Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 31, 2009

Fairfield University, in Connecticut, announced Monday that is will no longer require that all undergraduate applicants submit SAT scores. Applicants will now have the option of submitting an essay instead of the the test scores. The university announcement said that its internal research and national studies suggested that high school grades provided the best indicator of a student's abilities. Karen Pellegrino, director of undergraduate admission, said the policy change was "in keeping with Fairfield's mission that values the whole person in both the selection and education of our students."

March 31, 2009

Students from ethnic groups in the Middle East and surrounding regions are pushing the University of California to add a "Middle Eastern" box on admissions forms, saying that they do not feel comfortable with either "white" or "other," the Los Angeles Times reported. At the University of California at Los Angeles, groups representing Arab, Iranian, Afghan and Armenian students are pushing for the change. They are basing their campaign on the success of Asian American groups in getting the university -- and many other colleges -- to consider different Asian subgroups in admissions.

March 31, 2009

Following the decision by Boston College to bar a planned speech Monday by William Ayers, students instead devoted the day to talking about academic freedom. College officials said that they called off the Ayers event because of the sensitivity in Boston to a 1970 police killing that, while not viewed by experts as linked to the Weather Underground, is associated with the Weather Underground by some residents and by many conservatives on talk radio. Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor, was once a leader of the Weather Underground. The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was among the groups that on Monday condemned the college's actions. A letter from the ACLU charged that the college has "abandoned its own mission statement, which expresses a firm commitment to academic freedom."

March 30, 2009

Five Hofstra University students have been arrested -- and have denied all charges -- in what police say was an unusual robbery attempt. Newsday reported that four students attempted to rob and threaten a fifth student. According to authorities, the four students were attempting to punish the fifth for selling them cocaine that was of inferior quality.

March 30, 2009

Harvard University is taking steps to encourage more students to major in subjects that are central to knowledge, even if they aren't seen as the most practical, The Boston Globe reported. Among the changes: Pushing back the deadline for declaring a major (so students have more time to sample disciplines) and creating more small seminars in these fields, which will be taught by senior professors.

March 30, 2009

The Central Intelligence Agency has long recruited new college graduates as employees -- and those efforts have sometimes been controversial. But the agency is having success in attracting interest on campus, the Los Angeles Times reported, by working with marketing courses at universities, which take on the project of designing materials to publicize the CIA's recruiting efforts. Beyond the marketing skills of the students, the CIA has another edge today, the students in the course told the Times. With jobs for new graduates in short supply, the CIA is looking more attractive as an employer.

March 30, 2009

As Congress prepares to take up their 2010 budget blueprints, supporters and critics of President Obama's proposal to eliminate the Family Federal Education Loan program are ramping up their arguments for and against the plan. The Consumer Bankers Association has attracted more than 4,000 college financial aid administrators, parents and loan industry officials as signers of a petition asking lawmakers to sustain the competition between the lender-based guaranteed loan and the competing direct loan programs. The heads of more than a dozen state associations of financial aid administrators also have written letters opposing the plan. The National Direct Student Loan Coalition, meanwhile, sent their own letter to members of Congress arguing why the president's plan deserves their support, focusing on the fact that it will allow lawmakers to use $94 billion in projected savings from the changes to help increase grant and other funds for students.

March 30, 2009

Yet more evidence has emerged of the impact of pharmaceutical industry support for medical education. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the differences between medical continuing education offered online by the University of Wisconsin for doctors to fulfill their continuing education obligations. The courses that receive financial support from the drug companies are free, and appear to suggest courses of action for patients that would involve the drug companies' products. The courses that don't receive financial support require students to pay a fee.

March 30, 2009

Valparaiso University, in Indiana, has removed a lesbian student from a seat on student government that is designated for minority students, Chicago Public Radio reported. The student said that it was appropriate for her to run for the position, since gay and lesbian students are in the minority, but the university maintains that the position is intended only for students in racial and ethnic minority groups.

March 30, 2009

Flooding of the Red River has led several colleges to close for most or all of the coming week. The closures are both to ensure safety and to permit many students and faculty members to help with sandbagging and other efforts to minimize flood damage. Among institutions affected: Concordia College, Minnesota State University at Moorhead, North Dakota State University and the University of Mary.

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