Quick Takes: New Chief for Career College Group, $500M for Energy Research, More Aid at Ga. Tech, Blocking Easy Grades for Athletes, Stem Cell Guidelines, Appeals Court Extends Athlete's ADA Suit, Settlement in Landmark Case, Porn at Ball State

February 2, 2007
  • A technology trade association executive and former Democratic political candidate is the new head of the main association for for-profit, career-oriented colleges. The Career College Association announced Thursday that its Board of Directors had chosen Harris N. Miller as its new president and chief executive officer. Miller spent 11 years as president of the Information Technology Association of America and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination -- representing the party's liberal wing -- for the U.S. Senate seat for Virginia that James Webb eventually won in November. Miller has experience in the for-profit sector of higher education -- he's been on the board of ITT Educational Services, Inc. -- but association leaders are hopeful that he will be able to rebuild the group's ties with the rest of higher education, which have frayed in recent years.
  • BP, the energy company, announced Thursday that two universities and one national lab would lead in the creation of the Energy Biosciences Institute, which will attempt to develop new sources of energy and to reduce energy consumption. The research effort will receive $500 million in support, and will be led by the University of California at Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A major initial project will be research on biotechnology that produces biofuels.
  • The Georgia Institute of Technology on Thursday announced Tech Promise, a program that will assure that students from families with family incomes less than $30,000 will be able to obtain their degrees debt-free.
  • An article in the Los Angeles Times details how the University of Southern California discovered a pattern in which athletes were taking a foreign language course at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, earning higher grades than they would have at their home institution, and transferring the credit back. The article details how Southern California decided to disallow the grades and the tensions that grew out of the athletes' strategy.
  • An international panel has issued ethics guidelines for performing research with stem cells, The New Scientist reported. The guidelines are not legally binding on anyone but could influence debates in various countries.
  • A federal appeals court has resuscitated a lawsuit with a byzantine and bizarre history that accuses Temple University and the University of Iowa of discriminating against a learning disabled athlete in carrying out the National Collegiate Athletic Association's academic rules. In a decision issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the NCAA and the universities must defend themselves against charges that they violated Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act by declaring Michael Bowers ineligible to compete as a freshman under the NCAA's eligibility standards. The court concluded that even though the University of Iowa is entitled to 11th amendment immunity, Congress waived immunity under Title II of the disabilities law, so the university must defend the lawsuit. The lawsuit, which the court's opinion describes as an "ongoing saga," has survived a fight over whether the plaintiff's lawyers inappropriately withheld medical records from the defense and even the death of Bowers himself from an apparent drug overdose in 2002.
  • A landmark case involving affirmative action -- which reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 -- was finally settled this week. The University of Michigan agreed to pay $10,000 each to two plaintiffs who successfully challenged the admissions policies of the university's main undergraduate college, The Ann Arbor News reported. The university may also end up paying some damages to other applicants who failed to be admitted while the institution was using its old affirmative action policies. While the Supreme Court in 2003 upheld the right of the University of Michigan to use affirmative action in admissions, the justices did so in a case involving the law school, while rejecting the affirmative action approach used at the undergraduate level.
  • A porn producer who is trying to turn Muncie, Ind., into a hub for his industry upset Ball State University when officials there found out that a "horror film" he shot on the campus, with permission and with Ball State students, was actually part of the "horror porn" genre, The Star Press reported. Officials said that if they had known more about Vampire Diaries, permission to shoot on campus would have been denied.
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