Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, April 12, 2013 - 3:00am

Benjamin Carson. a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, has withdrawn as the graduation speaker for the ceremonies this year at the Hopkins School of Medicine and the School of Education. Some students have been pushing for him to be replaced as a speaker because of statements he made about gay people. Asked by Fox News about gay marriage, he said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."

A statement from the university said that "Dr. Carson's decision to withdraw was his and his alone. He was not asked by either school to do so. He told the deans of the two schools that he was withdrawing to avoid distracting attention from the graduates."

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 3:00am

Hundreds of employees at Bergen Community College apparently overpaid their New Jersey and federal taxes for years, The Bergen Record reported. The overpayments were the result of incorrect calculations about life insurance policies that are covered by the W-2 forms employees receive to do their taxes. The college has issued new W-2 forms and is advising employees that they may want to file amended returns for prior years.

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:24am

The University of North Carolina board is expected today to name Carol Folt as the next chancellor of the flagship campus at Chapel Hill, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Folt is currently interim president of Dartmouth College, where she has served as provost. She will succeed Holden Thorp, who is becoming provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Thorp has been well respected as an academic leader at UNC, but is leaving the chancellorship after a series of scandals in athletics.


Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:27am

Authorities have charged that about 20 people become fake students at Contra Costa College, applied for and received Pell Grants, and never attended classes, The Contra Costa Times reported. The ringleaders are alleged to have recruited people to participate, and to have taken a cut of the funds from each participant. The scheme (a problem faced by other colleges) is known as a "Pell runner" scam.


Friday, April 12, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Evie Malaia of the University of Texas at Arlington reveals what features of American Sign Language have to say about how the brain processes language. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:32am

The European University Association has released a new analysis of the state of global university rankings. Various evaluation systems continue to proliferate and existing ones refine their methodologies, the report says. But some things do not change. The study notes "biases and flaws" that favor elite universities. Further, the report says that most rankings -- which tend to focus on research - "still not able to do justice to research carried out in the area of arts, humanities and social sciences."

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 3:00am

RMIT University, in Melbourne, is attracting criticism for its decision to reject all applications from Iranian and Syrian students because of government sanctions, The Courier-Mail reported. However, a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are no blanket bans that would prevent the admission of students from these countries.

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 3:00am

North Korea has been warning foreigners to leave South Korea. But early indications are that American students and those leading American programs in South Korea are monitoring developments, but not changing their plans. WKYT News covered a group of students from Eastern Kentucky University who are in South Korea and who reported nervous families at home, but no problems more serious than that. And The Times Beacon Record reported on how officials at the State University of New York at Buffalo, which recently opened a campus in South Korea, say that everything is continuing there, despite the threats from the north. By not leaving the country, the American students and academics are following the advice of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, which is not recommending changes in travel plans to South Korea.


Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Boston University has demonstrated the success of "holistic" admissions for medical school, according an analysis published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Under such admissions, grades and test scores aren't accorded the same dominant role they have traditionally played in admissions decisions, and factors such as empathy, strength of character and cultural sensitivity receive more attention. At BU's medical school, such a policy was adopted in 2009. As officials had hoped, the new approach led to more diversity in the class -- with the percentage of underrepresented minority students increasing from 11 to 20 percent. But the article noted that traditional measures also showed gains. The average college grade-point average has increased from 3.57 to 3.66, and the average score on the Medical College Admission Test increased from 31.68 to 33.62.


Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 3:00am

San Jose State University last fall began offering its students an online engineering course from edX, a provider of massive open online courses. The course was designed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hosted on the edX platform, but taught by faculty from San Jose State. Now that course will be available to students from as many as 11 other campuses in the California State University System, the university announced Wednesday. San Jose State is also creating a Center for Excellence in Adaptive and Blended Learning to train faculty members from other campuses. And the university will soon offer other edX courses to its students, university officials said, including ones in the humanities, business and social sciences.


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