Quick Takes: Court Upholds Punishment Over MySpace Degree Denial, Union Students End India Trip Early, Harvard Reveals Its Losses, Demise of a Scholarship Program, Grawemeyer in Education

December 4, 2008
  • A federal district court has upheld the right of Millersville University, in Pennsylvania, to deny a diploma to a teacher education student -- days before graduation -- because of a photo of her on MySpace posing as a drunken pirate, The Washington Post reported. The student claimed that her First Amendment rights were violated, but the university argued that her actions were inconsistent with her responsibilities as a student teacher. The photograph in question and some of the legal documents are posted on the Web site The Smoking Gun.
  • A planned three-week trip to India for a group of students at Union College, in New York, turned into just 24 hours in India. The Albany Times-Union reported that the Union College group arrived last week, just as the terrorist attacks were starting in Mumbai, which was on the itinerary. After consulting with administrators and fielding calls from worried parents, the group flew back.
  • Harvard University's endowment lost 22 percent of its value -- or about $8 billion -- in the first four months of the current fiscal year, Bloomberg reported. The losses aren't surprising, given the losses of just about all major investors, and Harvard is probably secure as the wealthiest university in the United States, since no other university comes close to its endowment size.
  • A scholarship program that has helped 13,000 Philadelphia high school graduates -- awarding $24 million in scholarships since 2003 -- is ending, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city is ending support, citing its budget crisis; Rep. Chaka Fattah, who created the program, acknowledged that he had not been able to raise funds for endowment support.
  • Two sociology professors at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York are today being named winners of the 2009 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education, worth $200,000. Paul Attewell and David Lavin are being honored for their 2007 book, Passing the Torch: Does Higher Education for the Disadvantaged Pay Off Across the Generations? The book answers in the affirmative and suggests that most common measures of success, such as graduation rates, are inadequate for low-income urban populations such as those they studied. An article about their research may be found here.
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