Quick Takes: Edwards on Higher Ed, UCLA Sees Surge in Black Frosh, Colleges Fear Chemical Rules, Scholars Reinstate Iranians, Thomson Sells Higher Ed Units, College Nixes Mining Funds, Hunger Strike Ends, Settlement in Duke Case, No Confidence in Philly

May 14, 2007
  • John Edwards, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, on Friday released a series of proposals to improve student access to higher education. The centerpiece is a "College for Everyone" scholarship, which would provide 2 million students with scholarships to cover one year at a public college if they agree to work part-time in college and to take college preparatory courses in high school. The Edwards plan also calls for simplifying the process of applying for federal aid, new incentives for states to keep public tuitions low, and a new program to support the hiring of more guidance counselors at poor high schools. One part of the plan would shift all federal student loans to direct lending, which Edwards projects would save $6 billion a year to support other federal efforts to make college affordable. Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday also spoke about college affordability, using a commencement speech at Claflin University to call for the federal government to expand its role in higher education access and to create more affordable loan options.
  • When the University of California at Los Angeles found that only 2.2 percent of its freshmen last fall were black, the news set off considerable discussion and renewed frustrations at the university with the state's ban on affirmative action. The drop in black enrollment led UCLA to revamp its admissions system, giving more individual consideration to each applicant. On Friday, the university announced that of the students who have accepted UCLA's offer to enroll in the fall, 4.5 percent are black.
  • The American Council on Education and several other college associations are asking the Department of Homeland Security to exempt academic facilities from new anti-terrorism rules until new procedures could be developed that are more "relevant and applicable." The new rules were designed for chemical facilities, but are written in such a broad way that they could end up requiring colleges to do major reviews of safety procedures in just about any building with a science class or lab -- even many buildings that contain relatively few chemicals and that would be unlikely sites for terrorist attacks.
  • The American Chemical Society on Friday announced that it was reinstating Iranian members who had been dropped from membership out of fear that having members from Iran would violate U.S. laws limiting contacts with that country. The society -- which has faced criticism for removing the Iranian members -- said that the change in policy followed a more complete review of legal options. Now, the society will only bar Irananian members from access to certain career services and discounts.
  • The Thomson Corporation on Friday announced the sale of its higher education, reference and library divisions to two investment funds: Apax Partners and OMERS Capital Partners for $7.75 billion. The higher education division includes Wadsworth, Delmar Learning, and Gale.
  • Western State College, in Colorado, has turned down a mining company's request to pay for the annual sports hall of fame banquet, The Daily Sentinel reported. With local residents debating some of the company's mining plans, college officials said that they did not want to appear to have picked a side in the dispute.
  • Students at Harvard University on Friday agreed to end a hunger strike they had been waging for more than a week on behalf of security workers engaged in contract negotiations with an outside company that provides certain security services for the university. The student group, Harvard Stand for Security, said that it was ending its strike because of pledges by Harvard to work for better treatment of outsourced employees and because the security workers wanted the strike to end. A university statement said that Harvard remained committed to fair treatment of employees, but would not intervene in the negotiations between the security workers and their direct employer. The Harvard hunger strike is among several this semester at colleges and universities.
  • Duke University has settled a lawsuit brought by a former lacrosse player who sued the institution, charging that a professor gave him a failing grade because of the allegations about conduct by members of the lacrosse team. Details of the settlement are private, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported, but both sides issued a statement that indicated that the grade in question had been changed to a passing one.
  • Faculty members at the Community College of Philadelphia, who have had a series of disputes with the adminstration and a strike this academic year, have voted no confidence in President Stephen M. Curtis. Professors cited his management style, lack of support for student services and financial problems. A spokesman for the college told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the vote was a result of difficult labor-management negotiations.
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