Scrutiny continues to grow of the corporate influence on continuing medical education. The New York Times reported that the University of Michigan, for example, will no longer accept any gifts from drug or medical device companies to pay for the courses doctors must take to keep their medical licenses. James O. Woolliscroft, dean of Michigan’s medical school, told the Times that faculty members “wanted education to be free from bias, to be based on the best evidence and a balanced view of the topic under discussion.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
Peter Erlinder, a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, returned to his Minnesota home from Rwanda this week, after authorities there who had arrested him allowed him to leave, the Associated Press reported. Erlinder was in Rwanda to help defend an opposition presidential candidate. Erlinder spoke Wednesday about his experience, saying that it is possible that no one would have learned of his situation if he hadn't been able to summon a U.S. embassy official when he was arrested on May 28. He said that airline records indicated erroneously that he had left the country so nobody at the embassy knew he was still in Rwanda.
Financial considerations are driving talk of realignment among college sports conferences outside the high-profile Bowl Championship Series leagues, too -- but in different ways. The Associated Press reports that several Arkansas colleges that belong to the Division II Gulf South Conference are contemplating leaving and teaming up with Oklahoma institutions that are now in the Lone Star Conference. The Arkansas colleges are citing escalating travel costs within the Gulf South, which stretches east to Georgia.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court's 2008 decision that shielded the Apollo Group, Inc., from a jury's $277 million verdict against it in a shareholder lawsuit. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit essentially reinstated the jury's 2008 finding that a group of stockholders in the parent company of the University of Phoenix were harmed by the company's approach to disclosing information about a critical government report. Although the jury called for Apollo to pay $277.5 million in damages, a federal judge overturned that verdict in August 2008, ruling in Apollo's favor. But in its ruling Wednesday, which Apollo critiqued, the Ninth Circuit appeals panel said that the lower court judge had "erred" and that the damages award should stand.
A federal judge last week upheld the decision of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to reject a proposed master's degree in science education from the Institute for Creation Research, The San Antonio Express-News reported. The judge said he found no reason put forth that the board did not act within its authority in rejecting the awarding of the degrees.
Major reforms to benefit New York State's university systems are alive but are the subject of disagreement among key legislative leaders, The New York Times reported. The reforms would give the university systems more control over setting tuition rates and using tuition revenue - steps university leaders say are much needed. Gov. David A. Paterson and Senate Democrats are backing the plan, but Assembly Democrats are resisting -- and the disagreement is stalling budget talks in the state.
The American Association of University Professors has issued a statement harshly criticizing East-West University for telling all adjuncts that they should would not be hired this summer and would need to be interviewed by the chancellor to obtain future assignments -- moves that the university says reflect a commitment to hiring good adjuncts but that many see as an effort to hurt a union organizing drive. "The actions of East-West University may have set a new low in managerial practice and have damaged both the institution’s labor relations and its educational quality. Blanket non-renewals, which in reality are large-scale layoffs, are a problematic employment practice that detracts from educational quality," said the AAUP statement.
Two business executives hired to restructure the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the wake of the president's ouster have quit, The Kansas City Star reported. The executives were hired after the previous president was forced out amid allegations of excessive spending and compensation. One of the executives who quit questioned whether the institution was committed to making the changes it needs.
An experimental City University of New York program designed to graduate community college students quickly has surpassed its goal of graduating at least half of its initial 1,000-student cohort in three years. City and university leaders gathered Tuesday to celebrate the 53 percent graduation rate achieved by the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), launched in 2007. The final graduation rate for the experimental project is expected to reach 56 percent by the fall, as more students earn their degree this summer. Participants in ASAP must attend class full-time, and they receive free tuition, books and transportation for staying enrolled. Additionally, these students take small courses grouped in blocks during the daytime and receive intense personal advising and tutoring. Last year, university officials accurately projected that their efforts would help them surpass their 50 percent graduation goal – a rate that is more than three times the national average for urban two-year institutions.
The author Wendell Berry is withdrawing his personal papers from the University of Kentucky to protest several university policies, including the naming of a basketball dormitory in honor of the coal industry and an emphasis on becoming a top research university in a way that Berry believes will detract from the institution's traditional land grant mission, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. In a letter obtained by the newspaper, Berry wrote: "The university's president and board have solemnized an alliance with the coal industry, in return for a large monetary 'gift,' granting to the benefactors, in effect, a co-sponsorship of the university's basketball team.... That — added to the 'Top 20' project and the president's exclusive 'focus' on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — puts an end to my willingness to be associated in any way officially with the university." A university spokesman said the institution was disappointed with the decision -- especially because it had purchased many of Berry's works to be in the same collection with the personal papers.