Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Among those killed in Haiti were Georges Anglade, a professor of geography who was one of the founders of the University of Quebec at Montreal, and Stephanie Jean-Charles, a graduate student at the University of Virginia. Jean-Charles was a native of Haiti who was visiting family members. While a number of universities are reporting that they have located faculty members or students who are in Haiti and that they are safe, some institutions are still waiting for word, or for definitive word. Lynn University announced Thursday that while eight students were on their way back to the U.S., six students were missing. The university had earlier said that only three students were missing, but found that the information on three of those believed found was inaccurate.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Nelnet has subpoenaed records from the U.S. Education Department that it believes will show that the Bush administration cleared the lender's use of a loophole in federal law that allowed it to reap billions of dollars in profits to which the department later determined it was not entitled, according to the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog. Nelnet, which is based in Nebraska, was sued in federal court last fall by Jon Oberg, a former Education Department official who brought suit under the federal False Claims Act, claiming that Nelnet had defrauded the government by recycling loans for which they were guaranteed an interest rate return of 9.5 percent. As part of its defense, Higher Ed Watch reported, Nelnet subpoenaed Education Department records to try to show its officials gave it the green light to its practices.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected an appeal of a lower court's ruling rejecting a challenge by advocates for some religious high schools to the admissions standards used by the University of California. The challenge came from schools that claim they are suffering discrimination based on their religious views (many of which do not involve belief in evolution). But the university has maintained -- and the appeals court agreed -- that it was using academic judgment in appropriate ways to decide which high school courses meet entry requirements.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

State and local officials are talking about creating a new public campus -- perhaps a full-fledged college -- in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city has a community college, Temple University and many private institutions, but the goal is to have a campus of the state system of higher education. The proponents of the plan say that the private institutions and Temple are too expensive for many low-income students who want a four-year degree.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Hudderfield is investigating two students who are alleged to have created "Hitler - the Drinking Game" on Facebook, The Yorkshire Evening Post reported. The Facebook group explaining the rules (removed once the university investigation started) attracted 12,000 members. The student founders were known as "Fuhrers," and the game involved cards set in the shape of swastikas.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

In a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, three universities agreed not to buy or promote the use of Amazon's Kindle DX or other electronic readers until the devices are fully accessible to the blind. Case Western Reserve University, Pace University and Reed College, all of which were part of a splashy entree into higher education for the Kindle last spring, struck the deals after an investigation prompted by a lawsuit by the National Federation for the Blind and the American Council for the Blind against Arizona State University, another institution that planned an e-reader experiment (that lawsuit was settled last week). Under the agreements with the Justice Department, which take effect when the colleges' current Kindle pilot projects end, "the universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use."

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

This is the time of year when most elite colleges announce yet another increase in applications, but the hike at the University of Chicago -- 42 percent -- is unusually large. The Chicago Tribune reported that officials cited a range of possible reasons, from increased outreach efforts to the publicity associated with President Obama having been a faculty member.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Labor supporters in Maryland are raising questions about the fairness of a state panel that recently issued a report calling for improvements in the treatment of teaching assistants and adjuncts at the state's colleges, but that largely punted on the question of unionization. Advocates for graduate students and adjuncts are saying that the idea of collective bargaining was largely ruled out by the commission's leaders early on, and that there was never a full exploration of the subject. The report that was issued described the panel as divided on such issues.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Lois B. DeFleur will retire this summer as president of the State University of New York at Binghamton. During her 19 years leading the campus, its competitiveness in admissions has skyrocketed and its academic reputation has grown. DeFleur also encouraged the growth of international initiatives. But during the last year, Binghamton has been shaken by scandals in its men's basketball program, whose push for national prominence DeFleur had championed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard an apparel company's challenge to the National Football League's business practices -- a case that could have implications for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which filed a friend of the court brief supporting the NFL in the case. The lawsuit in question, which was brought by a company called American Needle, revolves around whether the NFL can operate as a single business entity or whether it is made of of 32 individual companies (its teams). The outcome in the case could have implications for organizations like the NCAA, which have sometimes sought exemption from federal antitrust laws both to protect themselves from antitrust lawsuits and to give them expanded power to adopt rules that limit the authority of coaches and others (see related article).

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