Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The White House Summit on Community Colleges is scheduled for Oct. 5. President Obama asked Jill Biden, a community college professor who is the wife of the vice president, to convene the event “to provide an opportunity for community college leaders, students, education experts, business leaders and others to share innovative ways to educate our way to a better economy.” More details about the summit are expected in the coming weeks. A short video posted by the White House Wednesday morning features Biden, students and alumni talking about the value of community colleges and their importance in American society. The White House is also inviting community college students and others to submit their own videos or online comments about community colleges.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that many medical students suffering from depression are afraid to seek help because of the stigma associated with treatment. The research notes that the finding is a serious one because medical students are more likely than those in the general population to experience depression.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The DREAM Act, which has progressed through Congress in starts and stops for close to a decade, again edged closer to a vote Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to offer it as an amendment to a defense spending bill next week. “I think it is really important that we move forward on this legislation,” he told reporters. Though “I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform," he said it might be possible to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a path to permanent residency for college students or members of the U.S. military who have been in the country illegally for at least five years since before age 16. Reid said Monday that he also planned to attach a motion to repeal the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian members of the military to the appropriations bill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Reid made the defense spending bill "needlessly controversial" by introducing those issues into the bill. Reid said he had not talked to the White House about pushing ahead on the DREAM Act as part of the defense appropriations bill and did not know if he had the votes for it to pass.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Georgetown University on Tuesday announced its largest gift: $87 million to support medical research. The gift originated with a $1.2 million charitable trust created by the will of the late Harry J. Toulmin in 1965. His widow, Virginia Toulmin, managed the trust for 45 years and led it to its present value.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Gay students and faculty members, in a national survey by Campus Pride, were much more likely than their straight counterparts to report experiencing harassment -- 23 percent to 12 percent. The most common form of harassment reported was to be the target of derogatory remarks, followed by being stared at or singled out as "the resident authority" on issues related to sexual identity and orientation. The survey found particularly high rates of harassment reported by transgender people in academe and people who do not conform to traditional gender identities.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The Texas Board of Education, whose textbook rules are influential and sometimes controversial, is getting back into the culture wars and is going to consider whether school textbooks have become (as its conservative members appear to believe) pro-Islamic and anti-Christian, The Dallas Morning News reported. A draft of a resolution prepared for the board states that "diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," and suggests that too much attention is paid to Christian attacks on Muslims during the Crusades (ignoring attacks by Muslims on Christians), "implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant, but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

States are continuing to develop their education data systems, and to link multiple systems when they have them, the State Higher Education Executive Officers said in a new report. The survey, which found that 45 states have at least one student unit record and 29 states have between two and five systems, updates a 2007 study that the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems produced for the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Columbia University researchers have found that 25 out of 32 highly paid consultants to medical device companies failed to reveal, or their journals failed to reveal, those payments in subsequent journal articles, The New York Times reported. The consultants involved were each paid at least $1 million each. “We found a massive, dramatic system failure,” said David J. Rothman, one of the Columbia scholars who did the study.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Martin Samuels, a Harvard University medical professor, has started a new company that will provide continuing medical education that is different from many of the existing programs in that it will not be subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry, The Boston Globe reported. The influence of drug company money on programs in which medical professionals learn about new treatments has been widely criticized, but some have noted the lack of programs that are totally free of the pharmaceutical cash. The new business will get its revenue directly from universities, hospitals and other organizations that want to provide continuing medical education -- and will not take any money from the drug industry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Dismas Charities, which provides assistance to criminals seeking to re-enter society, has responded to an outpouring of criticism by giving up luxury suites it was renting at University of Louisville basketball and football games, at a total cost of $137,000 annually, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While charity officials initially defended the rentals, a statement Monday said that the organization "heard the concerns of the community." The university agreed to release the charity from its contracts for the suites.

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