Quick Takes: Milton Friedman Dies, $261M for Emory, California 2-Year Colleges Criticized, Fallout From MIT Dispute, Explaining Graduation Rates, Kennedy Lays Out Priorities, 'Standing Still' on Basic Research

November 17, 2006
  • Milton Friedman, a leading champion of free market economics and a foe of government intervention, died Thursday at the age of 94. He was a leader of the Chicago School of economics, based in the economics department at the University of Chicago, and he won the Nobel for economic science in 1976. Publications around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, and The Australian, weighed in on the significance of Friedman's career.
  • The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has announced plans to contribute $261.5 million to Emory University, to be used primarily to modernize medical facilities, but also to support programs in the university's strategic plan.
  • A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California criticizes the state's community colleges for having low graduation and transfer rates. Half of all students in the mammoth system -- the largest in American higher education -- don't return for a second year, the report found. The transfer rate for Asian students was double the rate for students from other minority groups.
  • Susumu Tonegawa, a Nobel laureate who has been criticized for his role in an controversial faculty search at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has quit his position as head of a neuroscience center he created, but will continue to teach and do research at MIT, The Boston Globe reported. Tonegawa discouraged a rising star in neuroscience from accepting a faculty position at MIT and while an institute investigation found no evidence that sexism was behind his actions, as some charged, it said some of his actions were inappropriate.
  • Graduation rates at four-year colleges and universities are heavily influenced by the socioeconomic background of students, with rates dropping as the proportion of low-income students enrolled increases, according to a report released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Women graduate at higher rates than do men, the study found.
  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who will head the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the 110th Congress, laid out his priorities for higher education and other areas under the committee's domain Thursday. In addition to proposals other Democrats have put forward for increasing spending on Pell Grants and cutting interest rates on student loans, Kennedy also reiterated his plans to increase oversight of lenders, particularly providers of private loans, focused on deals they strike to appear on colleges' preferred lists of alternatives for students.
  • The United States has been "standing still" on support for basic research in the physical sciences, potentially endangering the U.S. economy and security, according to a new report, "Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security and Economic Competitiveness," issued by the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation.
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