Quick Takes: Old Dominion's Mistake, Hopkins Sanctions Fraternity, Education Dept. Eyes College Board Panel on Aid System, Kaplan Wants to Launch in UK, LSU Medicine Returns to New Orleans, Segregating Women in Iran

November 21, 2006
  • After a computer error incorrectly gave 78 students at Old Dominion University tuition refunds -- in some cases thousands of dollars each -- the university is demanding the money back, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Some of the students, who have already spent the money, asked the university about the refunds when the money appeared and were incorrectly told that they were entitled to them. The newspaper quoted Roseann Runte, president of the university as saying that when told that they would have to repay the money, "some of the students did not take this very well."
  • Johns Hopkins University on Monday announced that it had placed its Sigma Chi chapter on "social probation" -- meaning that it cannot hold parties or other social activities -- until January 2008 because of a Halloween party that featured racial stereotypes last month. The "Halloween in the 'Hood' " party featured, among other things, a plastic skeleton dressed in pirate garb hanging from a rope noose, and the invitation played on a number of stereotypes. The fraternity has also been ordered to include a diversity component in orientation for new members. Hopkins indicated that separate charges were being considered against individual students -- at least one of whom has gone public on being charged -- but that federal law barred the university from disclosing any actions it had taken. The Hopkins party was among a series of racially charged incidents on campuses in recent weeks.
  • A U.S. Education Department official said Friday that the department would be closely watching the work of a new College Board panel that is studying the student financial aid system, with a focus on the federalprograms. The panel, headed by Sandra Baum, a Skidmore College economist and senior policy analyst at the College Board, and Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, was appointed earlier this fall and is "completely independent" of the Education Department and its process for carrying out the report of the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, Baum said. The Spellings panel called for "restructuring" or "consolidating" the federal student aid programs, a recommendation that makes many college officials fearful that programs will be eliminated and funds shrunk, and Vickie Schray, a top aide to Spellings, said at a conference Friday that the secretary might seek to piggyback on the College Board panel's work. But Baum said in an interview Monday that her panel, which includes mostly researchers and a handful of policy makers, has no such preconceived objectives.
  • Kaplan International is preparing to seek permission to become Britain's first for-profit university, The Financial Times reported, which indicated that some British university adminisrators are not happy about the development.
  • Louisiana State University has re-opened part of its New Orleans hospital, which was shut following Hurricane Katrina, The Times-Picayune reported.
  • Religious leaders in Iran have started a campaign to end all university programs that educate men and women together, The Guardian reported. The push follows the release of statistics showing dramatic gains for women at Iranian universities, where they now outnumber men in key programs. The Guardian quoted a cleric as saying that universities were turning into "fashion shows."
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