Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 3:00am

Amherst College said Tuesday that it had received separate, unrestricted donations valued at $100 million and $25 million -- its largest gifts ever -- from alumni who wished to remain anonymous. Both donors said they wanted to help Amherst remain both highly selective and accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, said Anthony W. Marx, president of the Massachusetts liberal arts college. “I make this gift in recognition of the unique education I received at Amherst, and as an expression of support of Amherst College’s mission," the $100 million donor said in a news release from the college. "I hope other alumni will be inspired to further support the college, at a time when the economy is stressing the resources of all higher educational institutions. Amherst is a jewel of enlightenment, social mobility based on talent, and preparation for leadership that we must all maintain.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 3:00am

Years after Mississippi pledged to create a $35 million private endowment to support the state's three historically black colleges, only $1 million has been raised and there are no active efforts to add to the fund, The Jackson Clarion Ledger reported. While some advocates for black colleges hope to pressure the state to create the fund, others say it seems clear the endowment will never materialize.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities were among the entities that allegedly miscalculated how many jobs had been saved on their campuses through the use of federal stimulus funds, leading to overcounting of the national numbers, The Wall Street Journal reported. The White House said in recent days that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had saved a total of 640,000 jobs so far, including 325,000 in education. But the Journal finds that some organizations misunderstood the forms or exaggerated the number of jobs that had been saved. Stetson University, for example, counted every part-time student who received work study funds, greatly boosting its count, the Journal said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 3:00am

British government leaders have called on universities to be more inclusive in whom they admit, with less of a focus on grades or test scores in cases where applicants may have potential, The Guardian reported. Peter Mandelson, the business minister, who also has responsibility for universities, said: "What we are saying is that nobody should be disadvantaged or penalised on the basis of the families they come from, of school they attended and the way in which simple assessment based on A-level results might exclude them." While the government can't order changes in admissions policies, its pressure could be significant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Association of Community Colleges announced Tuesday that George R. Boggs would retire in December 2010 after a decade as its president. Boggs, who spent 30 years as an administrator at two-year institutions in California before taking over at AACC in 2001, has led the association at a time of great progress for community colleges. Two-year college officials have praised him as a thoughtful and pragmatic leader.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 3:00am

The fight over academic boycotts of Israel -- which has been centered in Britain -- has shifted to Norway, The Jerusalem Post reported. The board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology will consider a boycott proposal this month, at the request of professors. Israeli academic leaders are organizing a campaign against the plan.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 3:00am

The cities (and colleges campuses) we see in the movies are not always what they claim to be -- and that doesn't go over well with students at Johns Hopkins University. The Social Network is currently being filmed at Hopkins, which is in effect playing the part of Harvard, which doesn't permit commercial films to be shot on its campus. The fee the university is receiving isn't enough to justify pretending to be Harvard, students told The Baltimore Sun. They fear Hopkins looks like a safety school. "The general consensus is, a lot of kids are not pleased," one student told the Sun. "It's obvious they [the filmmakers] could get Hopkins and not get Harvard."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 3:00am

Matteo Fontana, the former general manager for financial-partner services in Education Department's student-aid office, pleaded guilty to conflict-of-interest and false-statement charges over his ownership of stock in a loan company, The Wall Street Journal reported. Fontana held as many as 10,500 shares of Education Lending Group Inc. when he joined the Education Department in 2002, prosecutors said. The holdings became public when Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general, started investigating conflicts of interest between the lending industry and colleges.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Mississippi has altered its fight song to discourage a chant of "the South will rise again," based on the old version. With many fans continuing that chant -- which many find offensive -- Chancellor Dan Jones said Monday that either the chant stops, or he'll bar the song from being played at football games, the Associated Press reported. "The University of Mississippi is a warm and welcoming place. So many have worked hard to make sure our image moves forward, and we don't want anything to hurt that," Jones said in a speech.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 3:00am

About 2,700 teaching and research assistants walked off the job Monday at McMaster University, in Ontario, The Canadian Press reported. Negotiations have resumed on a new contract.

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