Researchers who used a remote control helicopter to collect samples of whale snot and demonstrated that, "on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes" were among those honored last night with Ig Nobel Prizes, the annual recognition granted to scholarly work that "first makes people laugh, then makes them think." The awards, made by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, come out just before -- but hardly presage -- the Nobel prizes. In one other award -- and this was almost too easy, wasn't it? -- the group honored BP (and three researchers who wrote a paper on the subject) "for disproving the old myth that oil and water don't mix." A full list of the winners is available here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A state budget board in South Carolina on Wednesday imposed a partial moratorium on higher education building projects, in a sign of its members' displeasure with big increases in the institutions' tuitions, The State reported. The board's action comes at a time of turmoil in the political climate for higher education in the state, with the departing governor, Mark Sanford, using a purported summit on higher education Tuesday to lash out at colleges for their prices and perceived inefficiency, following deep cuts in state spending over the last two years that have forced public colleges to slash their own budgets. The moratorium restricts the initiation of new development projects at four-year colleges that raise tuition by 7 percent or more this year and at two-year colleges that boost tuition by at least 6.3 percent, although several categories of projects (those financed with private funds, those with safety implications, etc.) are exempted.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have required foundations and other auxiliary groups tied to California's two main university systems to open their lists of donors to the public, Central Valley Business Times reported. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Leland Yee, a frequent critic of university governance and spending practices, emerged in the wake of controversy over the amount that a foundation at California State University at Stanislaus had paid to bring Sarah Palin to campus, and its refusal to reveal the total. Lawmakers approved the bill, saying it was needed to ensure accountability at California State and the University of California, but Schwarzenegger said the measure, as crafted, would not sufficiently protect the privacy of individual donors.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed legislation that will ensure admission to the California State University System for students who earn a newly established transfer degree from one of the state's community colleges. SB 1440 requires each community college district to create an associate degree for transfer and guarantees admission to Cal State for any student who earns one of those degrees. A second measure, AB 2302, directs the University of California to develop a better transfer pathway to its campuses.
The Southern Regional Education Board has issued a series of practical and policy recommendations designed to help 16 Southern states do their part toward the Obama administration's college completion goal. The report, "No Time to Waste," calls on each state to ensure that 60 percent of its 25- to 64-year-olds have a postsecondary credential by 2025, and offers specific proposals for state and institutional leaders to do so.
The federal government may have no need for a website that would allow students to compare the rates and terms of education loans, given changes in the market and the difficulties inherent in creating such a tool, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Wednesday.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association did not violate federal antitrust law or interfere with the business of a lacrosse stick manufacturer by changing its rules governing equipment in the sport, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. Warrior Sports, which makes sporting equipment, had argued that the NCAA's decision to change the allowable dimensions of lacrosse sticks had damaged the company's business, but the court ruled that the rule change affected all companies similarly and did not in any way single out Warrior.
The president of Western Governors University is one of three recipients of the 2010 McGraw Prize in Education, which this year sought to recognize contributions designed to bring successful educational reforms to scale. The prizes, worth $25,000 each and awarded annually to people who've made a major contribution to improving education in the United States, are awarded by McGraw-Hill. This year's recipient in postsecondary education is Robert W. Mendenhall, president of Western Governors, for expanding the nonprofit, online institution to 20,000 students and building support for its model of competency-based education and training. The other recipients were Larry Rosenstock of High Tech High, in secondary education, and Christopher Cerf, creator of the children's television show "Between the Lions," in pre-kindergarten and elementary education.
A student wearing a suit and bearing a rifle began shooting Tuesday in a plaza at the University of Texas at Austin, firing several times into the air but hitting no one, before entering a campus library and killing himself, the Associated Press reported. Medical examiners identified the student as a sophomore mathematics major at the university, UT officials said.
A new white paper suggests better ways to promote collaboration in higher education between European and African institutions. The paper, with sections directed at governments, universities and development agencies, reflects work by the European University Association, the Association of African Universities, the Flemish Inter-University Council for Development Cooperation, the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions, the European Access Network and the European Students’ Union.