Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Scott on Thursday called for the board of Florida A&M University to suspend James Ammons as president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The Florida A&M board reprimanded Ammons this week, but stopped short of suspending him, amid an investigation into a hazing-related death of a student from the university's marching band. The governor's announcement came shortly after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that it was investigating "fraud and/or misconduct" in connection with its inquiry into the student's death. Ammons has said that he is working hard to prevent hazing.

 

Friday, December 16, 2011 - 3:00am

A committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature has recommended expanding the reach of two-year colleges in rural counties, and has proposed a new state institution that would include multiple campuses or learning centers. The Pennsylvania Commission on Community Colleges isn't sold on the idea, arguing that its members already offer the services the proposed college would. The commission also questioned whether a new institution would be the "best use of the state's limited funds."

Friday, December 16, 2011 - 4:29am

The Pentagon -- responding to criticism from Congress and higher education associations -- has agreed to delay by 90 days (until March 30) new rules on tuition benefits for service members. A letter to senators who opposed the new rules said that the additional time will be used to deal with concerns various groups have expressed. Many colleges say that the guidelines go too far in prescribing how programs must award academic credit and process student payments, among other issues. And many fear that the system -- if used for service members -- could be extended to veterans or other groups of students.

 
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 4:34am

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a student at Loyola University in New Orleans, charging that she threatened to blow up a building and to kill five professors -- all to avoid taking a test, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The first of two e-mail threats said: "Mamba pistol with five bullets in it for five professors in Monroe Hall.... I have no sympathy for any accidental casualties!!!" The second e-mail said: "You are really trying my patience! I am on the verge of blowing that bitch up and you'll be renovating from the foundation!" The student, who is free on bail, denies intending to harm anyone and says that the messages were a joke.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of California at Berkeley announced a new plan for middle class California families sending their children to the university. Under the plan, those with family incomes of $80,000 to $140,000 would have to pay only 15 percent of that income to go to Berkeley. The plan is similar to those in place at many elite private colleges, but Berkeley officials believe it is unique at a public institution. Berkeley officials said that they believed existing aid programs worked well for those from low incomes, but that those with slightly more money found it increasingly difficult to pay for college.

 

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Every four years, articles appear explaining Iowa to people elsewhere in the United States trying to understand the state that plays such a crucial role in selecting the president of the United States. This year one such article, "Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life," ran in The Atlantic, written by Stephen G. Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa. He describes how parts of the state are quite liberal, but how other parts are quite conservative, and he notes the role of religion, guns and other powerful forces among some Iowans. The response has been intense -- not only comments on the magazine's website but phone calls that Bloom told The Des Moines Register made him fear for the safety of his family. University of Iowa officials are speaking out to say that Bloom does not represent their views of the state.

In Iowa City, the university's home (and generally considered a liberal stronghold), a custom T-shirt store is thrilled with the controversy, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. A new T-shirt responds to Bloom by saying: "Iowa: If you’re reading this congratulations! You’ve survived meth, Jesus, hunting accidents, crime-filled river slums, and old people. Unfortunately, you are going to die sad and alone soon."

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 4:25am

The basic federal rules for protecting the human subjects of research studies are sound and do not need major changes, according to a report issued by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The commission was charged by President Obama with reviewing those rules in the wake of reports about research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 that intentionally exposed thousands of Guatemalans to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent. "The commission is confident that what happened in Guatemala in the 1940s could not happen today," said a statement from Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission and president of the University of Pennsylvania. While the basic system works, the commission said, some changes could improve it. The panel called for more data to be collected about studies with human subjects. And the commission suggested studying systems for compensating those injured in studies.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 4:30am

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has forwarded to an administrative law judge a proposal to permit the unionization of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move is a win for union advocates. Opponents of the union had wanted the commission to shut down the union drive based on past rulings that the graduate students are students, not employees. But the commission said that these were issues for the judge to consider.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kenneth Miller of Fort Lewis College explains the natural origin of some widely used medicines. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 4:32am

Wayne State University, which has had graduation rates in the 30 percent range in recent years, is considering a plan to toughen admissions standards, The Detroit Free Press reported. About 5 percent of current students would not have been admitted under the proposed system, which would give some applicants the option of earning admission by doing well in a summer "bridge" program. Critics fear that the applicants excluded are likely to be low-income, minority Detroit residents.

 

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