Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 4:22am

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, unpopular with students and faculty members at Saint Louis University, where he is president, has vowed to ease tensions. But a survey on the campus mood is causing more tension before the results are even tabulated. Faculty leaders complained that the survey features only one question about the president and generally refers to "the university," making it difficult for those answering to note their frustrations, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors then announced a plan to redistribute the plan, substituting "the president" for "the university" where such wording might be helpful to understanding campus climate. The university's response was to send a lawyer to the AAUP threatening a copyright suit for using the survey with those wording changes.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 3:00am

A new survey has found that 17 percent of college athletes in Division I responded to survey questions in ways consistent with depression. Only 8 percent of former Division I athletes had the same scores on the survey. The researchers said that when they started their project, they assumed they would find higher levels of depression in the former athletes than the current ones. The findings were published in the journal Sports Health.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 4:24am

The White Student Union, an unofficial, small group at Towson University, has been capturing headlines recently with claims (untrue, the university says) of a surge in crime against white students. In response, about 200 students marched through the campus Tuesday in an event designed to show that the views of the White Student Union do not represent the student body or the university, The Baltimore Sun reported.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 3:00am

President Clinton and Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark Wrighton on Tuesday outlined plans for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2013 meeting, which will be held this month at the university, attracting a large group of student leaders.

While the event will feature discussion on numerous issues, Clinton discussed several higher education issues in the call Tuesday, expressing concerns about debt levels. “We can’t continue to see the cost of education go up … every decade … when wages are flat,” he said. “The student loan reform [passed in 2010] will help, but a lot of people have student debt that goes beyond the federal student loan program… I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system.” The answer, Clinton said, may be online education, but “the next big step in this whole deal is for someone to certify what you need to know and then figure out some way of validating the merits of these on line courses.”

Prescription drug abuse, Clinton said, was a particular problem at colleges and universities. “Every institution of higher education should make sure that 100 percent of students understand that you can’t mix prescription pills with alcohol… It’s important that this message [also] go out to students in high schools [and] working people,” he said. “All these young people in their 20s and 30s [are] dying because of these abuses that would be very easily corrected.”

Gendered violence, Clinton said, was an issue that generated substantial interest from university and college students, both from a broader, global-justice based perspective or on a personal level. “It’s a huge problem around the world; the subjugation of women and girls as opposed to the education and empowerment of women and girls is one of the choices the world has to make,” Clinton said. “The students are very interested, particularly if they can figure out some way they can make a difference, even if it’s just sending $5 to the right organization.”


Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Lisa Aziz-Zadeh of the University of Southern California explains how the brain behaves differently while observing someone we dislike. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Many colleges in Florida — and potentially other states, including California and Texas — could lose eligibility for their students to receive federal financial aid under a new interpretation of the Education Department's "state authorization" rule. While the rule will not be enforced for distance education, it still requires colleges to be licensed in their own state. The Education Department is currently interpreting the rule in a way that disqualifies state licensure by means of accreditation — a process that allows colleges to bypass the ordinary licensure process and be granted state approval based on their accreditation status.

The Education Department sent letters to several Florida colleges in recent weeks, warning them that licensure by means of accreditation is not sufficient to comply with the state authorization rule. The states and the Education Department have until July 1 to resolve the dispute. At that time, all colleges must be in compliance with the department's program integrity rules, including state authorization.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 4:18am

Huajun Zhao, an associate researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has been charged with economic espionage, accused of stealing research data and materials for a cancer-fighting compound, The Milwaukee Journal reported. Zhao was arrested Saturday and remains held without bail. The charges are based on video of Zhao in a professor's laboratory and searches of his computer hard drive, where he had materials related to the research in question. Zhao also had plane tickets to China for use today. His lawyer told the Journal: "In this earliest stage of a complex case involving a talented professional accused of a serious crime, we look forward to rolling up our sleeves on Dr. Zhao's behalf."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 4:22am

President Obama will today announce a $100 million initiative to invent and improve technologies to understand the brain, The New York Times reported. Officials are comparing the effort's ambition and potential impact to that of the Human Genome Project. Part of the plan is to require study of the ethical implications of the new technologies and new research that could be enabled.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Vanity Fair and "60 Minutes" have released a poll of the public on alma maters. Among the findings:

  • Only 32 percent of adults can name the president or dean of their alma mater.
  • Asked about the SAT, 39 percent called the test "a necessary evil," while 23 percent called it a "successful equalizer."
  • Only 34 percent could name Illinois as the state where you can find Northwestern University. (Washington State was picked by 17 percent, Michigan by 11 percent and Oregon by 6 percent).
  • Asked what they wished they had done more of in college, 48 percent said studying, 40 percent said networking, 4 percent said sex and 1 percent said drugs.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Oberlin College marked April 1 by letting kittens take over its website. The site should be back to normal today, but the college has archived the kittens of Meowberlin College here.


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