Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 8, 2012

Pasadena City College announced Thursday that it has placed two senior officials -- Richard Van Pelt, vice president of administrative services, and Alfred Hutchings, facilities services supervisor -- on administrative leave, pending the results of a bribery-related investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, The Los Angeles Times reported. The D.A.'s office executed search warrants at the officials' homes and offices Thursday, in an investigations of alleged solicitation of bribes involving a contract from the college. No charges have been filed and the officials could not be reached for comment.

 

June 7, 2012

Some academics and consumer advocates are worried about a shift in support for agriculture research, the Associated Press reported. Citing data from a recent report from Food and Water Watch, the AP noted that nearly 25 percent of the funds for agriculture research now come from corporations, foundations and trade groups, an all-time high. Meanwhile, federal support has dropped to 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.

 

June 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how fluorine can be used to create useful new pharmaceuticals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 7, 2012

Student borrowers with federal direct loans who want to enroll in the government's income-based repayment program will be able to apply directly through the Education Department rather than through loan servicers, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. The department will allow borrowers to import Internal Revenue Service income data directly to their application. It will require servicers to inform borrowers about income-based repayment before they begin repaying their loans. The program caps payments at 15 percent (soon to be 10 percent) of a borrower's monthly discretionary income.

The department has struggled with servicing problems in the past year, including glitches with enrolling borrowers in income-based repayment. Administration officials said the streamlined application process should be in place by September.

June 7, 2012

Chapman University has agreed to pay $175,000 to a former film professor who says she was denied tenure because she is a woman, The Orange County Register reported. A faculty grievance committee backed her claim, but another university panel did not. At that point, she took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which agreed she had a case. Then, Chapman settled, saying that it did nothing wrong but wanted to resolve the matter.

 

June 7, 2012

The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has approved a statement on the importance of language learning to U.S. policy. The statement calls the learning of foreign languages "vital" and goes on to explain why. "We believe this view should be uncontroversial; anyone interested in the long-term vitality and security of the United States should recognize that it will be detrimental for Americans to remain overwhelmingly monolingual and ill informed about other parts of this increasingly interdependent world," the statement says. "We are therefore deeply alarmed by the drastic and disproportionate budget cuts in recent years to programs that fund advanced language study. We believe that advanced language study is important for the same reasons many policy makers, advisers, and elected officials do: Americans need to be literate about the languages and cultures of the United States’ major trading partners, and Americans need to be literate in the so-called strategic languages important to national security."

 

June 7, 2012

The Iowa Board of Regents voted Thursday to create a committee to find ways to phase out the use of tuition revenue for student aid, The Des Moines Register reported. Colleges and universities have for generations used some tuition revenue from those who can afford it to provide scholarships to those who would be otherwise unable to enroll for financial reasons. But this year, Republicans in several states have challenged the practice, saying it creates a burden on the middle class. In Iowa, about 20 percent of tuition goes to such uses, and it is unclear how the state universities would replace those funds to preserve financial aid, which is a goal the board members said they have.

 

 

June 6, 2012

Barbara Walters apologized Tuesday when e-mail records revealed her efforts to help Sheherazad Jaafari, an aide to Syria's president, get a job or get into Columbia University's journalism school, The Telegraph reported. Walters got to know Jaafari when the journalist was pushing to interview Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whose government has been holding on to power in the country with brutal crackdowns on protesters. The e-mail records indicate that Walters approached a Columbia professor, praising Jaafari, and that he then offered to help.

Richard Wald, the professor, said he would try to get the admissions office "to give her special attention." Wald told the Telegraph that Jaafari had not applied so he didn't do anything on her behalf, but he said that "I would ask the admissions office to give special attention to anyone with a recommendation from Ms. Walters or anyone else in journalism." Walters issued a statement in which she said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."

 

June 6, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, John Parmelee of the University of North Florida reveals how Twitter is reshaping the relationship between politicians and their constituents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 6, 2012

A North Carolina appeals court has ruled that private colleges' police records are not public records. The ruling came in a case brought by a one-time student journalist who filed an open records request seeking records from Elon College about a student's arrest. The appeals court said that the private institution was not covered by the open records requirements. The Student Press Law Center criticized the ruling. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the association, said, "Getting more information about crime into the public’s hands does nothing but good. There’s no good argument why a crime that takes place in the quad of a private college should be kept secret, while the same crime would be public if it took place in the middle of a Pizza Hut."

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