Authorities in Japan are searching for Craig Arnold, an award-winning poet and assistant professor of English at the University of Wyoming. Arnold has been missing since Sunday, when he disappeared while visiting a volcano site on the island of Kuchinoerabu-jima. Arnold has been working on a book about volcanoes and maintaining a blog about his visits. Family members and friends have created a Facebook group, called Find Craig Arnold, with information about efforts to locate him.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Government Accountability Office has released a report comparing national strategies to attract and fund international students across a number of countries. The report offers no recommendations, but aims to offer better insight, the authors write, "on how higher education is used to advance public diplomacy and development assistance goals."
The University of Notre Dame's graduation saga continues: The university's graduates will hear from a recipient of one of the university's key honors, but no such honor will be awarded this year. Mary Ann Glendon, a professor at Harvard University's law school, was to have received the Laetare Medal, which goes to a Roman Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” But Glendon declined the honor due to the controversy over the university's invitation to President Obama to speak to graduates at commencement. On Thursday, Notre Dame announced that a federal appeals court judge -- John T. Noonan Jr., who received the medal in 1984, would deliver the talk traditionally made at graduation by the person receiving the medal. “In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist – especially in these unusual circumstances – it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “This commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation. Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year.”
The U.S. Education Department's inspector general on Wednesday released the latest in a series of highly critical audits of the department's oversight of lenders and guarantee agencies in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The audit critiques the performance of the department's Federal Student Aid office, saying that it provided inadequate oversight of lenders, loan servicers and guarantors and allowed potential conflicts of interest to exist in some of its key oversight positions, among numerous findings. The audit also maintains that the department failed to respond quickly and fully to previous critical audits; department officials responded that they planned to take additional actions "in the near future."
Gov. Timothy Kaine of Virginia said officials there will investigate how a unit of the state police came to conclude that several religious and historically black colleges in the state were nodes for radicals and potential terrorists, as it suggested in a leaked report, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported. The newspaper reported Sunday that a "threat assessment" report produced by the Virginia Fusion Center, a multi-agency organization housed in state police headquarters, concludes that "Virginia's network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers," and that student groups at unnamed historically black colleges in and around Norfolk "are recognized as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group." It also mentions Regent University, which is affiliated with the evangelist Pat Robertson. While the report acknowledges that its authors did not have evidence linking the colleges to terrorists, "I find the depictions in the report misleading and believe it improperly implicates these fine academic institutions," Kaine said in announcing a state review of the report and the agency that produced it.
Britain's student admissions service is reconsidering requirements that students must report certain criminal convictions when applying to universities. The Guardian reported that the reconsideration follows its reports on an applicant to medical school who was confused about whether he had to report a burglary conviction from his youth. He was rejected from one university, but was admitted to another -- following a meeting with the country's higher education minister, who was sympathetic.
Sports programs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's upper echelon saw their operating budgets grow by 11 percent a year, more than doubling the average rise in spending by their institutions, according to a new NCAA study, USA Today reported. The newspaper said that the report finds that average spending by colleges in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision rose from $31 million in 2004 to $42.2 million in 2007.A copy of the NCAA report can be found here.
An article in The Wall Street Journal reports on the best and worst approaches (from would-be students' perspective) to college rejection letters. Mount Allison University, in New Brunswick, wins praise for adding handwritten notes to all rejection letters, offering specific advice on areas of academic weakness, so students may understand the process. Even in this era in which many applicants learn their fates online, some still focus on snail mail and hope for the "big envelope." But Pennsylvania State University is criticized because it sends applicants it rejects from its main campus a big envelope -- with information about the regional campuses students can attend. As a result, some of those rejected applicants think they are receiving good news, and don't really appreciate the information about the other campuses. And Boston University is criticized for a letter it sends to rejected applicants who have family ties to the university. The letter says: "We give special attention to applicants whose families have a tradition of study at Boston University. We have extended this consideration in the evaluation of your application, but I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission." Rob Flaherty, who received that letter, told the Journal that he viewed BU as saying that "we made it even easier for you and you STILL couldn't get in."
The U.S. Justice Department has indicted several men for their alleged involvement in a broad scheme in which thousands of colleges were bombarded with spam e-mail used to sell millions of dollars of products to their students, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced Wednesday. The indictment alleges that Osmaan Shah, a student at the University of Missouri at Columbia, and his brother, Amir Ahmad Shah, used Missouri's campus network to launch programs that extracted millions of student e-mail addresses from more than 2,000 colleges nationally. They then used the database of student e-mail addresses to send spam that generated more than $4 million in sales of various products. The indictment charges that the men misled students at the various colleges into thinking that they were getting e-mails from campus officials, and cost the colleges and universities that received the spam significant dollar amounts to combat it.
Due to growing concerns about swine flu, some universities have begun canceling study abroad programs in Mexico, including the University of Minnesota, which on Tuesday announced that the 21 students currently in Mexico were being advised to return home and that academic programs beginning in late May had been canceled (affecting 52 students). Various news outlets have also reported the canceling of programs at North Carolina State University and the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, to name a few examples. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week recommended that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.