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Monday, August 31, 2015 - 4:21am

Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a prominent Indian scholar whose criticism of the worship of idols offended many religious groups, was shot and killed Sunday, The New York Times reported. Kalburgi taught at and was the former vice chancellor of Kannada University.

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Yale University is officially starting a "conversation" on what to do about Calhoun College, one of the university's residential college, which is named for John C. Calhoun (Yale 1804, at right), whose career was known for his defense of slavery and racist ideologies. Yale has in the past rebuffed calls to rename the college, but Yale President Peter Salovey, in his address to new students on Saturday, noted that the massacre in a Charleston church this summer has prompted renewed attention to honors for heroes of the Confederacy and racist views.

"Calhoun mounted the most powerful and influential defense of his day for slavery. In fact, he believed that the highest forms of civilization depend on involuntary servitude. Not only that, but he also believed that the races he thought to be inferior, black people in particular, ought to be subjected to it for the sake of their own best interests," Salovey said.

But in calling for a conversation and not simply moving to change the name of Calhoun College, Salovey said that there were other issues at play. "We should consider the dangers, for instance, of judging past figures according to views and standards that evolved and developed after their own times," he said. "We also must consider what it means to attempt to efface or distance ourselves from our own history. Some have sought to control our thinking about the past by selectively wiping away its traces, eliminating or softening its inconvenient or unflattering or dangerous elements. Are we perhaps better off retaining before us the name and the evocative, sometimes brooding presence of Yale graduate John C. Calhoun? He may serve to remind us not only of Yale’s complicated and occasionally painful associations with the past, but to enforce in us a sense of our own moral fallibility as we ourselves face questions about the future."

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 3:00am

New research from the University of Chicago has found that many black and Latino college freshmen feel significant financial strain. Black and Latino freshmen at five universities in Illinois were surveyed three times during the year. At each point, about 35 percent reported having difficulty paying their bills, being upset that they did not have enough money and worrying that they would not be able to afford to complete their degree. The sample was of students who were well prepared for college. The results are the first part of a major effort to track these students and to look for approaches to improving minority student retention. More information on the research may be found here.

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education should largely keep its current model for student loan servicing, but officials should set higher and more consistent standards for the companies they hire to do that work, according to recommendations issued Friday by an interagency task force.

The recommendations will inform the Education Department’s new contract with loan servicers that it expects to sign at some point next year.

The task force, convened by the Obama administration earlier this year as part of a push to improve federal student loan servicing, suggested in a report that the Education Department continue to have multiple contractors who compete among themselves for new loan servicing business from the government. The government should pay contractors extra to help borrowers deemed at a high risk of default and it should standardize some of their activities as they compete among themselves for new accounts, the report says. For example, all contractors should be required to provide borrowers with information about income-based repayment programs.

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 4:24am

Franklin Pierce University announced last week that it is ending a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. A statement from Andrew H. Card Jr., the president, said, “We are more concerned with who you are as a person. We believe in making higher education accessible to any student who has the desire to work hard and learn. By becoming test optional, Franklin Pierce has removed a barrier to education that is not indicative of college success.”

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Baton Rouge Community College is being investigated by the National Center for Construction Education and Research, an accrediting agency, for allegedly giving students trade credentials despite their having failed tests or not completed activities, according to a report from the local ABC affiliate.

The college had received a multimillion-dollar Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training federal grant, which allowed at least 400 students to earn the credentials in fields like welding and pipe fitting. Some students have claimed that they "sailed through" the college's courses, but didn't complete all the work.

Monday, August 31, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Chris Ferguson, a psychologist at Stetson University, discusses his research on whether violent video games lead to real-life violence. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 11:44am

A California community college system-convened task force has decided that the state's 113 two-year colleges should seek to be overseen by a new regional accrediting body.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is one of seven regional accreditors and the only one to specialize in two-year colleges. For years the commission has feuded with supporters of City College of San Francisco over that institution's accreditation status. City College is one of many California community colleges the accreditor has sanctioned in recent years, which periodically has led to tension between ACCJC and the community college system's leadership.

California's community colleges also this year began offering a limited number of four-year degrees. That change and the dispute over sanctions led the office of the two-year system's chancellor, Brice Harris, to create a committee to review the current state of accreditation for the colleges. The system released the report Friday.

"The task force concluded that the structure of accreditation in this region no longer meets the current and anticipated needs of the California Community Colleges. Furthermore, the task force concluded that several past attempts to engage with the ACCJC to make the accreditation process more effective and collegial have yielded very little in the way of progress," the chancellor's office said in a written statement. "Simply put, the task force concluded that the California Community College system and its member institutions have lost confidence in the ACCJC and that change is needed. The recommendation is to develop a plan by spring 2016 to begin transitioning California community colleges to a different accrediting body."

Several state lawmakers have introduced bills to move the California community colleges away from the ACCJC's oversight. But Harris will not take a position on those bills, the system said. The discussion about whether, and how, to seek a new accreditor will take much longer than this legislative session. And the transition could take up to 10 years to complete.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 4:27am

Oakland Community College, in Michigan, may be forced for the winter term to cancel most or all of its online courses -- which are taken by about 12 percent of its students, The Detroit News reported. Oakland, like many community colleges, offers online programs. But the college's accreditor -- the Higher Learning Commission -- is required to conduct a more thorough review of online programs if students can take more than half of their classes online to receive degrees. The community college applied for authorization for the online programs in 2012 and was recently told that its request was premature and that it had to do more to earn recognition for those programs. Among the things the accreditor said the college must do is to finish a review process for online courses.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Maryland University College will by fall 2016 be a textbook-free institution, the Associated Press reported. The university, which serves mainly adult students and members of the military, will replace the textbooks with open educational resources, a spokesperson said. The change will first apply to about 64,000 undergraduate students in more than 700 courses this fall, then graduate students in fall 2016.

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