Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 15, 2009 - 3:00am

The rates at which college students engage in binge drinking and drunk driving and die in alcohol-related incidents are all on the rise, according to data being released today in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that drinking-related accidental deaths among 18- to 24-year-old students have been edging up -- from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005. Further, they found that the proportion of students who reported recent binge drinking increased from 42 percent to 45 percent, and that the proportion who admitted to drinking and driving in the past year increased from 26.5 percent to 29 percent.

Friday, June 12, 2009 - 3:00am

David Ashley, president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for three years, may not reach four, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Ashley rushed back from a trip to Singapore -- a trip the system chancellor didn't want him to make -- to deal with demands that he resign. He has been criticized for his "lax" management style, for not being sufficiently engaged on campus, and over clashes between his wife and some employees, the newspaper reported.

Friday, June 12, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is receiving a $100 million gift from former Texas Gov. Bill Clements, The Dallas Morning News reported. Not only is the gift a large one for this period of economic uncertainty, but there are no restrictions on the use of the gift -- and gifts of that size rarely come without any stipulations.

Friday, June 12, 2009 - 3:00am

Martha Minow was on Thursday named the next dean of Harvard University's law school -- one of the most prominent positions in legal education nationally. Minow, who has taught at the law school since 1981, is known for a wide range of intellectual interests and for leading the efforts to reform the law school's curriculum in recent years. The curricular reforms -- radical for the tradition-bound institution -- involve having students spend significant amounts of time solving legal problems by simulation and through mock litigation, rather than by focusing entirely on interpreting legal doctrines and appellate opinions. Minow succeeds Elena Kagan, who left the dean's position when she was nominated by President Obama to serve as solicitor general of the United States.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 3:00am

A coalition of science organizations has issued a call for reform of visa procedures that have made it difficult -- unnecessarily so, in the view of these groups -- for foreign students and scholars to get into the United States for study, research and teaching. The statement notes increasing concerns about delays growing, and praises recent steps by the Obama administration to deal with the problems. Going forward, the statement calls for a series of additional steps, including:

  • Streamlining the visa process for short-term visitors in science and technology.
  • Reducing the "repetitive processing" of visa applications by "well known researchers and scholars who regularly visit the United States."
  • Creating protocols "to make treatment of applicants more consistent."
  • Reconsidering the technologies that place subject areas on an alert list for special reviews of those seeking to work in those areas in the United States.
  • Renegotiating visa reciprocity agreements with other countries.

"Our nation needs a visa system that supports international exchange and cooperation," says the statement. "We are confident that it is possible to have a system that protects national security, and yet is still timely and transparent, provides for thorough reviews of applicants, and welcomes the finest talent. Scientific exchange and security are not mutually exclusive; to the contrary, they complement each other, and each is vital to the other."

Among the groups that organized the statement: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 3:00am

For more than a year, Lambuth University has been experiencing severe financial problems, leading to turnover of key officials, a series of budget cuts, and late payrolls. The university is now in talks with Tennessee officials about becoming a public institution, The Jackson Sun reported. An appropriations bill before the Tennessee General Assembly would direct the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to study the feasibility of the state obtaining the facilities, property and assets of Lambuth. Among the issues a takeover would have to address: Lambuth is currently affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Idaho is investigating apparent discrepancies in the way the director of its veterinary teaching center denied the existence of research that was found by the Associated Press to exist. The Idaho Statesman reported that Marie Bulgin, director of the center and a past president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, told a legislative committee and a federal court that there was no research showing the transmission of a bacteria that causes pneumonia from domestic sheep to wild bighorns, but the research center apparently had conducted unpublished research documenting such transmission. Bulgin told the AP that she didn't know about the research in question.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 3:00am

In a move that is projected to save the institution nearly $60,000 annually, the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse is planning to eliminate its men’s tennis and baseball teams. The proposed cuts are part of a $400,000 trimming of the university’s operating budget. Before these teams can be eliminated, the university must get the approval of the members and leadership of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a nine-institution group within Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Joe Gow, La Crosse's president, called the move “one of the most difficult decisions [he has] ever had to make.” Nevertheless, he argued, “Our current financial constraints force us to confront the reality that in the future we will not be able to sustain our current range of sports programs.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 3:00am

Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives education committee, is leaving the panel to take the same position on the House Armed Services Committee, creating a vacuum in his party at a time when the committee will be considering significant student loan and other legislation. Congress Daily reported. McKeon, whose central California district has numerous military installations, became chairman of what is now called the House Education and Labor Committee in 2006 and has served as its top Republican ever since. He has been an outspoken advocate for student loan providers, and is walking away from the committee at a time when it will play a central role in considering the Obama administration's controversial proposal to end the lender-based guaranteed loan program. Who will succeed him is likely to be a vexing issue for his party. The next most senior Republican, Rep. Thomas Petri of Wisconsin, is almost certainly off limits because he supports the competing direct loan program; other candidates, like Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware, are entertaining runs for governor and senator, respectively. Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and John Kline of Minnesota both told Congress Daily that they would seek to replace McKeon on the education committee.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 3:00am

Federal investigators have ended a probe of the closure of Decker College without bringing charges, the Associated Press reported. Decker was a for-profit college based in Louisville, with other campuses elsewhere, that shut suddenly in 2005, leaving many students angry over commitments they thought they had received from the college. Several probes were announced at the time into what had taken place.

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