Looking to broaden H1N1 awareness on campuses, two U.S. cabinet members and a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control hosted a Friday afternoon conference call for college newspaper reporters and editors. Arne Duncan, secretary of education, and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, outlined the guidance their departments released last month on how higher education should prevent and handle outbreaks. Sebelius said vaccine distribution to colleges and universities in October. Until then, she told the student journalists, “you really have a great bully pulpit to spread the word” about how to deal with the virus.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The board of Missouri Southern State University has renewed the contract of Bruce Speck, the president, and also told him he must improve his relations with faculty members, The Joplin Globe reported. Board leaders said that they were aware of the plans of faculty leaders to call a vote of no confidence, and wanted to see faculty-administrator relations improved. The board urged Speck to “renew efforts to improve relations with the faculty and to address faculty concerns in terms of leadership, management and judgment without retaliation,” according to a statement.
The State University of New York at Geneseo is allowing early decision applicants this year to decide whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores. An explanation from the university says that the option is "expressly designed for candidates who have achieved outstanding records of academic success in their high school studies – including such measures as the results of advanced placement/international baccalaureate exams – but who believe that their SAT/ACT results are neither commensurate with their achievements nor indicative of their potential for continued success in college." While many colleges have in recent years been going SAT-optional, Geneseo is the second institution (following American University) recently to adopt this for early decision applicants.
Malcolm Casadaban, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Chicago, died recently from an infection linked to the plague, which he was studying, the Chicago Tribune reported. He was doing research on a weakened laboratory strain of the bacteria Yersinia pestis. University officials said that they believed that no others are in any danger.
Princeton University on Thursday announced a review of its relationship with eating clubs, which are beloved by many of their alumni but are seen by many others as representing an exclusionary era. The announcement was low key and said that a task force would "examine whether there are steps that can and should be taken to strengthen those relationships for the mutual benefit of the clubs and the university, and for the benefit of Princeton students and the undergraduate experience." In recent years, Princeton has embraced the undergraduate college model, greatly expanding social opportunities beyond the clubs.
The Faculty Senate at Radford University, in Virginia, voted Thursday to condemn the layoffs of two student services officials -- and the university president said that the layoffs "should not have happened," The Roanoke Times reported. The two officials were told that they had hours to leave their jobs -- even though they were highly regarded by students and professors. Faculty leaders said that they were particularly upset because they had been assured by President Penny Kyle that any layoffs would be handled with respect, which they believe did not happen. While Kyle said that the layoffs took place without her knowledge, the terminations stand.
Seventy-one percent of admissions officers report that those in their offices have received Facebook or MySpace "friend requests" from applicants, according to a survey released Thursday by Kaplan Test Prep. Admissions officers at professional schools were also surveyed -- and they too reported being friended by applicants, but at lower rates: 50 percent at business schools, 48 percent at law schools and 31 percent at medical schools.
Eighty-three percent of campuses in a sample being used to track the spread of H1N1 reported new cases of flu-like illnesses in the last week, according to the American College Health Association. The association is tracking 253 colleges and universities, and the percentage reporting new cases was up from 72 percent the prior week. At the colleges in the sample, 6,432 new cases were reported, 16 of them requiring hospitalization.
While campuses in the United States have not been suspending operations due to H1N1, the American University in Cairo announced Wednesday that it is suspending operations until October 3, at the request of the Egyptian government. The university has not had any H1N1 cases, but Egypt has suspended operations of its government-run universities and asked American University in Cairo to do so as well.
The Volleyball Rules Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association has recommended that players refrain from traditional handshakes before and after matches due to concerns about the spread of H1N1. Volleyball is one of the two sports in which players from opposing teams are required by the NCAA to shake hands; the other is wrestling. Not everyone, however, is convinced that the NCAA recommendation is helpful. Neil Fishman, director of health care, epidemiology and infection control at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told USA Today, "I just think it's a bad decision and is not based on what we know about the science of the virus. There will be influenza in the community, and there will be no higher risk [of contracting the virus] walking down the street, riding a bus or going to a movie."
Families are saving an average of $2,676 for college annually, according to the results of a new survey by Sallie Mae and Gallup. The survey also found that -- as a percentage of income -- those with incomes under $50,000 save more than wealthier families. Only 29 percent of families are on track to meet their college savings goals, the survey found. Details of "How America Saves for Colleges 2009" are available here.