Quick Takes: Deadly Fire at Nebraska Wesleyan, More SAT Woes, Iowa Search Implodes, Colleges as Debt Collectors, Loans for Black Colleges, British Universities Warned on Extremists, Rhodes Scholars, Database on College Architecture

November 20, 2006
  • A fire early Friday morning in the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house at Nebraska Wesleyan University killed a sophomore and left three other students with critical injuries, News Net Nebraska reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation and the university is providing counseling for students.
  • A series of articles over the weekend add to the criticism of the SAT. The Washington Post reported on a test administration in which the test monitors napped and ignored rules and students were permitted to set their own time limits and to make phone calls. The Naples Daily News reported on 100 Florida high school students whose scores were lost -- and then found. And Bloomberg reported on some low SAT scores by people whose jobs -- like, for example, being CEO of the Educational Testing Service -- depend on people thinking that the SAT means something significant.
  • The Iowa Board of Regents on Friday voted to restart the search for the president of the University of Iowa and to abolish the search committee that had been named, The Des Moines Register reported. Regents were apparently concerned that finalists being put forward lacked experience to manage the university's health science programs. At the University of Iowa, student and faculty groups were outraged, having participated at length in the search process to date.
  • An investigation by The Boston Globe found that some colleges are getting increasingly tough on collecting the debts owed by students or former students. The newspaper's review of court records found that Boston and Northeastern Universities file an average of 200 lawsuits a year against former students.
  • Historically black colleges that participate in a federal loan program for their facilities see value in the effort, but only about half of the $375 million in available loan capital has ever been borrowed, according to an analysis released Friday by the Government Accountability Office. The report recommended improvements in communication about the program, and also suggested that the Education Department rethink its requirement for monthly repayments, rather than the semiannual repayment schedule used by many private lenders.
  • The British government on Friday issued guidance for universities on how their professors and other employees could help identify potentially violent Muslim groups that are recruiting new members on their campuses. Bill Rammell, the minister of higher education, said that a government review had found "evidence of serious, but not widespread Islamist extremist activity" at British universities. The guidance did not include some language in previous, leaked versions of the guidance that Muslim groups said would encourage "Islamic McCarthyism" on campuses, but some Muslim groups continue to have questions about the policies and why similar guidance isn't being issued on other kinds of extremist groups, The Guardian reported.
  • The Rhodes Trust on Saturday named the next 32 Rhodes Scholars from the United States, who will receive two or three years of full scholarships to study at the University of Oxford. In recent years, the dominance of a few elite institutions in the competition has been challenged by some others, but not this year. Harvard University students won six of the awards, followed by Yale University with four, and Stanford University with three. Among the public institutions each having one student winner: Montana State University and the Universities of Minnesota, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Oregon and Pittsburgh.
  • The Council of Independent Colleges has launched the Historic Campus Architecture Project, an online database with information on hundreds of historically significant buildings and spaces on private college campuses.
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