Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

University College London has fined a student £300 for starting FitFinder, a Web site the student has since abandoned that lets students flirt with one another, The Times of London reported. The student started the site at his university and it quickly became a hit among students across Britain. University College London officials said that they received complaints from other universities that the site was distracting students and so urged the student to bring it down and fined him for "bringing the the college into disrepute."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

On Friday, just a week after announcing it would be sold to private investors, Lambuth University announced it would not be sold and would retain its nonprofit status. Bill Seymour, the president, said in an interview that negotiations with the investors led both sides to think that the university would be best served by keeping its nonprofit status, but working with the investors, whom he declined to name. Lambuth had been rushing to send its accreditor -- the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which has placed the university on probabation -- a proposal to approve an ownership change. Seymour said that, at the last minute, the university decided not to file, and that it will instead seek approval to add new online courses that will be offered in a yet-to-be-determined partnership with the investors. Lambuth is so low on cash that it didn't make payroll in May, but Seymour said that the investors would do so, and would provide money to keep the university running until the new online programs start. He said existing programs would also continue. Asked if the funds being provided by the investors were a donation, he declined to characterize them in any way.

Belle S. Wheelan, president of the SACS Commission on Colleges, said that the organization would review whatever proposal Lambuth makes. Asked about whether issues were raised by investors keeping the institution running without a change in ownership, she said that nonprofit colleges can receive gifts or loans from outside groups. But she added that "if you are paying the bills, you may own the place."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A national survey of college and university career centers has found near-unanimous agreement among officials that students who have had internships are at a significant advantage when they look for jobs. The survey, by Internships.com -- a Web site that lists internships -- also found some encouraging news for those seeking internships, in that two-thirds of career centers reported that they received more internship postings this year than last year. Many of those in the survey viewed as unrealistic new federal limits on unpaid internships. Many career center leaders view those positions as providing key opportunities -- even without cash -- for their students.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

College students today are not as empathetic as college students were in the 1980s and 1990s, according to an analysis by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. The study -- based on an analysis of student surveys over a 30-year period -- was presented last week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. Students were categorized based on how the responded to statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" or "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Shaw University's national alumni association is calling on the historically black college's trustees to resign, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The alumni say that the board has not done enough -- through leadership and donations -- to help the financially struggling university. The chairman of the board -- who said that he did not expect trustees to quit -- has failed to make scheduled payments on his $10 million pledge to Shaw.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Scholarly groups cheered when U.S. officials lifted visa denials -- widely seen as ideologically motivated -- that prevented the scholars Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan from coming to academic meetings in the United States. But some have feared that others may still be being excluded. Sidonie Smith, president of the Modern Language Association, recently sent a letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, calling for the end to all such visa denials. "[I]n the interest of open inquiry and scholarly collaboration, the MLA urges you to cease the practice of denying entry visas to academics and scholars on ideological grounds," the letter says. "Former MLA President Stephen Greenblatt succinctly stated the MLA’s position in these matters: 'Truth-seeking depends upon dialogue. The advancement of knowledge depends upon more people around the table, not fewer. Excluding scholars because of the passports they carry or because of their skin color, religion, or political party corrupts the integrity of intellectual work.'"

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

The Education Department has published Condition of Education 2010, its annual compendium of (just about) everything you'd want to know about the state of American education. The publication contains a wealth of previously published data about undergraduate, graduate, and adult education.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Leaders of the House of Representatives made their appointments this week to the Education Department's accreditation advisory committee, fleshing out the membership of the newly reconstituted National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity in a way that makes it hard to imagine the panel will ever agree on anything. House Democrats appointed the presidents of three public colleges and universities, while House Republicans selected the presidents of two for-profit colleges and a top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Congress killed the last iteration of the panel in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, but planned for its re-creation in different form, with appointees by both branches of Congress as well as the Education Department. The panel has not met since 2008, but the department announced in April that the committee would meet in mid-September.

The 18 members of the committee, and their sponsors, are:

  • Benjamin Allen. president, U. of Northern Iowa (House Democrats)
  • Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (Senate Republicans)
  • William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland (House Democrats)
  • Arthur Keiser, chancellor, Keiser University (House Republicans)
  • Daniel Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education (Senate Democrats)
  • Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Emory University (Education Department)
  • Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (Senate Republicans)
  • William Pepicello, president, University of Phoenix (House Republicans)
  • Susan Phillips, provost and vice president for academic affairs, State University of New York at Albany (Education Department)
  • Michael Poliakoff, former vice president for academic affairs and research at the University of Colorado system (Senate Republicans)
  • Arthur Rothkopf, vice president and counselor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (House Republicans)
  • Jamienne Studley, president and CEO, Public Advocates Inc., and former president, Skidmore College (Education Department)
  • Aron Shimles, student, Occidental College (Education Department)
  • State Rep. Cameron Staples of Connecticut (Senate Democrats)
  • Larry N. Vanderhoef, former chancellor of the University of California at Davis (Senate Democrats)
  • Carolyn Williams, president, Bronx Community College (House Democrats)
  • Frank Wu, professor, Howard University Law School (Education Department)
  • Frederico Zargoza, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, Alamo Colleges (Education Department)
Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Brandeis University -- amid widespread criticism -- backed off a plan last year to sell some or all of its acclaimed collection of modern art. Now the university is working with Sotheby's to rent out pieces of art, The Boston Globe reported. Details of the plan are still being developed. The article noted that loans from one museum to another are typically not made for money-making purposes, but that some museums have sought to raise funds by lending out portions of their collections.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Arab-American and civil rights groups are protesting the treatment by Israel of Abeer Afana, a student at Wayne State University who last week was refused entry into Israel at its main airport and was returned to the United States, the Associated Press reported. Afana is a U.S. citizen who was traveling for a study abroad program, using her U.S. passport. But Israeli officials said that because she once held a Palestinian passport, she would be permitted entry only via a land route from Jordan.

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