Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 4:26am

Some academics and consumer advocates are worried about a shift in support for agriculture research, the Associated Press reported. Citing data from a recent report from Food and Water Watch, the AP noted that nearly 25 percent of the funds for agriculture research now come from corporations, foundations and trade groups, an all-time high. Meanwhile, federal support has dropped to 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.


Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how fluorine can be used to create useful new pharmaceuticals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 3:00am

The College Board, facing widespread criticism, on Tuesday announced that it was abandoning plans to test out an August administration of the SAT this year. Many high school students want a summer option for taking the SAT, but many college and high school officials were upset by the College Board's plan to try out the idea with a summer program of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented -- a program whose $4,500 price tag led many educators to call the pilot a "rich kids SAT."

Initially the College Board defended the idea of using that group to test an August SAT. But on Tuesday, the board issued a statement that said in part that "certain aspects" of the summer program whose participants would gain the August SAT opportunity "run counter to our mission of promoting equity and access, as well as to our beliefs about SAT performance." The statement added, however, that the organization was "still very much committed to exploring the concept of a summer administration," and would look for ways in the future to do so "in a manner that better aligns with our mission and the students we serve. Steps also are being taken internally to ensure that future initiatives receive the appropriate level of senior management review."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 3:00am

New York State's highest court on Tuesday ruled that Shawn Bukowski did not have the right to sue Clarkson University over injuries he suffered during a baseball practice. Bukowski was a pitcher who -- in his first "live" practice -- had a ball hit right back at him, striking his jaw and breaking a tooth. His suit argued that he was not fully introduced to the circumstances and dangers he would face in practice. But the court found otherwise. "[P]laintiff was an experienced and knowledgeable baseball player who assumed the inherent risk of being hit by a line drive," the court ruled.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 3:00am

Barbara Walters apologized Tuesday when e-mail records revealed her efforts to help Sheherazad Jaafari, an aide to Syria's president, get a job or get into Columbia University's journalism school, The Telegraph reported. Walters got to know Jaafari when the journalist was pushing to interview Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whose government has been holding on to power in the country with brutal crackdowns on protesters. The e-mail records indicate that Walters approached a Columbia professor, praising Jaafari, and that he then offered to help.

Richard Wald, the professor, said he would try to get the admissions office "to give her special attention." Wald told the Telegraph that Jaafari had not applied so he didn't do anything on her behalf, but he said that "I would ask the admissions office to give special attention to anyone with a recommendation from Ms. Walters or anyone else in journalism." Walters issued a statement in which she said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."


Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, John Parmelee of the University of North Florida reveals how Twitter is reshaping the relationship between politicians and their constituents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 3:00am

A North Carolina appeals court has ruled that private colleges' police records are not public records. The ruling came in a case brought by a one-time student journalist who filed an open records request seeking records from Elon College about a student's arrest. The appeals court said that the private institution was not covered by the open records requirements. The Student Press Law Center criticized the ruling. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the association, said, "Getting more information about crime into the public’s hands does nothing but good. There’s no good argument why a crime that takes place in the quad of a private college should be kept secret, while the same crime would be public if it took place in the middle of a Pizza Hut."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 4:24am

College and university presidents are expected to announce at the White House today a new system to promote clarity of financial aid packages, The New York Times reported. Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, students will be provided with a "shopping sheet" with easily understandable aid packages, detailing costs after grants, and estimating monthly payments on any loans. Details will be released today.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 4:27am

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, charged with enforcing Roman Catholic teachings, on Monday denounced the book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, by Sister Margaret A. Farley, saying that it was "not consistent with authentic Catholic theology," and should not be used by Catholics, The New York Times reported. Sister Farley is a professor emerita of Christian ethics at the Yale University Divinity School. The book presents theological rationales for, among other things, same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce. In a statement, Sister Farley said: "I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether."


Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 4:30am

Ohio State University has received a bid of $483 million to lease parking operations for the next 50 years, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The university had hoped for a bid of at least $375 million. Some faculty members and others have criticized the leasing plan as needless outsourcing, but university officials have said that a deal could improve parking management and provide needed revenue.



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