Tired of watching the United States and other countries woo its best scientists away, China is increasingly fighting to keep them, The New York Times reports. The newspaper focuses on the recent luring of Shi Yigong, a Princeton University biologist who turned down a big grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to return to become a dean at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has banned students or others on its campuses from covering their faces, The Boston Globe reported. College officials say that the rules are designed to promote safety. But Muslim groups say that the ban should have an exemption for those who wear face veils for religious reasons, as is the case with some Muslim women.
The University of Winnipeg has put on hold for at least this academic year a plan to merge the departments of philosophy, classics and religious studies into a new humanities department, The Winnipeg Free Press reported. Many faculty members throughout Canada opposed the merger, and concerns remain about the state of the philosophy offerings. Winnipeg officials said they were holding off because of misconceptions about the plan. Students and faculty members angry over the merger plan have set up a Facebook group and an online petition.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has upheld a vacation of records penalty against Florida State University for an “academic fraud” scandal involving 61 athletes in 10 sports. Chief among those affected by the penalty, Bobby Bowden, former head football coach, must vacate up to 14 wins from 2004 through 2007 in which players who received help cheating on some of their exams participated. The penalty, which was appealed by Florida State when the rules violations were announced last March, has irked many Seminole fans because it essentially will prevent Bowden from becoming the all-time winningest coach in college football. (Bowden retired after Florida State’s bowl game this season as the second-winningest coach with 389 wins; Joe Paterno, coach at Pennsylvania State University, is still active and has 394 wins.) In addition to the records vacations in 10 sports, the NCAA also upheld its penalty against Brenda Monk, the former learning specialist at Florida State who “knowingly arranged for fraudulent academic credit for numerous student-athletes and provided improper academic assistance.” Monk retains a “show-cause penalty,” meaning that any institution that hires her by 2013 must explain “why it should not be penalized if it does not restrict [her] from having any contact with student-athletes.” Randy Spetman, Florida State athletic director, told the Associated Press that the institution was upset with the NCAA’s decision. Spetman said, "We believed that our administration did everything it possibly could to ferret out any and all improprieties in this matter."
The French government is in an increasingly public fight with the country's elite colleges over admissions standards, Reuters reported. Government officials say that the colleges don't do enough to recruit low-income students, but the colleges say that they are being pressured to adjust merit-based admissions standards.
More law students say that their legal education has bolstered their commitment to public service -- and more students anticipate seeking public interest law jobs. Those two findings from the latest iteration of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement suggest that the economic downturn is influencing the perceptions of law students. The survey, produced by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, examines the views from 26,000 law students at 82 schools on a wide range of aspects of their legal educations.
Cornell University, in the face of opposition from the Ivy League, has stopped including athletes in a financial aid enhancement announced a year ago. Under the program, selected groups of students who qualified for need-based aid and who were particularly desirable to the university -- including some athletes -- had the parental contributions in their aid packages reduced. "While we thought that including student-athletes with demonstrated need among those eligible for enhanced need-based aid awards meets Ivy League standards and practices, the league did not agree," said Simeon Moss, a spokesman for Cornell. The blog MetaEzra reported this week that the Ivy League was investigating the aid policy, apparently for concerns that it violated the Ivy ban on athletic scholarships. But Moss said that there was no investigation because the university has changed its aid rules. He added that Cornell was "committed to achieving competitive equity throughout the Ivy League." Some advocates for Cornell athletics have complained in recent years that because Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities offer need-based aid to those from families at much higher incomes than can receive such aid at Cornell or other Ivies, those three institutions are effectively offering merit aid.
Following in the footsteps of its wealthy peers across the Atlantic, the University of Cambridge plans to raise £400 million (about $635 million) in its first-ever bond offering, the Times of London reported. University officials told the newspaper that they worried about the first major borrowing in its 800-year existence, but that a bond issue was the best way to raise needed money for two building projects.
What's a cause without a political action committee? With the college football bowl season at its apex, critics of the current method of crowning a nominal college football national champion -- the Bowl Championship Series -- have introduced what they call Playoff PAC, which they describe as a "federal political committee dedicated to establishing a competitive post-season championship for college football." The organization is sponsoring national television ads, aggregating other information and, ultimately, given its name, making political donations, with this stated goal: "Playoff PAC helps elect pro-reform political candidates, mobilizes public support, and provides a centralized source of pro-reform news, thought, and scholarship."
Two professors at the University of California at Irvine received envelopes Monday with the words "Black Death" written on them, and with an unidentified white powder in them, the Associated Press reported. Authorities are testing the white powder to determine what it is, and initial tests were negative for biohazards. The buildings where the two professors work -- one in sociology and the other in engineering -- were evacuated.