Portland State University expelled and banned from campus a graduate student who a classmate said had made threatening remarks involving guns and a professor, The Oregonian reported. The article describes how the university acted quickly after receiving the report and about how Henry Liu says the university unfairly viewed him as, in his words, a "crazy Asian shooter." Liu denies making the remarks attributed to him, and a psychiatrist concluded that he poses no danger to himself or others.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Britain's University of Manchester has unveiled a "pray-o-mat," a small booth in which people can listen to, and join in, 300 pre-recorded prayers from a range of faiths, in 65 different languages. The project is part of study on multi-faith spaces. Ralf Brand, the lead researcher, said that "though the pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we're doing. Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive. In many places a small, clean and largely unadorned space can serve adequately."
President Obama announced Wednesday night that he is planning to create a new office to focus on the needs of African-American students at all levels of education, NBC News reported. The office will work with all federal agencies so that "so every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born to the time, all through the time they get a career," Obama said in an address to the Urban League.
The College of William & Mary and the Eastern Virginia Medical School announced Wednesday that they are discussing the possibility of the medical school becoming a part of the college. Statements from the two institutions stressed that no final decision had been made, and that any merger would require state approval.
New York City Council on Wednesday approved a series of zoning changes that will allow for a major expansion of New York University, The New York Times reported. The project involves new academic building, dormitories and other spaces and "will change the look and feel of Greenwich Village more than almost any other project in decades," the Times reported. Many in the neighborhood oppose the expansion plan, but the final vote by the City Council was 44-to-1.
A professor at the University of Texas at Austin is facing questions about his credibility after a nonprofit watchdog group said that he did not reveal ties to a drilling company as he led a study on hydraulic fracturing that found that the process produced no groundwater contamination. “UT promoted the study as an independent inquiry into fracking’s environmental risks, but PAI found that the study was actually led by a gas industry insider and UT faculty member, Charles ‘Chip’ Groat, who sits on the board of fracker Plains Exploration & Production (PXP),” according to the introduction to the report by the Public Accountability Initiative, the watchdog group.
After the watchdog group published its report, the Austin American-Statesman reviewed SEC filings and found that Groat had been paid $413,900 in cash and stock by the company last year and holds $1.6 million of the company’s stock. Groat called the report a mix of truth, half-truths and unfounded conclusions, according to StateImpact, an NPR project with local public radio stations that examines public policy issues. The university said Tuesday that it would ask outside experts to review the fracking study, according to StateImpact.
The Public Accountability Initiative recently raised questions about a study on fracking at the State University of New York at Buffalo, as more and more universities become battlegrounds for debates over the issue.
While Pell Grants would be safe even if deep, mandatory cuts to domestic spending go into effect early next year, many other education programs would be at risk, according to a report released Wednesday by Senator Tom Harkin. The Iowa Democrat's report singled out TRIO and GEAR UP, two programs that prepare low-income students for college, saying that the programs could lose $90 million if sequestration goes into effect, eliminating services to more than 100,000 students. During a Senate hearing Wednesday on the effects of the spending cuts, which will take hold in January if Congress does not act on a long-term debt reduction plan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said student loan processing would also be affected.
The American Bar Association has ordered the law school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pay $250,000 as a punishment for producing years of false statistics to be used by ranking agencies and prospective students, The Wall Street Journal reported. The statistics were about the qualifications and admission rates for entering classes. The law school went public with the story last year, and corrected the data.
Peter Burnham, the former president of New Jersey's Brookdale Community College, on Tuesday admitted that he used college funds for personal expenses, and faces a five-year prison sentence as a result, The Star-Ledger reported. The personal expenses included personal hotel bills, clothing, electronics, alcohol and groceries. Further, the investigation found that Burnham urged his son to apply for a federal student loan to pay his tuition at Monmouth University, even though the son's tuition was already paid by the college as part of the president's employment contract.