The State University of New York at Binghamton has received an anonymous $6 million donation that appears to be the latest in a series of seven-figure anonymous gifts, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. Like the other gifts, the funds arrived on the condition that the university not try to track the donor, and that the fund be used for financial aid. The Associated Press, which reported the string of gifts last week, noted that so far, all of the institutions receiving funds are led by women.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Robert Shireman has long been a force in Washington, even when he's lived outside the Beltway. But he had probably never been a major player on Wall Street -- until Tuesday, when his appointment to a key post in the U.S. Education Department drove down the stocks of the publicly traded for-profit higher education companies. Shireman has occasionally criticized for-profit colleges during his years as an advocate for low-income students and college access, and some analysts of the commercial college sector anticipate that he will ramp up regulation of the industry. On Tuesday, after Education Secretary Arne Duncan named Shireman to a new position as deputy under secretary, an analyst at Credit Suisse downgraded its rating for several postsecondary companies in light of the possibility of more legal or regulatory changes "that could adversely impact for-profit education sector growth more significantly." Career college officials played down any such possibility, with the head of the Career College Association, Harris Miller, saying in a comment posted on this Web site that its colleges have "worked constructively with Bob Shireman over the years, and we look forward to his assuming his new role." Still, the stocks of the publicly traded higher ed companies fell by between 5 and 10 percent in value. Interestingly, the stock of Sallie Mae -- which has unquestionably been a target of Shireman's over the years -- actually rose Tuesday.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Legislative Council has voted to drastically shorten the length of time men’s basketball players have to declare for the National Basketball Association draft. Under current rules, players have six weeks to “test the waters” at professional workouts and eventually remove their name from the draft if they wish to retain their college eligibility. If the measure is approved on April 30 by the Division I Board of Directors – which rarely overturns Legislative Council decisions – then players will only have one week to either declare for the draft or return to college. An NCAA release says the rule change “is intended to encourage student-athletes to refocus on academics sooner after the season ends and decrease the potential for violations of amateurism rules.”
Three academics won Pulitzer Prizes in the arts on Monday. In fiction, the winner was Elizabeth Strout, who is on the M.F.A. faculty at Queens University in North Carolina. She won for Olive Kitteridge (Random House), a collection of short stories. In drama, the winner was Lynn Nottage, a visiting lecturer at the Yale School of Drama who was honored for the play Ruined. And in history, the winner was Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law at New York Law School, who won for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton).
What can you make with 23 plastic bottles? A graduation gown, it turns out. Tis the season (almost), and Oak Hall Cap & Gown, a company that counts more than 1,600 colleges as clients, has announced a new GreenWeaver line, featuring caps and gowns composed of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
The Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors has weighed in on the controversy surrounding President Obama's upcoming commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, which some Roman Catholics oppose due to the president's support for abortion rights. In its statement, the AAUP chapter expresses support for Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, for standing by the invitation, and expresses concern about "the efforts of external groups to prevent President Obama or any other invited guest from speaking on campus. ... Notre Dame has a worthy tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at commencement even though none agree with all aspects of Catholic dogma. To disinvite a commencement speaker over public policy disagreements is an anathema to open discourse." President Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree at Notre Dame, and the sixth to be commencement speaker.
The Institute for Creation Research is suing Texas for the right to award master's degrees in the state. The Dallas Morning News reported that the suit charges the state with discriminating against the institute based on its views of evolution (on which the institute differs from mainstream science). The institute wants to award master's degrees to people who plan to teach science, and says it will teach evolution even as it also teaches creationism. Texas has not authorized the degrees and many science groups have been alarmed at the prospect of the institute training science teachers.
A California grand jury on Monday unsealed indictments charging two animal rights activists with 10 counts of threatening scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported. UCLA has become a top target for vandalism and threats by radical animal rights groups. The two who were indicted pleaded not guilty and are being held in custody.
A state audit has found that the University of Tennessee reported receiving $6.4 million in donations last year that the university never in fact received, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The missing gifts -- most for athletics -- were in pledges that were never paid. University officials said that they have since made the necessary adjustments in accounting statements.
Three students at Lewis University, in Illinois, have been charged with disorderly conduct in an incident in which they are alleged to have made racial slurs to students in the dormitory room below theirs, and to have then lowered a noose outside the dormitory window, the Chicago Tribune reported.