The economic collapse of the last year has left many wondering why more economists didn't warn of the looming disaster. An article in The Huffington Post suggests that the problem is the increasingly close relationship between academic economists and the Federal Reserve, which is alleged to have made the professors reluctant to question what the Fed was saying. The article notes the many research contracts the Fed awards to professors and the dominance of the Fed on certain editorial boards. "One critical way the Fed exerts control on academic economists is through its relationships with the field's gatekeepers. For instance, at the Journal of Monetary Economics, a must-publish venue for rising economists, more than half of the editorial board members are currently on the Fed payroll -- and the rest have been in the past," the article says. The editor of the journal is quoted calling the idea of control "a silly one" and saying that it had published work critical of the Fed.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Seventy-three percent of the 204 colleges participating in a study by the American College Health Association of the spread of H1N1 are reporting new cases in the last week. Rates of H1N1 on campus were the highest in the Southeast and Midwest. Details on the tracking research may be found here.
Pearson on Tuesday formally unveiled its new test of English skills for those seeking an education in the United States or at colleges elsewhere with instruction in English. The new test has been in the works for some time, with strong support from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which represents M.B.A. programs and has been dissatisfied with the Test of English as Foreign Language, which is run by the Educational Testing Service. Pearson said that hundreds of institutions worldwide are ready or getting ready to accept the new test, called the Pearson Test of English Academic. Sixty-two of the business schools in GMAC so far plan to allow applicants from non-English speaking nations to use the Pearson test. ETS was already facing growing competition from the International English Language Testing System, known by its acronym, IELTS and co-sponsored by the English testing entity of the University of Cambridge, and British and Australian organizations that encourage international education. A statement from ETS Tuesday said: "The addition of a new testing program reflects the growing and robust nature of the global English learning marketplace.... The key to any program's success depends on university acceptance. With 7,000 participating universities and colleges worldwide, TOEFL remains the leading choice of admissions officials due to its exceptional reliability and quality."
The Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas announced Tuesday that they would collaborate to bring a branch of the Washington-based think tank to casino central to study the problems and issues of the West. The joint venture, the Brookings Mountain West Initiative, will be financed by private funds and modeled on the think tank's Metropolitan Policy Program.
The University of Wyoming is facing protests over its decision to name a center for international students after Dick Cheney, the former vice president, who donated $3.2 million that was used for the program, the Associated Press reported. Those circulated petitions and planning a protest for Thursday, when Cheney will be on campus, say that the university's reputation will be hurt by the association with Cheney, given his role in promoting the invasion of Iraq and support for interrogation techniques that many view as torture. But in an op-ed in The Casper Star-Tribune, the university's president, Tom Buchanan, defended naming the center for Cheney. "Whether you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Catholic or Protestant, gay or straight, white or black, you are welcome at the University of Wyoming. Should we subject potential donors and the purpose of their gift to public referendum? I think not," Buchanan wrote.
Rutgers University faculty members have voted to agree to delays in salary increases, with the goal of assuring that the university can avoid layoffs and significant cuts that would have been necessary without the savings from not having to add salary funds, The Star-Ledger reported. The faculty union, affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, demanded certain concessions in the deal. Among them: No across-the-board increases in teaching loads.
Academe's own version of the inflation rate, the Higher Education Price Index, fell to 2.3 percent in 2009, down sharply from the 5 percent rate in 2008, the Commonfund Institute announced today. The price index is designed to be a more accurate reflection of colleges' and universities' costs than is the broad Consumer Price Index, because it uses products and services that are more typical of what postsecondary institutions purchase in a given year. The Commonfund Institute added two features to the index this year, aligning HEPI with the July to June fiscal year that most colleges use and for the first time providing regional figures, which ranged from 3.4 percent in the New England region to 2.0 percent in the East South Central and South Atlantic regions.
Two former members of the Texas Tech University Board of Regents say Gov. Rick Perry pressured them to quit after they endorsed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Republican primary challenge to his re-election, The Austin American-Statesman reported. One of the regents did quit. The other -- who didn't -- wasn't reappointed when her term ended. The governor's office said it was unaware of any pressure being placed on regents.
For the first time, Delgado Community College is being forced to turn away students for lack of space. The reason, an article in The Times-Picayune reported, is that repairs to some buildings damaged in Hurricane Katrina have still yet to be repaired. Federal relief funds have been far short of the college's estimates of the damages that it suffered.
The University of Houston is using Wii to attract more students to physical education courses, The Houston Chronicle reported. Wii, which is popular with students, is used to have those in the courses follow and copy the action on the screen to work up a sweat -- and earn elective credit.