Quick Takes: President Fired at CC of Denver, ABA Proposes New Accreditation Rules, States Urge Senate Action on Loan Reforms, Carlow U. Takes on Steakhouse, Bush Plans Stem-Cell Veto and Research Effort, Dubious Degree for Swedish Official

June 20, 2007
  • Christine Johnson was fired Tuesday as president of the Community College of Denver, following an audit that found "serious procedural concerns" at the college, The Rocky Mountain News reported. Among the concerns identified by the audit: that Johnson allegedly told the chief financial officer to misrepresent the cash the college had on hand, and that she allowed an instructor to create programs on the college's behalf in the United Arab Emirates. But Johnson told the newspaper that she had been "framed" and that she was being punished for having criticized the state community college system's implementation of a new computer system that she said was responsible for many of the problems cited in the audit.
  • The American Bar Association on Tuesday proposed a shift in the way accredited law schools demonstrate that a sufficient portion of their graduates pass state bar exams. Under one option, a law school would have to show that in at least three of the most recent five years, in the jurisdiction in which the largest proportion of the school’s graduates take the bar exam for the first time, they pass the exam above, at or no more than 10 points below the first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in that jurisdiction. For schools from which more than 20 percent of graduates take their first bar examination in a jurisdiction other than the primary one, the schools also would be required to demonstrate that at least 70 percent of those students passed their bar examination over the two most recent bar exams. Law schools unable to satisfy the first alternative still could comply by demonstrating that 80 percent of all their graduates who take a bar examination anywhere in the country pass a bar examination within three sittings of the exam within three years of graduation. The proposed rules are now subject to a comment period before ratification.
  • Thirty-two state attorneys general, led by New York's Andrew Cuomo and Florida's Bill McCollum, on Tuesday urged Senate leaders to join their House counterparts in enacting the Student Loan Sunshine Act to rein in potentially improper relationships between student loan providers and college officials -- -- and to do so quickly. Explaining the letter to several top lawmakers in the Senate, Cuomo said that the student loan scandal of recent months "calls for a national solution.... We need a federal law that will enhance the states’ investigations of improper and illegal activities in the college loan industry.” Higher Education Act legislation that the Senate plans to take up today would put in place most of the provisions of the Student Loan Sunshine Act, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) noted in a response to the attorneys general. But that legislation may not be fully enacted for months.
  • Carlow University, a Pittsburgh institution that primarily educates women, has gone public in a trademark dispute with Morton's, the Steakhouse over the phrase "women of spirit." The university maintains that it has exclusive trademark rights to the phrase, which it uses for various programs to promote women's leadership. Morton's recently started using the phrase for events it is holding at its restaurants to honor "amazing women" through special dinners featuring women who are wine makers or sommeliers. The dinners also raise money for the American Red Cross. The statement from the university said, "Carlow has made every effort to resolve the unauthorized use of its trademark privately. It is unfortunate that a trademark which stands for the highest levels of academic and professional accomplishment of women is being exploited by an organization with no ties to Carlow and in a manner that promotes alcohol consumption." A Morton's spokesman said that the restaurant chain had agreed, "as a good neighbor" to change the name of its event in Pittsburgh, but that the phrase "women of spirit" was widely used, and he suggested a Google search to verify that. A Carlow spokeswoman said last night she believed Morton's had agreed not to use the phrase in the future, and that the university aired its dispute to avoid confusion over whether Carlow had any link to the dinners.
  • President Bush plans to announce a new initiative Wednesday aimed at encouraging scientific research on "regenerative" therapies, to try to stem criticism he will inevitably face as he again vetoes legislation to expand federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells, The New York Times reports today. Administration officials told the Times that the president would issue an executive order directing the health and human services secretary to promote research that produces cells like those human embryonic stem cells, but without destroying embryos. But scientists dismissed the initiative, which contains no money, as an empty gesture.
  • Sweden's labor minister has been caught up in a dispute over his degree from an unaccredited Louisiana institution that has now moved to the Cayman Islands, according to reports in Swedish newspapers. The minister, Sven Otto Littorin, listed on his resume an M.B.A. he received from Fairfax University, which several states have deemed unacceptable as a credential. Littorin said he earned the degree through distance learning while he worked in the United States, but the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education rejected it as a illegitimate credential. "We would not rate a degree taken there," Lars Petersson, head of the department for evaluation of foreign qualifications, told the Swedish publication Svenska Dagbladet.
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