A research report released last month by two George Washington University professors argued for weakening the role of the Federal Housing Administration with regard to insuring mortgages, and didn't disclose that it was partially funded by Genworth Financial Inc., a major player in providing private mortgage insurance, American Banker reported. The authors of the paper are Robert Van Order, chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, and Anthony Yezer, director of the university's Center for Economic Research. Yezer told American Banker that he didn't realize he had failed to note the sponsorship, but he didn't see it as a major issue. "I am not getting anything out of it, and Bob Van Order is not getting anything," he said. "They are using up our time, so they make a contribution to the university. The small amount that is involved is trivial compared to my billing rate [as a consultant] if I was doing this ordinarily."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Japanese universities are reporting, to their relief, that most of the international students who left the country after the tsunami and associated nuclear worries, and whose programs haven't ended, are returning, The Japan Times reported. The universities have been pushing -- with help from the Japanese government -- for students to return. Visa procedures were simplified for those who didn't realize they would need a re-entry permit. And the Japanese government is paying for some return airfares for those who had to evacuate certain areas.
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a freestanding institution in Michigan, on Thursday sued four anonymous individuals who have posted critical comments online and lawyers who have started an investigation into Cooley's job placement rates. The suits charge defamation, interference with business interests and other violations of the law. "With ethics and professionalism at the core of our law school's values, we cannot – and will not – sit back and let anyone circulate defamatory statements about Cooley or the choices our students and alumni made to seek their law degree here," said Brent Danielson, chair of Cooley's board, in an announcement of the suits.
One of the anonymous bloggers being sued runs a site called Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam "to bring truth and awareness to the students getting suckered in by this despicable excuse for a law school." The blog questions Cooley's academic quality and charges that very few of its graduates find jobs. (Cooley says 76 percent of graduates find jobs, and that the figure was higher before the economic downturn.)
The law firm being sued is Kurzon Strauss, in New York, which ran a notice on the J.D. Underground website stating (according to the complaint) that it was "conducting a broad, wide-ranging investigation of a number of law schools for blatantly manipulating their post-graduate employment data and salary information" to take advantage of "the blithe ignorance of naive, clueless 22-year olds who have absolutely no idea what a terrible investment obtaining a J.D. is." The notice specifically requests information about Thomas Cooley and, according to the law school, suggested that it was "perhaps one of the worst offenders" in manipulating the data. Currently the J.D. Underground website features a posting with some similar language (but not nearly as strong) to that cited in the complaint, and another posting from the law firm retracting some of its earlier statements, suggesting that "certain allegations ... may have been couched as fact."
David Anziska, a partner in the firm, said in an interview Thursday that "this is one of the most ridiculous lawsuits filed in recent memory." Anziska said that the firm will not only defend itself, but plans to sue Cooley for its suit. He declined to comment on the status of the investigation into job-placement rates of Cooley and other law schools, but said that the notice prompted more than 50 responses.
The National Science Foundation has published new reports on how federal research dollars flowed to colleges and universities in 2009 and the status of graduate students and postdoctoral scientists in research fields in 2008. The first report contains a wide array of data on the institutions that received the most federal research funds over all and by discipline, for instance; the latter includes statistics on the future work force in academic science by field, gender, institution type and other indicators.
The University of Oxford says that there is no need -- in light of the scandal over the conduct of some of the publications owned by Rupert Murdoch -- to rethink endowed chairs and programs in his name or that of News International, Times Higher Education reported. Murdoch made a significant gift (exact size unknown) to Oxford, his alma mater, in 1990. The gift funds the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication, three lectureships, a News International Fund that makes various grants, and a News International visiting professor of media, and a program to provide internships to students interested in journalism. An Oxford spokesman told Times Higher Education: "Our full processes of scrutiny were carried out at the time of the endowment." Valentine Cunningham, professor of English language and literature at Oxford, said there was "only residual unhappiness" among academics over News International ties. "It is thought that we have turned bad money into good," Cunningham said.
Jenna K. Templeton, director of online academic and support services at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has been chosen as assistant dean of the College for Graduate Studies and of the College for Continuing and Professional Studies at Chatham University.
John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix, has sold more than $59 million in stock in the company, whose value has increased since the Obama administration released a version of regulations of the for-profit higher education industry that was much weaker than earlier versions, The Huffington Post reported. The website also reported that other major owners of for-profit higher education stocks have sold off significant holdings in recent weeks. Donald Graham, for instance, sold $12.5 million in Washington Post Company stock. (The company owns Kaplan University.)
When the University of Tennessee at Knoxville advertised for a new baseball coach, the listings said that the institution preferred candidates with a bachelor's degree. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the coach hired, Dave Serrano, has a degree, but from an unaccredited institution viewed by many as a diploma mill. "Obviously, sometimes you make choices in life and there's scrutiny out there," Serrano said. "I would prefer to be judged by the people and the players over all my years of my coaching career, what I've done for people as a coach and a mentor and how I've led them in life and being successful. People could judge my education, but I know when it comes to coaching and leading young men, I feel like I have a doctorate in that area." The News Sentinel noted that the university is currently searching for three assistant coaches, and that all three require a bachelor's degree and prefer a master's.
Blackboard, which last year announced a partnership to ease the use of McGraw-Hill content in courses using Blackboard's learning management system, is expanding the idea to other major publishers and their services. The company Wednesday announced partnerships with Pearson (for its MyLab and Mastering programs, which together are projected to have 9 million student registrations this year), as well as with Wiley, Macmillan and Cengage for various content offerings.