Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 12, 2009

The District of Columbia agency that handles financial aid requests has just sent detailed information about 2,400 aid applicants to 1,250 of those applicants, The Washington Post reported. The office sent an e-mail to 1,250 applicants and accidentally attached a spreadsheet with 2,400 applicants' names, e-mail and home addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and dates of birth. The agency has since asked all of those who received the spreadsheet to destroy it. Further, it sent an apology to the students whose information was shared, and is offering one-year subscriptions to a credit-monitoring service so that they can try to prevent identity theft.

May 12, 2009

New Jersey has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a special Rutgers University appropriation that supported a small nonprofit group to teach school children how to grow food in space, The Star-Ledger reported. Given that space agriculture hasn't exactly taken off, the revelation was sure to be controversial, but the newspaper found that this appropriation featured a peculiat twist on the concept of the no-show job. Much of the money has been going to pay the salaries of two people -- one of whom has been dead for two years. The newspaper first reported the unusual appropriation Monday morning, and by the end of the day legislators were vowing to kill the program.

May 12, 2009

The volleyball coach at Quinnipiac University testified Monday that the institution has distorted athletic rosters as a means of hiding violations of gender equity laws, The Hartford Courant reported. According to the testimony, in a case in which team members are trying to prevent the university from eliminating the volleyball team, the university drops some male athletes from team rosters just before the season starts, reports on the total numbers of male and female athletes while those men are not counted, and then adds the men back. The university's athletic director declined to comment on the allegations.

May 12, 2009

Big-time college football programs now have a pool from which to select minority coaches, according to a study published in USA Today. The study found that about 15 percent of offensive and defensive coordinators in the football bowl division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are from minority groups. Those coordinator positions are traditionally the path to head coaching positions. In 2002, the last time USA Today did the survey, only 5 percent of coordinators were from minority groups. Despite that significant growth in the pool, only 7.5 percent of head coaches are from minority groups, the newspaper found, up from 3.5 percent in 2002.

May 12, 2009

With anti-abortion groups continuing to criticize the University of Notre Dame's decision to have President Obama speak at graduation ceremonies, there was one commencement address the critics might like. The commencement speaker at Ave Maria University, which prides itself on strict adherence to Roman Catholic teachings, devoted time to denouncing Obama and Notre Dame. The Naples Daily News reported that the speaker at Ave Maria -- Thomas Hilgers, an obstetrician from Nebraska -- called Obama "viciously pro-abortion" and compared having him to the the invitation made to the speaker Hilgers heard at his own graduation, whom he described as a priest who turned out to be "a denier of the Resurrection, pro-homosexuality and pro-contraception." The anti-Obama talk on graduation day prompted one person to write to The Sun-Sentinel to ask: "Uh, what happened to 'love thy neighbor.' "

May 11, 2009

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents on Friday approved a plan to raise tuition at the flagship campus at Madison by substantial amounts, but to designate those funds for spending -- such as additional faculty slots -- that directly improves undergraduate education. Biddy Martin, the new chancellor at Madison, championed the plan -- and won student support for it -- by noting the many ways that inadequate state funding has hurt the student experience. For example, she noted that the university has lost faculty slots, and that students are turned away regularly from key courses they need for their majors. Students from families with incomes up to $80,000 will be exempt from the tuition surcharge. Following the board vote, Martin issued a statement that said in part: "We pledge to deliver value. We'll do this by providing more faculty and instructional support in high-demand areas, classroom innovations and better student-support services."

May 11, 2009

Officials at Shasta College places white poster board over a student's painting in an art exhibit, allowing those at the exhibit to lift up the board to view the painting, but hiding it from the view of those who don't take that step, The Redding Record Searchlight reported. The painting at the California college shows two young children, in the style of the Dick and Jane books, greeting a man in a bathrobe, which is open, exposing him in an aroused state. The student who painted the work, "See It Go," said that it was a response to sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

May 11, 2009

The National Institutes of Health on Friday said it was considering issuing new regulations to govern financial and other conflicts of interest in biomedical research and invited interested parties to weigh in on a set of possible changes. In an advance notice of proposed rule making published in Friday's Federal Register, the NIH and its parent agencies, the Public Health Service and the Department of Health and Human Services, posed a set of questions that have emerged in recent years as biomedical researchers' ties to industry have come under increasing scrutiny. Should researchers have to report more information about their sources of income to the institutions, even if they do not believe it is germane to their work? Should the minimum threshold of payment that is perceived to be a financial conflict of interest be raised? Should research institutions be required to establish committees to review their employees' financial disclosures?

May 11, 2009

Craig Arnold, an award-winning poet and professor at the University of Wyoming, is believed to have died on a Japanese island. Arnold, who was fascinated by and wrote about volcanoes, set off on a hike on April 27 and never returned, prompting extensive search efforts. Poets and English professors at many campuses have been following the situation, and hoping for his safe return. A search group reported that he appeared to have fallen from a cliff from which there would have been no possibility of survival.

May 11, 2009

George Zinkhan, a University of Georgia professor wanted in the murders of his wife and two others in a shooting that stunned Athens, Georgia, was found dead on Saturday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Zinkhan apparently dug his own grave in a wooded area, covered himself up, and then fired a single bullet into his own head. University of Georgia statements on the incident may be found here.

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