Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 14, 2013

More medical colleges are  managing conflicts of interest in clinical care, but most still do not meet national standards for dealing with conflicts, according to a study released Friday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.  Researchers looked at medical colleges' policies in 2011, and found that nearly two-thirds of medical colleges did not have policies to limit ties to industry in a least one of the areas the study examined, which included gifts, meals, drug samples and payments for travel, consulting and speaking. None of the 133 medical colleges met all of the standards for the 12 areas examined, but a number of medical colleges made progress toward national standards since the institute's previous study, based on 2008 data. The proportion of medical colleges with no policies dropped from more than 25 percent in 2008 to less than 2 percent in 2011.

“We are pleased that the authors recognize the substantial efforts that medical schools have taken over the past several years to strengthen their conflict of interest policies,” said Heather Price, senior director of science policy for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

A majority of the medical schools have no policies or permissive policies for accepting drug samples and industry-funded continuing medical education, consulting, honoraria and speakers’ bureaus, according to the study. The findings should prompt medical school administrators to “take bolder steps to rid medicine of industry influence and preserve public trust,” said David Rothman, the institute's president and the study's co-author.

 

 

October 14, 2013

Pressure is growing on the board of Westfield State University to remove Evan Dobelle as president. Dobelle has been accused of lavish and inappropriate spending on travel and personal items. Richard Freeland, commission of higher education in Massachusetts said Friday that it was "highly questionable" that Dobelle remain in office, The Boston Globe reported. While Dobelle has defended his record, and said that he is reimbursed the state for inappropriate expenses, Freeland said that the record shows Dobelle to have engaged in "repeated examples of inappropriate behavior," and that "it would be hard to overstate the damage that has been done to the reputation of our public colleges and universities." A spokesman for Dobelle said that the Freeland statements "were evidence of a well coordinated public relations attack to mask political agendas."

 

 

October 14, 2013

Robert Barchi's first year as president of Rutgers University has had plenty of controversy: athletics scandals, questions about athletics spending, criticism from the Newark campus that his focus is too much on the flagship campus, and a remark (that Barchi said was intended as a joke) that offended some minority scholars. An article in The Star-Ledger said that while Barchi has won praise for managing the merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry into Rutgers, and for the move to the Big 10 athletics conference, "[b]y all accounts, Rutgers President Robert Barchi had a difficult freshman year." The newspaper also reported that the board recently awarded him a $90,000 bonus out of the $97,500 he could have received -- and that Barchi donated the money back to the university. A letter to Barchi from the Rutgers board chair said: "We are delighted with the progress Rutgers has seen this past year, and we thank you for your dedication and leadership."

October 14, 2013

Moody’s issued a report last week warning universities of the risks associated with big-time sports and urging caution for those seeking to escalate into elite levels of competition. Focusing on institutions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the report acknowledges that while big-time sports can boost brand recognition, donor support and student applications, that’s accompanied by growing “financial and reputational risks that require careful oversight.” Those risks include budgetary strain (nine in 10 athletic programs are not self-sustaining and require growing subsidies diverted from other university operations), public scrutiny when scandals hit, depleted debt capacity caused by capital investment in athletic facilities, and uncertain future costs as concussion treatment and the amateur model continue to be challenged.

In June, Moody’s downgraded the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative, citing a major lawsuit angling for athletes to be paid. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities,” the Moody’s report said.

October 14, 2013

The Task Force on American Innovation, a coalition of industry and scholarly groups, on Friday wrote to Congressional leaders to urge increased focus on promoting innovation in the American economy. "The many companies, universities, and scientific societies that this task force represents share their view that our role as the world’s innovation leader is in serious jeopardy due to inadequate federal support for research and STEM education," the letter says. "We believe that America must maintain a commitment to its competitiveness and future innovation capabilities. This commitment is vital to short- and long-term economic growth, especially in the competitive global economy."

 

October 14, 2013

Three professors were honored this morning with the 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for "their empirical analysis of asset prices." The three are: Eugene F. Fama, the Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago;  Lars Peter Hansen, David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics at the University of Chicago; and
Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University.

 

 

October 14, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has encouraged the state's colleges (most of them former community colleges) to develop plans for $10,000 bachelor's degrees (for four years of expenses). But The Sun Sentinel reported that not all of the programs announced have actually started, and that it is unclear just how much demand exists. Broward College, for example, opened registration for such a program a month ago, with 80 slots. To date, no one has signed up.

 

October 14, 2013

California's governor, Jerry Brown, last week signed a bill that seeks to nudge the state's public institutions to comply with ambitious transfer pathway legislation. The new law sets a series of timelines for community colleges to create curriculums and begin offering transfer degrees. It also requires the California State University System to accept those degrees whenever possible.

October 14, 2013

Florida, like many states, has a searchable registry of sex offenders. But for the first time, the registry offers a higher education search, so users can find out if there are sex offenders enrolled at or working at specific colleges and universities, The Sun Sentinel reported. In almost all of the cases, the offenders are students. One Florida college, Edison State College, is currently considering a complete ban on the enrollment of sex offenders, The Naples Daily News reported.

October 14, 2013

The Horace Mann School, an elite private high school in New York City, informed parents that an anonymous person has written to colleges with the goal of damaging the admissions chances of one of the school's students, New York Magazine reported. The school has contacted the admissions offices that received the material to try to undo the damage. A letter sent by Canh Oxelson, director of college counseling, to parents said: "In 20 years of college admissions, I have never witnessed anything so disrespectful.... For a student to have worked so hard for so many years, only to see those efforts jeopardized by an act of sabotage, is absolutely unconscionable."

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