Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 3:00am

The sudden closure this week of Ascension College, a for-profit college in Louisiana, has been followed by the arrest of a financial aid officer who was charged with felony theft of $7,600 in tuition payments by students, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. The college closed after the U.S. Education Department revoked its eligibility for loan programs, citing the institution's "inability to meet multiple aspects of the standards of financial responsibility.” Officials of the college said that they couldn't operate without the loan funds, and that many student cash payments were missing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 3:00am

A cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison resigned this spring after campus administrators began investigating alleged conflicts of interest involving clinical trials he led and a consulting arrangement he had with a manufacturer of cancer treatment devices, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The newspaper based its special report on the controversy involving Minesh Mehta on a series of open records requests, among other things.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 3:00am

An arbitrator has ordered the University of Florida to rehire David Therriault, an assistant professor of educational psychology who was laid off last year, The Gainesville Sun reported. Under the ruling, he is assured a job for a year and a chance to earn tenure. While Florida has the right to impose layoffs, the arbitrator found that the university did not meet its obligations under a contract with the faculty union to attempt to find Therriault another position when his was eliminated.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:00am

An article in Business Week looks at why some universities (a small minority in fact) select CEOs, not academics, to lead business schools. "That kind of narrow and bounded perception of what deans do has changed really dramatically, so now in many places there is really a heightened expectation that the dean should be the public face of the school," Dan King, executive director of the American Association of University Administrators, told the magazine. "Business schools, in particular, want to present a prestigious public face. One way of presenting that image is showing they can recruit a leader who has been a successful executive in business and industry."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Leaders of a United Auto Workers unit representing 6,000 doctoral researchers at the University of California said Monday that they had reached a tentative agreement with administrators over what would be the union's first-ever contract. A spokesman for the union said he could provide no details on the deal until postdocs ratified the agreement, probably next week. But he said it would improve the researchers' standing on a range of issues, from pay to benefits to working conditions. The UAW has spent years trying to unionize postdocs at UC.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Research that will be published today in the journal Health Affairs suggests that graduates of foreign medical schools perform as well as graduates of medical schools in the United States, as measured by mortality rates for patients with a common set of conditions. The findings could be significant given a growing debate over the quality of medical care provided by doctors who were educated outside the United States -- a group that makes up nearly 25 percent of physicians in the United States. At the same time, however, the study found that the performance of foreign medical graduates who were U.S. citizens lagged the performance of other graduates, the kind of figure that could add to scrutiny of colleges outside the United States that serve many American students.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Georgia wins top honors this year as a "party school," according to The Princeton Review's annual rankings. While the college guide in which the rankings appear has many categories (and the student surveys that go into the methodology don't reflect cutting edge social science standards, to put it mildly), everyone pays attention to the party school category. A spokesman for the university issued a statement: “UGA has been on the Party School list for a while, but it’s one we prefer not to lead.... The University of Georgia takes student alcohol education programs very seriously and will continue to do so."

Another institution that makes the list went on the offensive. Bruce Benson, president of the University of Colorado, sent local reporters a memo questioning whether enough students are sampled to make valid judgments. "This blatant lack of transparency, combined with questionable research methods, causes us to question the veracity of the survey," Benson wrote in the letter to The Daily Camera. "Frankly, we would not allow our faculty researchers or our students to be so secretive in their research methods." Colorado's flagship campus at Boulder is #16 for party schools, but also earned #6 in the "reefer madness" category for pot use and #13 for hard liquor. Benson's defense may have backfired. The alt-weekly Denver Westword awarded Benson its "Schmuck of the Week" award for trying to trash the rankings. Wrote the newspaper: "Sorry, Bruce, but CU is one of the country's top party schools, and everyone knows it. That orgasm of cannabis consumption in Boulder every 4/20 isn't exactly a secret. Now, you may not be proud of that, but by bitching about how unfair the school's slotting is before we even know the actual number, you seem like you're protesting too much, not to mention giving the CU faithful several extra days to anticipate a list they probably had forgotten was even coming."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Wagner College has ended a requirement that all applicants submit either SAT or ACT scores. “We believe that the best predictor of a student’s potential to succeed at Wagner is the student’s high school transcript,” said Angelo Araimo, vice president for enrollment and planning, in a statement.

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department has told state officials in California that the federal government will terminate its agreement with EdFund, the state agency that guarantees federal student aid, and replace it with another entity, the Sacramento Bee reported. The department's decision could threaten Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to sell the troubled agency, which has been in turmoil for years.

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has revived concerns at the University of California at Berkeley over the institution's ties to BP. The oil company gave the university $500 million for energy research in 2007 -- and many faculty members questioned the deal at the time. On Friday, a rally at Berkeley drew attention to the deal in light of recent events, with those at the rally saying it was time to revisit the university's ties to BP, the Associated Press reported. But Berkeley officials said that now isn't the time to walk away from the research. "The horrible events in the Gulf should only strengthen our commitment to find alternatives to fossil fuels," Graham Fleming, vice chancellor of research, told the AP. "Why would anyone's interest be served by stopping this research?"

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