Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, April 1, 2013 - 3:00am

The Orange County Register is selling three universities ads that will appear in special weekly sections that will contain "positive" news about the institutions, The Los Angeles Times reported. A memo from an administrator at the University of California at Irvine -- one of the participating universities -- said that its public relations staff would serve as "content advisors, idea generators and collaborators" on the project. The participating institutions, in addition to Irvine, are Chapman University and California State University at Fullerton. Each will pay $275,000. Register officials said that they would still make final decisions on content, and that the news pages would not be affected by the pledges about the kind of content to appear in these special sections.

Jeffrey Brody, a professor of communications at Fullerton and a former Register reporter, said that the new approach would be "wonderful for the universities," but he questioned whether this was appropriate for a newspaper. "If publishing the sections is dependent upon advertising revenue from the universities, then the Register might as well call itself a newsletter rather than a newspaper.... If this is the way Publisher [Aaron] Kushner intends to revitalize the newspaper industry, he needs to brush up on journalism ethics and principles."

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 4:37am

Journal publishers and others are investigating Benjamin A. Neil, a professor in the accounting department, for what some are calling plagiarism, The Baltimore Sun reported. A librarian who is a plagiarism watchdog notified Towson officials and others of what he saw as plagiarism, and the Sun did its own review, which it said "shows passages with identical language and others with close similarities to scholarly journals, news publications, congressional testimony, blogs and websites. In many cases, there was no attribution." Neil denied wrongdoing, saying "I don't think I've done anything wrong. The issue seems to be that I didn't put things in quotes. But I've given attribution to people."

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

At least 12 students were killed by a mortar strike at Damascus University on Thursday, The New York Times reported. Government and rebel forces blamed one another for the attack, which took place at an outdoor café close to the civil engineering building. Students were reportedly taking an exam inside the building at the time of the strike.

Thursday’s was the second major attack on Syrian university students this year. In January, more than 80 people were killed by explosions at Aleppo University.

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

Greece's parliament on Thursday approved legislation that will lead to numerous mergers of programs at the nation's universities, the Associated Press reported. Government leaders argue that the law will allow for efficient use of funds (which are in short supply in the country) to promote quality programs. Students rallied against the law and police used tear gas on a protest outside of the parliament building.


Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

Brenda Scheer, dean of the University of Utah architecture school, resigned on Thursday, following an 11-year tenure and a recent period of controversy, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Scheer has been criticized for the resignation of Prescott Muir as architecture chair. Students and faculty members accused Scheer of forcing Muir out, prompting her to apologize and Muir to agree to continue in the role. But the criticism of Scheer continued.

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

Federal authorities have charged 11 people in the Detroit area in four separate crime rings in which people applied for student loans for which they were not eligible, costing the government more than $1 million, The Detroit Free Press reported. The schemes generally involved distance education providers where students need not be physically present in class. Those applying for the loans lacked either a high school diploma or a GED and thus were not eligible.


Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

Most universities will face only minimal effects from the automatic budget cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the month, according to a report released Thursday by Moody's Investors Service. The report looked at the projected financial effect of the 5 percent cuts to domestic discretionary spending, known as sequestration, and found that only 1 percent of colleges and not-for-profits stood to lose more than 3 percent of their annual revenue as the result of the cuts.

Research universities were most likely to be hit hard by the cuts because federal funding for scientific research is one of the areas affected. While some financial aid programs -- particularly federal work-study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant -- will also be cut, the Pell Grant, bedrock of need-based financial aid programs, is safe for the 2013-14 academic year.

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Schwartz of Mount Holyoke College explores the historical events that inspired Victor Hugo to pen Les Misérables. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 4:30am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday unveiled a new database on consumer complaints on various financial services and products, including student loans. “By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” said a statement from Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “The database is good for consumers and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 3:00am

An independent report requested by the board of Roxbury Community College found that the Massachusetts institution had violated campus safety laws and may have lost track of significant sums of money, The Boston Globe reported. The investigation was requested after the departure of the last president and several board members, amid various allegations about the college. One finding was that the college had failed to investigate sexual assault complaints about two employees. New board members and administrators have said that they are already working on some of the issues identified in the report, and said that they would continue efforts to improve management of the college.



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