Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, July 10, 2009 - 3:00am

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has concluded that Suffolk University didn't break the law, but also didn't follow its own rules when it authorized contracts with a trustee's lobbying firm, The Boston Globe reported. The newspaper reported last year on questions raised by the university awarding a contract to the trustee's firm at the same time the board was approving generous contract provisions for the president. While Coakley said that she found no legal violations, she stressed that she looked only at that issue, not whether the arrangements were in the best interests of Suffolk.

Friday, July 10, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin at Madison have expanded their deals with Google Books over digitization of their library collections. The agreements concern Google's project to digitize library collections -- a program controversial in some quarters and praised elsewhere. Under the revised agreements, people nationally will be able to preview collections at the two universities and to buy online access to the books. The deals are similar to the first of the sort Google signed, with the University of Michigan.

Friday, July 10, 2009 - 3:00am

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.”

Friday, July 10, 2009 - 3:00am

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).

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 3:00am

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."

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - 3:00am

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.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 - 3:00am

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.)

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