Quick Takes: Conflicts of Interest in Study Abroad, Education Experience Not Needed, AAUP on Antioch, Decline of For-Profit Chain, Lab Safety, Bush on Immigration, Falwell Pays Off Liberty's Debt, Suit on Shift of Loan Funds, Iraqi Library Seized

August 13, 2007
  • Many colleges have arrangements with companies and nonprofit groups that financially reward colleges, but not students, when students enroll in certain study abroad programs -- and many students are unaware of these ties when they pick their study abroad programs, The New York Times reported. The article noted similarities between these arrangements and relationships between colleges and student loan providers that have come under fire in the last year.
  • The chancellor of Alabama's community college system doesn't want a lack of education experience to disqualify potential candidates for two-year-college presidencies. The Press-Register reported that Bradley Byrne, the chancellor, told a meeting of the Business Council of Alabama: "We're looking for managers ... people who have the intelligence and the background and the experience. It doesn't matter whether you get it in education. You, too, could be a two-year college president."
  • The American Association of University Professors has written to the leaders of Antioch University questioning the decision to suspend operations of Antioch College, the role (or lack of a role) played by faculty members in the decision, and concerns that professors' role in Antioch's governance has been diminished. The letter also calls for Antioch to pledge that -- should the college resume operations -- its tenure system would be intact. Antioch officials have not issued a response to the letter.
  • The 2004 purchase of the Chubb Institute, a for-profit education, by a private equity firm and other investors was seen as a way to rescue the operation. But The Washington Post reported that the change in ownership has not solved the chain's problems: It faces accreditation woes, suits and financial problems.
  • Two powerful members of Congress have announced hearings on the safety of biosafety laboratories. U.S. Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Committee and Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak, chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight Investigations, announced the plans. The labs in question, many at universities, study some of the most dangerous infectious viruses and biological agents that exist. "The potential human health risks involved in this kind of research dictate that we take a close look at whether these biosafety labs are being designed, constructed, and operated safely,” said Stupak. “Is there a point at which there are so many labs doing this research that you actually increase the chances of a catastrophic release of a deadly disease?"
  • President Bush announced plans Friday to enhance training opportunities for adult educators who guide immigrants through the naturalization process through eight regional training conferences and the introduction of a Web-based training program covering U.S. government, civics and naturalization this fall. Bush also announced that the Department of Education will unveil a free online portal intended to help immigrants learn English as part of a series of immigration reforms, which largely focus on stepping up border security and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  • The late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty University, took out life insurance policies that left the university $29 million, a little more than the university's debt, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported.
  • A group of borrowers of student loans has filed a class action challenging a plan in Missouri to use profits and funds from the state student loan agency to finance construction projects at public colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. Missouri officials have hailed the plan as a creative way to finance improvements in public higher education, but the suit charges that the funds are being misused and should be directed toward getting better repayment terms for borrowers.
  • The director of Iraq's National Library is criticizing U.S. and Iraqi military forces for occupying portions of the library as they prepare security for a Shiite pilgrimage event, the Associated Press reported. Saad Eskander, said that the troops could easily damage the rare books and documents -- and could make the library a target for attacks. "I hold the Iraqi and the U.S. armies responsible for any damage inflicted on priceless documents or any human casualties due to this illegal operation," Eskander told the AP. "Any damage or theft will represent a cultural catastrophe along the lines of the looting of the Iraqi Museum after the fall of Baghdad in 2003."
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