Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

A Canadian scientist has been stripped of a federal research grant after authorities found that his application materials and C.V. included claims that he had conducted research and published findings about the research -- even though the research and publications did not exist, Postmedia News reported. The Canadian research agency that took action against the scientist declined to identify him.

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Greg Mortenson has declined this year's Grawemeyer Award for contributions to education. The University of Louisville makes the annual award and selected Mortenson -- author of Three Cups of Tea and a philanthropist who has promoted the development of schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- just before questions were raised on "60 Minutes" about his book and about the management of his philanthropy. A university press release quoted Mortenson as saying that the award was a great honor, but that he was declining nonetheless. “I wish to humbly decline the Grawemeyer Award as a way to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of all those who have gone before us and those who continue to promote peace through education,” Mortenson said. The scandal over Mortenson's work has put many colleges in an awkward position because they assign his work and he is a popular speaker on campuses.

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday unveiled a new website to assist international students interesting in studying in the United States. Secretary Janet Napolitano said it will be a "one-stop shop" for questions about visas, visa renewals and qualification requirements for students looking to come to the United States to study. She said it is part of the department's initiative to encourage international involvement in higher education. John Morton, director of immigration and customs enforcement, said. "We want to be welcoming and to encourage the best and the brightest with a system marked by integrity."

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Today was supposed to be the day when the next big shoe dropped in the frenzied free-for-all over conference affiliations in big-time college football, with the governing boards of the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas scheduled to meet to discuss expected moves by those institutions. But the Atlantic Coast Conference sent another set of shock waves through the industry by announcing Sunday that Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh had decided to bolt the Big East Conference and join the ACC.

The moves by Pitt and Syracuse appeared to take other members of the Big East Conference by surprise, and angered some, who questioned whether Pitt's chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, was shooting straight when, as chair of the league's board, he called for Big East solidarity on several key issues. The defections appear to put the Atlantic Coast league on a path to becoming the first 16-member Football Bowl Subdivision league and to threaten the viability of the Big East as a football conference.

Developments later today, meanwhile, could put another existing league at similar risk, if Texas and Oklahoma, as expected, say they are leaving (or considering leaving) the Big 12 Conference for the Pacific-12 Conference (or perhaps another league, in Oklahoma's case).

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Italian authorities announced Friday that they had discovered a fake university operating in Verona, AFP reported. About 10 students were paying $9,600 for courses that they were falsely told told would be recognized elsewhere. The university was called Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne).

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Oxford has agreed to let a furniture manufacturer attach the names of various buildings and alumni to such items as bookcases, desks and sofas that it sells. The Telegraph reported that some faculty members find the money-making venture a bit tacky. Peter Oppenheimer, an emeritus professor, said: “Words fail me. It is vulgar, inappropriate and unauthorized by the university at large.... This does absolutely nothing for the university other than cheapen its image.” Perhaps those faculty members who are upset can take comfort that Oxford has yet to go as far as many American universities when it comes to where they will let their names and logos appear.

Friday, September 16, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil Johnson of the University of Miami reveals how an advanced statistical analysis of war's chaotic events can provide predictive power. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, September 16, 2011 - 3:00am

James Runcie, who has served as interim chief operating officer of the Education Department's Federal Student Aid office since William J. Taggart resigned his post in July after two years in the job, has been appointed as chief operating officer on a permanent basis, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter announced in an e-mail on Thursday. Runcie joined the Federal Student Aid office, the "performance-based organization" that administers the government's financial aid and loan programs, in 2009 after a career in banking.

Friday, September 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Pearson continued adding to its education empire, buying the online charter school operator Connections Education, the company announced Thursday. Connections Education, which runs online K-12 schools in 21 states, represents a new sort of business for Pearson, which currently offers a variety of online education products but does not operate any American educational institutions on its own. Pearson bought the company from Apollo Management, a private equity firm that is unrelated to the Apollo Group, owner of the University of Phoenix.

Friday, September 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Maryland authorities say that an 18-year-old Bowie State University student was fatally stabbed Thursday by her roommate, The Washington Post reported. The stabbing followed an argument, but officials do not know what the dispute was about. Bowie State has canceled classes for today, and plans to hold a "community gathering for consolation."

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