Quick Takes: Career Ed Shuts 9 Colleges, Washington Post Buys 8.1% of Corinthian, House Concerns on Loans, Boulder Faculty Reject Presidential Choice, Charges of Cronyism at Monroe CC, Skepticism of Nanotechnology, Donor's Clarification, Royal Criticism
Submitted by Scott Jaschik on February 18, 2008 - 4:00am
Career Education Inc. on Friday announced plans to shut nine colleges, seven of them part of the Katherine Gibbs chain, following a "teach out" period to help current students. A statement from Career Education said that the move was part of a previously announced strategy to focus on key areas, and that attempts to sell the colleges didn't succeed. Supporters of New Hampshire's McIntosh College, one of the institutions being shut down, are angry and frustrated, Seacoast Online reported.
Twenty-one members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written to the secretaries of treasury and education to request action to deal with the credit crunch that is resulting in a tightening on the availability of student loans (though almost entirely private, or alternative, student loans so far). The letter calls on the Bush administration to work "without delay," before the situation "decreases access to higher education."
The Faculty Assembly at the University of Colorado at Boulder has overwhelmingly voted against the sole nominee for president of the university system, Bruce Benson, The Rocky Mountain News reported. Faculty members and others have expressed concern that Benson -- an energy executive -- does not have an academic background, has been involved in numerous partisan battles in the state, and has a record that leaves professors wondering if he understands or supports tenure. Benson and his defenders have noted his fund raising skills and said he will rely on others for academic decisions. Colorado's Board of Regents is expected to vote on the appointment this week.
The faculty union leader at Monroe Community College, in New York, has raised concerns that a recent change in leadership on the Board of Trustees could open the way for a patronage appointment as the ongoing search for a new college president draws to a close. “There’s the possibility of patronage here; there’s the possibility of bringing the college closer into county control, county government control,” said Charles Clarke, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies and president of the Faculty Association. A new board president was suddenly elected this month following what a local open government advocate described as an improper executive session, as the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester reported. Monroe County has of late been besieged by allegations of political patronage, surrounding both the recent appointment of the local Republican leadership’s choice for public defender and allegations that the Monroe County Water Authority functions, again as the Democrat and Chronicle has reported, as “a patronage mill for Republicans.” The new board president, Richard Guon, serves as treasurer of the Water Authority Board. He did not return a message, placed through a college spokeswoman, requesting comment.
While nanotechnology is among the hottest areas of scientific research and many universities are expanding their nano programs, the American public is deeply skeptical, with only 29.5 percent in a recent poll believing that the work is morally acceptable. That result was presented Friday, by Dietram Scheufele, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Scheufele found much higher percentages of people in Britain (54.1 percent), France (72.1 percent) and Germany (62.7 percent) believe that the research is moral, and sees Americans' religious beliefs explaining the difference.
Million-dollars gifts are supposed to generate good will, but Patricia Cornwell, a best-selling mystery novelist, is doing damage control because of an article about her donation to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is part of the City University of New York. Cornell donated $1 million for a new academy to teach strategies for investigating crime scenes. The Associated Press reported that her gift was motivated by frustration with police investigations. "I've seen cops walk through blood. I've seen them leave their own fingerprints on a window," the AP quoted Cornwell as saying. "I've seen bloody clothing put in a plastic bag, instead of a paper bag, so it decomposes." Cornwell, in newspaper ads and on her Web site, is disputing the quotation and all it implies. She said that she was "dismayed by recent news accounts concerning my substantial grant to John Jay College of Criminal Justice. What has been publicized certainly does not accurately reflect my deep respect and admiration for these hardworking law enforcement professionals. Not only do these widely publicized comments falsely depict my motive for investing in a crime scene academy, but these misleading reports are hurtful to police and pain me deeply."
Prince Charles, known for his periodic criticism of modern architecture, has found a campus target. The BBC reported that he called Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, on the Colchester campus of the University of Essex, a structure that "looks like a dustbin." University officials noted that the building has been hailed by those who appreciate modern architecture. More photos and details about the building may be found here.