At Boston University last week, every freshman and transfer student -- all 4,300 of them -- received a call from a university official asking how they were doing in their adjustment to the institution, The Boston Globe reported. Among those making the calls were the provost and dean of students. The idea is to show personal attention, and to invite any students facing difficulties to seek assistance.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Islamists stormed the University of Sousse, in Tunisia, on Saturday as tensions escalated over the university's refusal to enroll a woman who wears a full face veil, Reuters reported. After the incident, security forces surrounded the faculty building to prevent further attacks.
West Virginia University on Friday asked reporters to avoid calling studies by its faculty members "WVU research," The Charleston Gazette reported. Many colleges and universities routinely urge reporters to cover research by their faculty members, and to link the findings to the institution involved. A statement from the university said that it was trying to clarify only that the university does not take a stand on research -- except to defend professors' rights to explore ideas. But the newspaper noted that the clarification followed a series of public health studies by the university's researchers that have been heavily criticized by the coal industry, an influential force in West Virginia.
The 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics will be awarded this morning. This site will be updated when information is available.
Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, is having a public fight with New York University, where he earned his law degree. The New York Times reported that Koch demanded that the NYU's law school distribute a rebuttal to a report that is highly critical of some of the U.S. government's prosecutions of terror suspects. NYU says that anyone is welcome to criticize the report, but that the university cannot selectively involve itself in critiquing controversial work by its faculty members. Koch told the Times: "Academic freedom doesn’t mean you have the right to distribute false reports, and when called to your attention, to do nothing about it. The dean doesn’t seem to care whether it’s factual or not."
But John Beckman, an NYU spokesman said: "We live in a society where there are lots of institutions that speak with a single voice. That is not how a university works. We provide a forum for a lot of different views, including controversial views. So when an outsider sees something with which he or she disagrees and says, 'Condemn that point of view,' that is the exact opposite of what we are about."
Michael Berkowitz, who formerly was director of enrollment at the University of Phoenix, is facing murder charges in Colorado, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported. Authorities say that he ordered his bodyguard to kill a man Berkowitz believed had sold him dirt, rather than drugs. Berkowitz's lawyers maintain that the bodyguard is responsible for the death, and that a back condition led Berkowitz to become addicted to heroin, setting off the chain of events that led to the killing in which Berkowitz is charged.
The president and the dean of instructional services at Bishop State Community College, in Alabama, have doctorates from unaccredited institutions, The Press-Register reported. James Lowe, the president, lists on his résumé a doctorate from San Francisco Technical University. Latitia McCane holds a doctorate from Lacrosse University. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation said that neither university had ever been accredited by a recognized agency. Both officials said that they worked hard for their doctorates. State education officials in 2008 adopted a policy barring the recognition of doctorates from institutions not recognized by one of the regional accreditors, but the chancellor of postsecondary education said that Lowe and McCane were "grandfathered" because they earned their degrees before the policy was adopted.
Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, has sent a letter to the American Bar Association, calling on it to take more meaningful steps to make sure that law schools report accurate statistics on job placement to prospective students. The ABA has said that it is moving on the issue and strengthening its rules. But citing lawsuits and media reports, Boxer wrote to the ABA that it was not doing enough.
"In a year when a number of lawsuits alleging consumer protection law violations have been filed against ABA law schools, when major newspapers have devoted thousands of words to problems with law school reporting practices, and when two United States senators have encouraged significant changes to your policies, it is surprising that the ABA is resorting to half measures instead of tackling a major problem head on," Boxer wrote.
She called for independent oversight and auditing of the statistics reported by law schools.
When the maximum Stafford loan went up, the percentage of undergraduates who borrowed through the program decreased at first, but as time passed, that percentage grew. That is one of the findings of a new research brief from the National Center for Education Statistics. The analysis focuses on issues related to the setting of maximum levels for borrowing under the Stafford program. Another parts of the study looked at the relationship between working full time and Stafford borrowing. A smaller percentage (26 percent) of those who worked full time when enrolled borrowed the maximum than did those who borrowed less than the maximum (33 percent) and those who did not borrow (37 percent).
In today's Academic Minute, John Hatle of the University of North Florida explains his research using grasshoppers to understand why avoiding reproduction often increases an organism’s overall lifespan. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.