant institution effectively quicken the mind and spirit of its students and faculty by encouraging the full development of their human capacities," "primary emphasis to curricula liberal in character and purpose and that courses distinguished by these qualities shall constitute the principal requirements for the bachelor's degree," "appropriate academic demands on those enrolled in its classes, including opportunities for honors studies for those who are especially capable" and "due precautions to prevent issues of governance, athletics, religion or politics from subverting the integrity of the institution's dedication to liberal education."
The Community College of Allegheny College has ended a rule requiring students seeking to distribute materials on campus to first have the material reviewed by administrators. The rule set off a dispute this year when college officials cited it to threaten to punish a student trying to organize a "gun rights" group on campus. The student received assistance in demanding a change in the rule from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The Ig Nobel Prizes, the annual spoof of the Nobel Prizes, were announced Thursday night. The honors include the following:
- Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, in Britain, won in veterinary medicine for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.
- Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, in Switzerland, won the honor for peace for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.
- Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, won in chemistry for creating diamonds from tequila.
- Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, won in physics for determining why pregnant women don't tip over.
The complete list of winners may be found here. The other Nobels kick off Monday with the prize in medicine.
A state appeals court in Florida on Thursday ordered the National Collegiate Athletic Association to make public documents it produced during its investigation into academic wrongdoing in Florida State University's sports program, despite the association's best efforts to shield the papers. Usually the NCAA and its member colleges are on the same side of disputes over the privacy of the association's rule making process (usually against the news media, which were the plaintiffs in this case, too, led by the Associated Press). But in this instance, Florida State had encouraged the release of the documents because they are related to the university's appeal of what its officials view as overly harsh penalties imposed on its athletes and its football coach, Bobby Bowden. The NCAA sought to get around Florida's expansive open records law by putting the documents on a secure Web site available only to the university's outside lawyers instead of sending them to Florida State officials. But the Florida court didn't buy the NCAA's arguments: "Although these documents were prepared and maintained by a private organization, they were 'received' by agents of a public agency and used in connection with public business.... As the plaintiffs expressed this point, the definition of a public record does not turn on the senderâ€Ÿs method of transmission." NCAA officials said they were considering their legal options.
Federal housing officials have sued Millikin University, charging that the institution discriminated against a blind student with epilepsy by refusing to allow her to have a trained service dog live in her dormitory room, the Chicago Tribune reported. The university denies wrongdoing and says that the dog's presence in the dorm would have caused problems for other students with respiratory issues.
Washington University in St. Louis has apologized to Saint Louis University for incorrectly suggesting that the latter university played a role in a fellowship that trains physicians to perform abortions, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Because Saint Louis University is a Roman Catholic institution, it would have been unusual for it to have been involved in the fellowship. Saint Louis University officials said that they have no idea how their institution was included in a fellowship Web site maintained by Washington University. That university declined to answer questions about how the error was made.
The University of Florida's disaster preparedness Web site contains information on dealing with hurricanes, pandemics and ... zombies. The Associated Press reported that a university employee added the zombie response plan to "add a bit of levity" to the Web site. The guide for dealing with a zombie attack ncludes a helpful list of signs that zombie attacks may be increasing. You should watch, for example, for "increasing numbers of gruesome unexplained deaths and disappearances, especially at night" and listen for "lots of strange moaning." The guide includes an "Infected Co-Worker Dispatch Form" for Florida employees to let superiors know when a colleague exhibits signs of zombie behavior, with a checklist of such behaviors, including "references to wanting to eat brains," "recently dead but moving again," "lack of rational thought (this can cause problems confusing zombies with managers)" and "killed and ate another employee." A footnote in the plan suggests the importance of maintaining sensitivity in a time of zombie attack: "While many people refer to 'undead,' practitioners in the field of Zombie Studies and zombie advocates such as PETZ: People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies, and supporters of Florida Zombie Preserve, Inc. insist that the term 'undead' clearly connotes deficiency; specifically the absence of both life and death. Hence, we suggest here the term 'life impaired' to recognize the difficulties imposed on a former person by zombie behavior spectrum disorder (ZBSD) but without suggesting the former person is somehow 'deficient' as a result of the infection."