Quick Takes: No Approval for 'Emergency' Transfer Survey, Details and Disputes on AP Scandal, Dolly Closes Some Campuses, Medical Information Project, Sports Secrecy at Rutgers, Berkeley Wins Construction Battle, Federal Spanking Policy

  • The U.S.
  • July 24, 2008
  • The U.S. Education Department has apparently failed to obtain permission for an "emergency" survey of Pell Grant recipients about their experiences obtaining transfer credit, according to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Many college officials objected both to the substance of the survey and the alleged emergency -- saying the department was trying for an end run around standard procedures to assure that such surveys are designed in appropriate ways.
  • Details are emerging in what is shaping up as a testing scandal in the Advanced Placement program. The Educational Testing Service voided the scores of nearly 400 students who took the test in an Orange County high school this year -- and some are now suing. The Los Angeles Times reported that ETS now says that due to inadequate monitoring, some students were able during the testing to talk, consult study materials, send text messages, and leave the room in groups. At the same time, ETS has admitted that it doesn't know which students cheated and which didn't -- leading to student charges of unfairness.
  • Hurricane Dolly slammed into the coast of Texas Wednesday, causing a number of institutions to close campuses or call off classes. The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College closed their shared campus at the end of the day Tuesday and all day Wednesday. The campus will remain closed on Thursday but so far, no damage beyond downed tree limbs has been reported, said Letty Fernandez, director of news and information. The University of Texas-Pan American also closed its campus on Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday but evening classes are scheduled to resume Thursday. Texas A&M University at Kingsville closed its campus Wednesday and Thursday. Classes were canceled for Friday as well, but the campus is expected to reopen that day for other purposes. South Texas College closed its campuses and even “suspended its normal Internet operations,” according to its Web site. Things are expected to back to normal Friday. At Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, classes were canceled Wednesday and Thursday, with only essential personnel required to work on Wednesday. No students were evacuated, said Marshall Collins, assistant vice president for marketing and communications. No damage was reported.
  • A shared, online medical encyclopedia -- Medpedia -- was announced Wednesday, and it has considerable backing from academic medicine. Among the institutions participating are the medical schools at Harvard and Stanford Universities and the University of Michigan, and the public health school at the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Rutgers University made a series of previously undisclosed deals to keep its highly sought football coach happy, The Star-Ledger of Newark has found. On Tuesday, the newspaper disclosed that the university had agreed to a side deal that pays Greg Schiano an extra $250,000 on top of the $2 million that he can earn annually under his regular contract. The money is paid by a sports marketing firm with which Rutgers contracts, to keep it off the university's books, The Star-Ledger reported. Wednesday, the newspaper reported that President Richard McCormick acknowledged an agreement that will allow the coach to leave Rutgers after the 2009 season (without paying a $500,000 contract-breaking fee) if the university has not completed a 14,000-seat stadium expansion that it rushed to begin this year. University officials apologized for having failed to disclose either accord, which led state lawmakers to seek an investigation by state officials.
  • After numerous court hearings and months of tree-sitting protests, the University of California at Berkeley has won the right to build a new athletic facility opposed by some environmentalists. A judge on Wednesday agreed to lift an injunction that had been blocking progress. While the university agreed to some modifications in its plans to win judicial approval, the basic project now has legal backing.
  • The good news for higher ed is that she wasn't talking about accrediting agencies that have crossed her, or colleges that haven't seen the light on national comparisons of learning outcomes, but Education Secretary Margaret Spellings (jokingly we must admit) suggested the time may be right for a federal policy on spanking. Her platform was "The Colbert Report," and she spent most of her time arguing with the host, who defended the idea of leaving some children behind.
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