Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

The Senate on Tuesday approved a 2010 spending bill that would increase spending on agriculture research by about 5 percent over the current year level and direct about $60 million to specific universities in earmarks designated by individual senators. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly known as the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service) would receive $1.306 billion under the legislation, while the Agricultural Research Service would get $1.229 billion. The food and agriculture institute would receive $1.257 billion under the competing House bill.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Louisville shut many programs Tuesday, and will have some programs closed today, due to record rainfall that left many buildings with up to two feet of water. No injuries were reported by several dozen employees who had to be rescued from one building. Damage estimates, while not final, are expected to be significant.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

In a move that will be welcomed by veterans throughout the state, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has upped the maximum tuition benefit available to California veterans under the new, Post-9/11 GI Bill. The cap had been set at zero due to a trick of semantics: Because the maximum benefit amounts are tied to public, undergraduate, resident tuition and fee rates in a state, and because California public colleges don't charge "tuition" but, rather, "fees" (tuition by another name), the maximum tuition benefit for California veterans had been set at zero (the maximum fee benefit was correspondingly generous, but of limited use to veterans hoping to apply their benefits toward tuition at a private university). The VA has adjusted the cap so that California veterans are now eligible for up to $287 per credit hour toward their tuition, and up to $2,165.25 per term toward their fees.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

Court documents show that 26 scientific articles in journals, all about hormone replacement therapy for women, were at least partly ghostwritten by a medical communications company paid by the pharmaceutical company Wyeth, The New York Times reported. The articles suggested a consensus on the value of the therapy, but that apparent consensus has since fallen apart. Eighteen journals published the articles -- without revealing Wyeth's role.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has purchased BPP Holdings, a major for-profit higher education company in Britain. A statement from Apollo said that the acquisition could lead to an expansion of Apollo operations in Britain and the rest of Europe. The Times Higher noted that the education leaders of the Conservative Party -- increasingly favored in the next general elections -- have expressed interest in seeing an expanded role for for-profit higher education in Britain.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 3:00am

Two groups that represent academic libraries -- the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of College and University Libraries -- have joined an appeal to an injunction banning the publication of 60 Years Later, a planned sequel to Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger sees the sequel -- written under the pen name Mr. C., and telling the story of what happened later in life to Holden Caulfield -- as infringing on his copyright, and a federal judge agreed. But the college library groups, along with other library organizations and civil liberties groups, view the injunction as unfair. In a brief filed with a federal appeals court, they argue that the injunction doesn't recognize the extent to which the new work is -- whatever its merits as a work of art -- a distinct literary work. Allowing the injunction to stand infringes on free expression of the sort that college libraries rely on, the brief argues.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Florida may, like many major universities, be grappling with serious cuts to its academic and other budgets. But the university has in all likelihood just set off another round of eye-popping pay increases for the country's biggest-time college football coaches with its decision Monday to give Coach Urban Meyer a six-year contract worth $4 million a year (up from his current $3.25 million). Meyer's Gators have won the (mythical) national championship in two of the last three years, and Florida's president, Bernie Machen, said this spring that Meyer should and would be compensated like one of the best coaches in the country. The raise makes him the best paid coach in the Southeastern Conference, but he may not have that status for long, Sports Illustrated surmises: Auburn and Louisiana State Universities are reportedly negotiating contracts for their coaches, both of which could easily surpass Meyer. So much for the recession.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees resigned Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Niranjan Shah was the latest person to be done in by the admissions controversy that has embroiled the university; Shah was among the university officials who had been accused of pushing to admit applicants based more on their political connections than their academic credentials. A state panel investigating the admissions controversy called last week for all politically chosen trustees to resign, and Shah is the second to do so.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the country's largest providers of for-profit higher education, announced Monday that it had settled a lawsuit in which stockholders accused the company of having backdated the price of options. The company agreed to a set of changes in its governance and other practices and to pay $2.5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs in the case, but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The Education Department's inspector general said Monday that Sallie Mae had overbilled the U.S. Treasury by $22.3 million in payments made to its Nellie Mae subsidiary from 2003 to 2006. The company inappropriately sought reimbursement from the government for loans financed with tax-exempt bonds, even though the bonds had matured, the inspector general found; Sallie Mae disputed the finding. The lender is the latest in a string of loan providers that the inspector general has found to have abused the tax-exempt bond program, although the Bush administration's Education Department required only one of the lenders, Nelnet, to return the disputed funds.

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