Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
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.
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."
Apple -- a popular company in China -- is under fire there for plans to open an outlet of some kind in the library of Peking University, AFP reported. Websites are posting many critical comments, even though the Apple facility being planned is reportedly more a place to demonstrate products than to sell them. "Setting up in a school is acceptable, but it should be separated from teaching facilities," said one post. "The store occupies space in the library, despite it having so few seats already."
Tyndale University College and Seminary, a Christian Canadian university, has called off a visit by President George W. Bush next week. While the university cited a "scheduling change," the announcement came as some alumni and a professor started a petition drive against Bush's planned, invitation-only appearance, The Toronto Star reported.
The University of Iowa has apologized to Representative Michele Bachmann, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, for a tweet on the university Twitter account. The Associated Press reported that the tweet was attempting to joke about reports of a cougar being sited in Iowa City, and said "I didn’t know Bachmann was in town. Bah-dum-bum." After the AP asked about the tweet, it was removed.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued Linn State Technical College over its decision to test all of its students for drugs. Administrators at the Missouri college, whose comprehensive drug-testing program is believed to be a first for a public institution, said the approach was justified because many of its students are in programs (such as aircraft maintenance) in which they will operate sometimes dangerous equipment. But the ACLU said that college officials' acknowledgment that they will test students whom they do not suspect of drug use made the program clearly unconstitutional.
The Open Society Foundations on Wednesday announced a grant program that will provide $20 million to colleges and universities that integrate debate into the curriculum, across disciplines. "Today’s undergraduates are the first to come of age in a post 9/11 world. Students around the world have few if any recollections of a time before the 'war on terror,' " said a statement from Noel Selegzi, director of the Youth Initiative at the Open Society Foundations. "Debate helps us recognize that public policy is best developed when the force of an argument, and not the argument of force, is most potent."
A day after his board approved a plan for yet another round of potential budget cuts, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia told members of the Board of Regents that the 35-campus system needs to study whether merging some campuses might be a more effective way to reduce spending. “I believe it is time for the system to study if campus consolidations are justified and will enhance our ability to serve the people of Georgia at less cost,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby told the regents. Previous such discussions have run into a buzzsaw in Georgia, often because they have involved the possible closure of historically black colleges, inflaming issues of race. Huckaby said that in addition to the study of possible consolidations, the system would examine more closely how it utilizes facilities space on its campuses.