Students at Newnham College, part of the University of Cambridge, have rewritten a Latin Grace said before the weekly formal meals where they dine together, and more than a few eyebrows have been raised as a result, The Times of London reported. According to the Times, the prayer has been said as: “Benedic nobis Domine Deus et his donis quae de liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.” (Translation: “Bless us Lord God and bless these gifts which by your generosity we are about to eat, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.") The new version, prepared to be more inclusive of students from many faiths, is as follows: “Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus." (The translation: “For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.") Mary Beard, a Cambridge classics professor who blogs for the Times, has published a critique of the new language. Beard writes that "the undergraduates' rewrite was a classic case of disguising a load of well meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The College Board is postponing plans to introduce a standardized test for eighth graders -- a test that the board said would promote rigor in high school and that critics said wasn't justified educationally but was just a money-making tool for the organization. The College Board announced plans for the new exam -- ReadiStep -- in October. Word that the test has been put off -- due to the economy -- surfaced Thursday when The Big Money, a division of Slate, published a highly critical article about the various ways that the College Board makes what the article called "gobstopping amounts of money" off of students. The article cited ReadiStep's launch as another way to make money, and the online magazine corrected that assertion after being informed by the College Board that it had decided to postpone the new test.
Most states that have already decided how to allocate the education funds they're receiving from the federal stimulus package are directing the bulk of the money to elementary and secondary education, according to an analysis of 13 states by the New America Foundation. The group's analysis, which is based on applications that the Education Department has already approved for how states plan to use the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, largely mirrors the (somewhat diminished) expectations of college officials that the recovery package would totally bail them out of financial trouble. New America's analysis shows that while states such as Oregon and Georgia will use significant portions of their stabilization funds on higher education, several others are planning to spend virtually every penny on K-12.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has laid off five employees as part of budget cuts necessitated by diminished investments and declines in its conference revenue, the group announced Wednesday. Many higher education associations have suffered drops in attendance at their annual conferences, and it is not surprising that groups that have colleges or their employees as members would struggle given the financial difficulties that institutions themselves are facing. "The recent economic downturn has affected everyone, including many of our member colleges and universities, and NASFAA is no different," Philip R. Day Jr., the group's president, said in a news release. The NAFSAA statement said that the association's "institutional membership reached historic highs this year," but NASFAA may have been particularly vulnerable because of the struggles facing the student loan industry and the association's 2007 decision -- prodded by New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo -- to severely limit sponsorships at its annual meeting, which had long had a heavily corporate feel to it. Among those laid off this week were Larry Zaglaniczny, the group's vice president for Congressional affairs since 1988 and a fixture on the Washington higher ed lobbying scene for more than 30 years. NASFAA's budget cuts come at a time when Day, the president, is being investigated for alleged improprieties in his old job, at the City College of San Francisco.
Clarence G. Newsome is leaving the presidency of Shaw University as the institution faces a growing deficit, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The historically black college faces a debt of about $20 million. In December, more than 100 students held a protest in Newsome's office over dormitory conditions, the newspaper reported, including moldy bathrooms, toilets that don't work and overcrowding. Supporters have vowed to raise money to help the institution, and all 40 members of the college's board have agreed to donate at least $50,000 each.
Epsilen, the online education company of The New York TImes, is today naming Jim Bowler as chief executive officer. Bowler joined Epsilen in January as an executive consultant working with the company’s board of directors. Prior to joining Epsilen, he was chief executive officer and president of two online entities: Classroom Connect and Harcourt Connected Learning. He has served as chief executive officer of Kids123 and senior vice president of marketing for Computer Curriculum Corporation, a division of Pearson Education. Epsilen offers professors tools to post portfolios , communicate with colleagues or students, and to create materials -- many drawing from the Times achives -- for classroom use.
President Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University Wednesday night and joked about the controversy over the university's decision not to award him an honorary degree. While honorary degrees are commonly given to commencement speakers -- most of whom have never achieved something on par with, for example, being elected president of the United States -- Arizona State officials said that they believed Obama had not yet completed a "body of work" worthy of the honor. In his remarks, Obama mixed some jokes about the flap with serious thoughts about not resting on one's laurels. “I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven’t achieved enough in my life.... First of all, Michelle concurs with that assessment. She has a long list of things I have not yet done waiting for me when I get home," he said, according to an account in The New York Times. And while calling the controversy “much ado about nothing," he also quipped that “President [Michael] Crow and the board of regents will soon learn about being audited by the IRS." More seriously, he said that “I come to embrace the notion that I haven’t done enough in my life. I heartily concur. I come to confirm that one’s title, even a title like president of the United States, says very little about how well one’s life has been led — and that no matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, always more to learn, and always more to achieve.” Barbs have continued to be aimed at Arizona State over its refusal to offer the honorary degree. This week, "The Daily Show" examined the issue.
WASHINGTON -- Negotiations over possible new regulations to carry out a range of changes in the Higher Education Act ended in acrimony Wednesday amid disagreement about proposed reporting of college outcome measures and the availability of year-round Pell Grants. The negotiation that concluded Wednesday, which covered general non-loan issues, was one of five that the Education Department has been conducting since February to gather recommendations from higher ed professionals and others about how it should carry out changes Congress made to the law with the Higher Education Opportunity Act last summer. (Another, on accreditation issues, resumes next week.) The general session covered an enormously wide range of issues, from fire safety and campus crime to peer to peer file sharing (and even some student aid matters!), and the negotiators reached agreement on the vast majority of them. But most college officials on the panel fought an effort by Education Department officials on the negotiating team to adopt regulatory language that would require colleges to make public job placement rates for any program on their campuses that calculates them, and to publish the methodology used to calculate the rate. College administrators objected that the department's approach went well beyond the more "illustrative" information about alumni satisfaction and student outcomes that the Higher Education Act renewal (after significant negotiation) called on colleges to produce, and many of the negotiators refused to sign off on the language, dooming the talks to a conclusion without "consensus." Negotiators representing two-year and four-year public colleges also balked at a proposal that would require students to have completed 24 hours of academic credit during an academic year to qualify for continuing Pell Grant funds during the following summer, saying such an approach would hurt their students.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Committee on Infractions banned the men's tennis team at the University of South Alabama from postseason competition next year in response to several major violations of association rules. The infractions panel found that the university's former coach had engaged in unethical conduct by providing more than $12,000 in impermissible financial aid to international athletes, giving cash to another player for a visa, and refusing to cooperate with NCAA investigators. The NCAA also concluded that the university had failed to monitor the conduct of the tennis program. South Alabama faced tougher penalties than it might have otherwise because this was its second major infractions case this decade; in addition to the postseason ban, it must vacate all games in which the ineligible athletes participated.
Syracuse University's law school, responding to reports that students were using bathroom breaks during final exams to cheat, has decided to limit students to one restroom visit per exam, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. Exams can last up to four hours. Some students were reportedly using bathroom breaks to use their cell phones to send and receive text messages. The newspaper said that students who present documentation of medical conditions requiring more frequent bathroom visits will be exempted from the new rules.