Quick Takes: Agenda for the Candidates, Aid Ban for Drug Convicts Upheld, Deadbeat Dad as Donor, CFO Views, Settlement With Test-Prep Company, Michigan Opens Health Curriculum, Ghana Trip Faulted, No SMU Pub, Academy Names Members, Philosophical Muffin

April 30, 2008
  • The State Higher Education Executive Officers on Tuesday released a set of proposals for the presidential candidates, urging them to pledge to work to increase by 1 million the annual production of postsecondary degrees and certificates. The proposals also call on the campaigns to simplify and expand support for federal financial aid, commit to expanded support for research, and to set as "a clear national goal" that the United States be "second to no other nation" in educational attainment or research excellence.
  • Congress was within its rights to bar students convicted of drug offenses from receiving federal student aid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Tuesday. While the ban on aid has been criticized for many reasons, the specific question before the appeals court was whether the ban is double jeopardy, in that students face whatever criminal sanctions were imposed for their conviction and lose aid eligibility. But the court ruled that loss of student aid was not a punishment, such as a jail term, that raised questions of jeopardy.
  • Should a university accept a major gift from a deadbeat dad? That's the question facing Michigan State University after the children of a man who has announced a planned bequest of $1 million said that their mother should first get what is owed her (about $59,000), The Detroit News reported. The donor doesn't deny that he failed to pay required child support -- or say why. Michigan State officials are rejecting the idea that they agree to divert a small share of the donation to make up for what is owed, saying that the children (now grown) have the right to seek legal redress against their father. Further, because the gift is in the form of a planned bequest, the university doesn't have the funds now.
  • Finance officers at private colleges expect a continued rise in tuition, in part because of an "arms race" among institutions seeking to compete with facilities and programs, according to a survey of officials at 100 institutions by the Independent 529 Plan, a prepaid tuition program for private colleges.
  • A test-prep company in Texas, Karen Dillard's College Prep, will pay $1 million to settle a copyright lawsuit in which the College Board accused it of illegally obtaining and using some SAT questions. Of the payment, $400,000 will be in the form of free test-prep services for low-income students.
  • In the latest example of a university opening curricular materials, the University of Michigan on Tuesday announced a program to make available free materials related to the pre-clinical portions of health curricula. The idea is to help educators in developing nations.
  • An independent investigator has confirmed earlier reports that University of Washington students on a study abroad program in Ghana were undernourished and that the university official in charge did not respond appropriately to illness, poor academic offerings and other mistreatment, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
  • Southern Methodist University -- an institution trying to fight a party school image it considers outdated -- on Tuesday announced a wide ranging plan to curb alcohol abuse. But SMU's leaders rejected one idea that had been put forward by a committee that came up with the plan -- adding a pub to the campus. Proponents said it would be safer to create someplace on campus for students of legal age to drink. But R. Gerald Turner, the president, said that campuses with successful pubs tend to have larger proportions of students age 21 and over. Most SMU students who live on campus, he noted, are freshmen who can't drink legally, while the seniors who could drink tend to live off campus.
  • The National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday announced the election of 72 new members.
  • As part of a project for a philosophy course at New York University, a student baked a muffin with razor blades inside, as well as a number of unarmed muffins. The New York Sun reported that the muffins were left behind after class and that another group of students started to eat them. While one student did start in on the muffin with razors, he was unhurt. The muffin project was part of an assignment on absurdism.
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