The University of Oxford has announced new procedures for electing its prized professorship in poetry, The Guardian reported. All 300,000 Oxford graduates are entitled to vote, but until now, they had to show up at a specified time and place to do so, limiting participation. Under the new rules, people will be able to vote in person or online -- and over a longer time period. The shift follows a particularly divisive vote, but observers are split on whether the new process will encourage more civility in the selection process.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students at the University of Alabama worried about juggling academic responsibilities with attending the national championship of college football can rest easy. The Crimson Tide will be playing in Pasadena, Cal., on Jan. 7, and classes were scheduled to resume at Alabama after the mid-year break on Jan. 6. The university has decided to call off all classes Jan. 6-8, so there will be no conflicts, The Tuscaloosa News reported. While students may receive extra assignments as a result, the class days will not be rescheduled.
Several colleges that have been experiencing high profile financial difficulties received bad news this week from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The accreditor placed Greensboro College on warning status, and Lambuth University on probation. Notre Dame Seminary, in Louisiana, was also placed on probation. The Southern accrediting group has responsibility for the region with most of the historically black colleges -- and sometimes has disputes with those institutions. But in this week's round of decisions two historically black colleges were removed from warning status (Florida Memorial University and South Carolina State University) and one was removed from the probation list (Alabama A&M University).
An anonymous donor to Chemeketa Community College, known as "The Investor," has given nearly $300,000 over the last two years to support prison education programs. A feature article in The Oregonian details the impact of the gifts. Since Congress barred the use of most federal student aid for prison education, programs have dwindled. According to the article, the donor has no personal or family history with being in prison, and believes the education programs are an important investment in the community.
Appropriators from the U.S. House and Senate reached agreement Tuesday on a compromise spending bill that would finance education, labor, health, science and other federal programs for the 2010 fiscal year. The omnibus legislation, which is designed to be the first of two Congress will consider to fund the numerous spending bills that lawmakers have so far failed to pass for the fiscal year that began October 1, would increase spending for the National Institutes of Health to $31 billion and for the National Science Foundation to $6.9 billion, set the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550, and provide $1.4 billion for worker training.
Authorities have fined two students at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and told them they can't continue their business of selling reptiles out of their dormitory room, the Associated Press reported. Acting on a tip, officials found that the students' room contained snakes (including one rattlesnake, two adult pythons, and several younger pythons), an alligator, three chameleons and mice. The students said that they were using classified ads to sell the animals.
A student fired a rifle at a math instructor in class Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College, but there were no injuries, The Washington Post reported. According to authorities, the student fired two shots as the instructor shouted for other students to duck, and the shooter then went into the hallway and waited without incident for police to arrive.
Princeton Review said Tuesday that it had completed its $170 million takeover of Penn Foster Education Group, which provides career training and administers an online high school. The transaction, which was announced in October, will double the testing company's revenues and mark its entrance in the growing career education market.
Wil Stanton is quitting as provost at Radford University at the end of the month, and will return to the faculty, The Roanoke Times reported. In October, the faculty voted "no confidence" in Stanton, saying he was not standing up for academic programs in the face of budget cuts. Stanton was named provost in 2007, succeeding another provost who left the position after a debate over his leadership.
Like many universities around the world, the University of Edinburgh has pledged to cut carbon emissions. As The Guardian reported, the university has concluded that the only way to reach its targets is to move beyond such straightforward measures as redesigning buildings for more efficient energy use. The university is now asking students and faculty members many personal, detailed questions to develop strategies on such issues as how many conferences faculty members use air travel to attend and what students eat. The use of videoconferencing instead of air travel, lower consumption of meat, and other measures are being discussed. One delicate issue is the calculation that international students -- due to air travel -- have a significant impact on total carbon emissions.