Quick Takes: Oral Roberts Returns, From FIPSE to HBCU Post, Sociology Lesson, Alternative Look at Default Rates, Rochester Sued Over Dog, California Fires, Radiation Probe, Official Chalking, 'Transparency by Design'

October 23, 2007
  • Oral Roberts returned Monday to the university named for him and vowed that "the devil is not going to steal" the institution, The Tulsa World reported. The current president, Richard Roberts, is Oral's son and is on leave because of accusations of numerous forms of impropriety as well as reports that his wife had an inappropriate relationship with an underage male. Oral Roberts said that the charges are false and that his son would eventually return to the presidency. For now, Oral Roberts will serve as co-interim president, he announced.
  • Education Secretary Margaret M. Spellings has appointed Leonard L. Haynes III as executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Haynes has served in a number of Education Department positions, most recently as director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The White House black college office seeks to promote the institutions and especially their ties to federal agencies. In his career, Haynes has been an administrator or faculty member at several historically black colleges, including Grambling State University, Howard University and Southern University.
  • For the first three weeks of the fall semester, Sian Reid gave her introductory sociology students at Canada's Carleton University an unusual lesson. The Ottawa Citizen reported that Reid appeared in class wearing a niqb, hijab and abaya -- covering her body except for a small slit for her eyes. She didn't identify herself as a Muslim (she's in fact a pagan) and just taught normally, but wanted to get her students thinking. "My whole job, in first-year sociology, really," Reid told the newspaper, "is to make [students] aware of the assumptions they make about the world in their taken-for-granted reality."
  • An education think tank argues in a new report that the Education Department's annual announcement of its "cohort default rate" -- the rate at which the group of student loan borrowers who entered repayment in a certain year defaulted on those loans -- paints too upbeat a picture because it significantly underestimates the rates at which minority students and borrowers with the heaviest debt loads fail to repay their loans. The report by Education Sector, which is based on a 2006 report by the department's own National Center for Education Statistics, finds that borrowers who graduated college in 1992-93 with $15,000 or more in debt were nearly three times as likely as those with less than $5,000 in loans to default, and that black students who graduated that year had an overall default rate that was five times greater than that of white students and nine times higher than that of Asian students. The Education Sector report also notes that the average default occurred four years after graduation, yet the Education Department default report is based on borrowers' status two years after graduation.
  • A student has sued the University of Rochester, saying her civil rights are being violated by the university's failure to allow her to keep a dog on campus to provide emotional support, The Democrat and Chronicle reported. The newspaper reported that colleges are facing more such suits, with plaintiffs asserting that dogs are generally permitted to help people who are blind or have other physical disabilities. The newspaper noted that St. John Fisher College allowed a student to keep a dog for emotional support and that another local college -- Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School -- was sued by two students suffering from anxiety who wanted permission to keep cats on the campus. The suit was settled out of court, confidentially.
  • Pepperdine University was closed Monday and will be closed today because of fires raging nearby, shutting off roads to the Malibu campus. University officials have said that students and employees on the campus are safe, but have been urged to stay put. Several other Southern California colleges are also closed. Among them: California State University at San Marcos, MiraCosta College, the Palomar Community College District, San Diego State University the University of California at San Diego and the University of San Diego.
  • Federal authorities are investigating how a worker at a research reactor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was exposed to a high dose of radiation, the Associated Press reported.
  • Many colleges are promoting new, high-tech systems to inform students of emergencies. Officials at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, seeking to get students to sign up for such services, took to a popular and usually unofficial form of communication. The Chicago Tribune reported that administrators have taken to chalking their messages.
  • A group of colleges that serve adult students on Monday formally announced their effort to measure and report their effectiveness, focusing on outcomes in specific programs. The initiative known as "Transparency by Design, on which Inside Higher Ed reported earlier, has grown to include a mix of 10 nonprofit and for-profit institutions: Capella University, Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College, Fielding Graduate University, Franklin University, Kaplan University, Regis University, Rio Salado College, Western Governors University, and Union Institute & University.
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