Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Jerry Sandusky, whose alleged molestation of boys has created a mammoth scandal at Pennsylvania State University, applied and was rejected for a volunteer football coaching job at Juniata College in 2010, the Associated Press reported. The rejection followed a background check that turned up an investigation into his conduct at a high school where he had volunteered. All this occurred after he left his Penn State job, but before the allegations about him became public. Juniata officials said that, even after he was rejected, he showed up at football events, and that the athletics director had to tell all football officials that Sandusky could not play any role with the football program.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Schuckers of St. Lawrence University undertakes a statistical analysis of hockey’s most exciting feature. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Chicago's community college system will join with industry experts to revamp occupational training to meet the skills gap in fast-growing sectors. The program, announced Monday by Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor, will involve a curriculum redesign and the creation of new certificate programs by the City Colleges of Chicago. Jobs in health care, transportation and distribution and logistics will be the initial focus, but the partnership may later expand into other high-demand fields. Industry representatives will work as teacher-practitioners at the colleges, according to a news release, to "deliver a real-world perspective in City Colleges' classrooms."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Stony Brook is today announcing a $150 million gift from James and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation. The gift is the largest ever to Stony Brook or any SUNY campus, and comes from donors who have already been generous to the university. James Simons has been a strong advocate for giving the SUNY system's research universities more autonomy and more control over their funds, and has said in the past that he would be motivated to give more if he saw movement in that direction. Shifts in the last year gave more authority over tuition revenue to the SUNY system. The $150 million gift will support medical research, new endowed professorships, and funds to recruit top undergraduate and graduate students.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 4:36am

A new report from the College Board finds that progress toward increasing degree attainment in the United States has been minimal in recent years. The report, consistent with numerous other reports, suggests that -- barring major changes -- the United States will miss various goals set by the College Board and other groups for much higher levels of degree attainment. The College Board's goal is that by 2025, 55 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 would have an associate degree. The most recent data, the organization said, show that figure at 41.1 percent.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Because expected state revenues did not materialize, the University of California and California State University systems must each cut an additional $100 million from their operating budgets, California Governor Jerry Brown announced Tuesday. The cuts come on top of $650 million each system had to cut after the budget was finalized this summer. The community college system, also facing new cuts, will probably increase tuition $10 per unit, starting with the summer 2012 session, on top of a $10 increase imposed this fall. In total, the cuts to higher education and other services will total about $1 billion.

The cuts are not entirely unexpected. When Brown signed the state budget in June, many said revenue projections were too optimistic. The Davis Enterprise quoted a University of California spokesman as saying that the system planned to absorb the additional cut and would not ask campuses to contribute.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 4:38am

The Illinois prepaid tuition program is short by about 30 percent -- or nearly $560 million -- to meet the obligations it has made to families, The Chicago Tribune reported. The article is based on a new report by actuarial accountants. The state stopped selling new contracts in the program in September, but has yet to figure out how to meet the commitments the program has already made.


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