Quick Takes: Ig Nobel Prizes, Pelosi Pledges Pell Increase, Promoting Engagement, More Travails for Corinthian, U. of Cal. and Nurses in Deal, Nova Southeastern Custodians Unionize, Conviction in Grade-Buying Case, Imperial to Leave U. of London

October 6, 2006

  • Why don't woodpeckers get headaches? Why are dung beetles finicky eaters? Why don't people like the sound of fingernails against a blackboard? Scholars who work on these and other pressing issues were honored Thursday night with Ig Nobel Prizes -- an annual spoof of those other Nobels.
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, on Thursday reiterated her party's promises to make student aid a focus -- should the Democrats regain control of the House in next month's elections. In a speech at Georgetown University, Pelosi said that Democrats would push to increase the maximum Pell Grant by nearly 25 percent and to cut interest rates on student loans in half.
  • A new acronym to learn: A group of colleges and organizations committed to directing academic work and student activities toward civic purposes have formed HENCE, the Higher Education Network for Community Engagement. The new entity, which grew out of a February 2006 Wingspread conference and subsequent report, represents nearly three dozen groups and plans to promote all forms of community service and involvement.
  • Corinthian Colleges, Inc. announced Thursday that the staff of the Nasdaq stock exchange has threatened the company with de-listing for its failure to submit its 2006 annual financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission on time. Corinthian said it has appealed the staff's recommendation and sought a hearing to challenge the ruling, noting that the company had previously told the SEC that it would be filing its Form 10-K late while it conducts an outside review of its awarding of historic stock option grants. The company is one of several for-profit higher education companies facing scrutiny from federal regulators for their procedures and practices in awarding stock options.
  • After many months of negotiation and, more recently, mediation, the University of California has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents its 8,500 nurses. The university said the agreement would increase pay for the nurses, who work in its hospitals and student health facilities, by 5 to 9 percent, keep the nurses as university employees for health benefit purposes, and sustain health benefits for retirees at least through next June, when the university's comprehensive contract with the nurses is set to expire.
  • Custodians at Nova Southeastern University voted to unionize this week, and to affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. Nova Southeastern has outsourced custodial work to UNIOCO, so contract negotiations will be with that company, not the universityh. The vote comes at a time that several colleges have shifted custodial work back from outsourced companies and onto university payroll.
  • A federal jury on Wednesday convicted a woman of bribery for paying a former Southern University officials to change her grades so that she could earn a degree, the Associated Press reported.
  • Imperial College, one of the most prestigious institutions in British higher education, will leave the University of London next year under an agreement set Wednesday, The Guardian reported.


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