This week’s hearing about the Bowl Championship Series on Capitol Hill may have been much ado about nothing. After its officials argued before Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Republican from Utah, that the method by which the college football national champion is determined violates federal antitrust law, the Mountain West Conference has agreed to sign a contract extension to keep the system in place for another five years. Conference officials argued that the BCS unfairly limits the access of teams from lower-profile conferences to the national title game and pushed replacing the current system with an eight-team playoff. ESPN reports that the Mountain West Conference was the last of the 11 conferences in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association to sign a deal that gives ESPN the right to televise BCS games until 2014. Michael K. Young, president of the University of Utah and chair of the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors, conceded in a statement that the conference had “no choice at this time but to sign the agreement” because its “good faith initiatives to generate reform have thus far not been accepted.” He maintained, however, that the conference would continue to push for BCS reform and the creation of what he called “an equitable system.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
First James Franco was criticized by some students at the University of California at Los Angeles for not having enough gravitas to be named as commencement speaker. Then the actor was criticized by many others for withdrawing as speaker at the last minute. Now The Harvard Lampoon is presenting the speech (or prep for the speech) that he might have given at UCLA (at least in the minds of Franco and the humor magazine).
Overwhelming majorities of Americans believe that science has had a positive impact on society and that science has made life easier for most people, but Americans don't think as highly of American science as do scientists. Those are the among the results from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Only 17 percent of Americans believe that their country's scientific achievements rate as the best in the world, compared with nearly half (49 percent) of scientists who hold that view.
For the last week, gay and lesbian law students and their supporters at New York University have been debating what to do about the hiring of a visiting professor from Singapore, Thio Li-ann, who was hired to teach human rights law despite her record saying that gay people can have their sexual orientations changed and that gay sexual acts are appropriately treated as crimes. On Wednesday, the board of NYU OUTLaw, a gay student group, issued a statement in which it asked the administration to condemn her views, but rejected the idea of demanding that the job offer be rescinded. A statement from the group's board said that it "thinks it best to fight Dr. Thio's offensive views not by silencing her but by engaging in a respectful and productive dialogue about the boundaries of human rights. This fall, we plan to hold events to explore issues of academic freedom, LGBT rights, and human rights in Asia, and we look forward to Dr. Thio’s participation in the discussion. We very much appreciate the comments from students, alumni, and other concerned parties, and we expect the passion and interest to continue as we plan our events for next year. President Obama recently invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to affirm his belief that the 'arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.' From the cornfields of Iowa to the street markets of India, history is moving towards equality for the LGBT community. We are confident that tolerance and diversity will triumph over hatred and bigotry."
Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell on Wednesday signed legislation to increase regulation of credit card marketing focused on college students. The legislation:
- Prohibits credit card companies from marketing during orientation and class registration periods.
- Requires companies to distribute credit management education materials along with marketing materials.
- Bars companies from offering gifts at athletics events.
- Bars colleges from selling student names and addresses to credit card companies.
U.S. Bank, the sixth largest provider of federally guaranteed student loans, has told its customers that it will stop doing so after this fall, Student Lending Analytics reported Wednesday. U.S. Bank told college officials that it would end its activities in the Federal Family Education Loan Program by September 25. U.S. Bank does not service the loans it makes, and so would have no role in the Obama administration's proposed plan to end the guaranteed student loan program, and relatively little role even in the alternative setup proposed this week by a group of loan providers hoping to sustain elements of the lender-based program.
Craven Williams, president of Greensboro College since 1993, resigned Tuesday, effective immediately, The Greensboro News & Record reported. Professors, expressing concern about mounting debts at the college and their lack of information about plans to deal with financial problems, had been planning a vote of no confidence. As recently as two weeks ago, Williams indicated that he had no plans to leave. In April, Williams cut faculty and staff salaries by 20 percent.
A senior administrator at the State University of New York has taken the unusual step of publicly scolding trustees involved in the search for a new president of Nassau Community College for breaching confidentiality. The complaint, in a memo posted on the college's Web site, stresses the importance of confidentiality. Newsday reported on a series of e-mail messages involving trustees and some politically connected outsiders about the status of various candidates.
A former assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham engaged in scientific misconduct by reporting false information from research in seven publications, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. In an announcement published in the Federal Register, the agency's Office of Research Integrity said that Juan Luis R. Contreras, an assistant professor of surgery at Alabama-Birmingham, had agreed to exclude himself from federal duties for three years, although he did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the agreement. (This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct an error.)
George Washington University is planning to increase, to 10 percent from 6 percent, the share of its $1 billion endowment invested in farms, Bloomberg reported. The news service quoted one of the university's analysts as saying that the fund already has farm investments in Latin America and Eastern Europe and is now looking to Australia. The endowment data collected each year by the National Association of College and University Business Officers is not granular enough to determine whether GW's strategy is unusual.