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Quick Takes: New Leader for TIAA-CREF, Admissions Help From Medical Dean, Caution on Plans for World Test, End of 4 AP Courses, Court Win for Student Downloaders, Saint Vincent Faculty Critique, Oberlin Aid for Pell-Eligible, Concerns at St. Mary's

April 4, 2008
  • TIAA-CREF on Thursday announced that Roger W. Ferguson Jr. will become its next president and CEO, succeeding Herbert M. Allison, who is retiring. Ferguson is moving to TIAA-CREF from Swiss Re, where he was head of financial services. He was formerly vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Under Allison, the pension giant continued a process of expanding the financial services it offers -- which has been crucial to the company at a time that it has faced heightened competition in the higher education pension market.
  • The dean of the University of Florida's medical school admitted a student from a politically connected family who was not endorsed by the school's faculty admissions committee, an apparent breach of medical accreditation standards, The Gainesville Sun reported. The newspaper identified the student as the son of a Republican fund raiser who was a grassroots organizer for Florida's governor, Charlie Crist, during his 2006 campaign. The dean of the College of Medicine, Bruce Kone, told the Sun his decision was not influenced by any political factors, and that he felt justified in breaking with the committee because the candidate was "exceptional.... I certainly respected all of the decisions of the admissions committee, up until one," Kone said.
  • The American Council on Education and other higher education groups are urging the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to proceed with caution in its discussions about creating a common international system to measure the learning outcomes of individual colleges and university systems. David Ward, the ACE's president, said in a letter to OECD leaders that "although your stated intention is not to develop another ranking system, it is highly likely that the results will indeed be used to rank institutions." This is problematic, he wrote, because of highly variable missions and financing systems of different college systems. He added: “Policymakers will undoubtedly be inclined to use the results in ways that will disadvantage those institutions that do not perform well against others, possibly for reasons over which they have no control.”
  • The College Board plans to eliminate Advanced Placement courses in Italian, Latin literature, French literature and computer science AB because they are underenrolled, the first significant retrenchment of the college prep program in its history, The Washington Post reported Friday. The board sent an e-mail message Thursday announcing the eliminations after the 2008-9 academic year, the Post reported.
  • A group of Boston University students have won an early round in their effort to slow down the recording industry's crackdown on illegal downloading on campuses, The Boston Globe reported. A federal judge ruled this week that the university cannot turn over the names of students to record companies until she can review its Internet service agreement to see what privacy protections it affords and demanded to review the names of students who might have been using the electronic addresses sought by the record companies. A lawyer for the recording industry told the newspaper that the decision was a procedural one, but lawyers who oppose the industry's crackdown said it recognized the privacy rights of college students.
  • A majority of the tenured faculty at Saint Vincent College has written a letter to trustees accusing the Pennsylvania institution's president of "systematic and pervasive disregard for collegiality and shared governance" that has "brought about an unparalleled crisis in the history of this institution," according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The letter, which was signed by 32 professors, says that H. James Towey, who headed the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives before taking the reins at Saint Vincent in 2006, intervened inappropriately in rewriting the college's regional accreditation self-study and in ignoring the wishes of a search committee in selecting an "unqualified candidate" to be the new vice president for academic affairs. A spokesman for the institution said that its officials were unavailable to comment on the faculty letter, but Towey told the Post-Gazette that he had not been heavy handed and that "[w]hat I make of it is these are growing pains of a college that is moving forward quickly.... Creative people can disagree on issues of importance."
  • Oberlin College has announced that it is eliminating loans from the aid packages of students who are eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Accreditors have expressed concern about "the appearance of racism and discrimination" over nearly 20 years at St. Mary's College of California, the San Jose Mercury News reported. "After some two decades of discussion and planning ... the commission is deeply concerned that there is so little evidence of tangible results," Ralph Wolff wrote to Brother Ronald Gallagher, the president of the Catholic institution, according to the Mercury News. "The matter now needs to be seen as urgent, requiring immediate attention and moving beyond words and future plans."
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