Quick Takes: Paying for Passports, Loan Agency Limits Perks, Mansfield to Give Jefferson Lecture, Penn Adds Aid, Provost Ousted, Purdue Probe, UVa Rejects Sustainability Pledge, Chancellor Not Punished for Contract Change

March 23, 2007
  • It's become common for college presidents to tell students that internationalization is important and they should consider study abroad. In her inaugural address Thursday, Ann Weaver Hart -- Temple University's new president -- offered some unusual help. Hart said that starting this summer, she and her husband would pay the passport application fee for any new Temple student who applies for a passport for the first time. The current fee for a passport application is $97.
  • The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency on Thursday adopted strict rules on reimbursing employees and family members for travel-related costs, following much public criticism of past spending that has come to light, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Among past spending that would now be barred: funds for facials, fly-fishing, $25 cigars and pedicures.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities on Thursday announced that Harvey Mansfield, a political scientist at Harvard University, will deliver this year's Jefferson Lecture. Being selected to give the lecture is considered one of the highest honors the U.S. government gives to a humanities scholar. Mansfield's topic will be "How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science." Mansfield is a prolific scholar and has also played a key role in national debates on higher education, in part with his much publicized crusade against grade inflation.
  • The University of Pennsylvania on Thursday announced that it was raising from $50,000 to $60,000 the family income level at which it would replace loans with grants for needy students. When Penn set the $50,000 level last year, it prompted Harvard University -- then offering a similar program for families with incomes of up to $40,000 -- to raise its income level to $60,000.
  • Students and faculty members at Ave Maria University, a new Roman Catholic university in Florida, are stunned and angry about the sudden firing Wednesday of Rev. Joseph Fessio as provost, The Naples News reported. The dismissal came a day after Father Fessio was quoted in a California Catholic publication as endorsing the view that some people are born gay and that treatments in the womb to make them straight could be a "wonderful advancement of science." While gay groups have criticized the idea that they need to be "cured," the view has also upset religious traditionalists who maintain that homosexuality is a choice, and a sinful one.
  • A Congressional committee is seeking access to documents about Purdue University's investigation into a scientist who claimed to have generated nuclear fusion in a desktop experiment, The New York Times reported. While questions have been raised about the findings, Purdue said it found no evidence of scientific misconduct.
  • The University of Virginia has announced that it will not sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. That statement has been signed by 146 institutions' presidents, and while they represent a minority of American higher education, they include many well known institutions and environmental activists have made the statement a top priority. To date, only a few presidents have said that they will not sign. Virginia's explanation of its views said that the university admired the goals of the statements, but said that some of the standards in it involve technologies that have not been fully developed and the costs of which is unclear. Further, the university said that as a public institution, it could not pledge to use funds in certain ways in the future before the state had provided those funds.
  • The board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has announced that it will not impose any punishment on Chancellor Omero Suarez for changing his contract without board approval, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
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