Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 9:08am

President Obama on Friday named 12 scientists as winners of the National Medal of Science. The honor was created in 1959 and annually salutes excellence in chemistry, engineering, computing, mathematics, or the biological, behavioral/social and physical sciences. This year's winners and their institutions:

  • Allen Bard, University of Texas at Austin
  • Sallie Chisholm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sidney Drell, Stanford University
  • Sandra Faber, University of California at Santa Cruz
  • Sylvester James Gates, University of Maryland at College Park
  • Solomon Golomb, University of Southern California
  • John Goodenough, University of Texas at Austin
  • M. Frederick Hawthorne, University of Missouri at Columbia
  • Leroy Hood, Institute for Systems Biology in Washington State
  • Barry Mazur, Harvard University
  • Lucy Shapiro, Stanford University
  • Anne Treisman, Princeton University

President Obama also named individuals, a team and a company as winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation


  • Frances Arnold, California Institute of Technology
  • George Carruthers, U.S. Naval Research Lab
  • Robert Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Norman McCombs, AirSep Corporation
  • Gholam Peyman, Arizona Retinal Specialists
  • Art Rosenfeld, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Jan Vilcek, New York University Langone Medical Center

Team: Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan and James Wynne, all from the IBM Corporation

Company: Raytheon BBN Technologies

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 1:08pm

Israeli authorities on Monday granted full university status to the Ariel University Center, a higher education center on the West Bank whose future has become a hotly debated issue in Israeli academic and political circles, The Jerusalem Post reported. Advocates for Israeli settlements on the West Bank have pushed for the center to be given the same status as other Israeli universities. But many Israeli academics -- professors and administrators alike -- have opposed the idea. Some have argued that the move will link Israeli higher education to the government's policies supporting greater West Bank settlement -- policies that many Israel academics abhor. Other academics have offered more practical criticism, arguing that there isn't enough money for the country to support an eighth full-fledged university. An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the move undercut the independence of Israeli higher education.

Seeking to block Monday's decision, the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities on Tuesday asked the High Court of Justice to block the elevation of Ariel. On Wednesday, the court rejected a request for an injunction to block the change in status.


Monday, December 24, 2012 - 5:05pm

The federal Office of Research Integrity has concluded that an Ohio State University pharmacology professor fabricated data in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The agency announced last month that two investigations by the university and its own inquiry had uncovered evidence that Terry S. Elton falsified data in five published papers, all of which the university recommended be retracted. Elton has been barred from participation in federal studies for three years.

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Congress still has not reached a deal to avert the combination of tax increases and spending cuts -- collectively known as the "fiscal cliff" -- that go into effect Jan. 2. Either a compromise on long-term deficit reduction and tax reform, or the spending cuts that will go into effect if a deal is not reached, will have big implications for federal financial aid and scientific research, as well as other programs important to higher education.

The spending cuts, known as sequestration, are required by the Budget Control Act, the compromise that increased the federal borrowing limit in August 2011. If Congress does not reach a deal, most domestic discretionary programs will be cut by 8.2 percent, including funds for federal research and for some financial aid programs, such as federal work-study. (The Pell Grant is exempt from the cuts in 2013.)

Also on Jan. 2, several tax breaks related to higher education will expire, chief among them the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which currently provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 for college tuition for up to four years. If not renewed, the tuition credit will be limited to two years and will drop to $2,000. The limit for contributing to Coverdell education savings accounts wil drop from $2,000 to $500 per year, and student loan interest will not be deductible for higher earners.

But colleges have found something to fear in proposed compromises as well -- especially those that suggest limiting charitable deductions, part of President Obama's plan to increase tax revenue.

Even if Congress does not reach a deal in time, few expect immediate effects at colleges, as an agreement in 2013 is likely to be retroactive.

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Bobby Ukrop, a longtime supporter and trustee of the University of Richmond has quit the board amid debate over the institution's plan to replace soccer and track teams with lacrosse, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. He resigned after the board refused to reconsider the decision.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Official statistics from the National Collegiate Athletic Association suggest that steroid use is rare in college athletics. But an Associated Press investigation has found that many football players routinely gain 30 pounds or more of muscle a year, without any skepticism from their teams about possible steroid use. The investigation by the AP combined data on football players' weight with interviews with players and other experts, who described the ease with which athletes can escape detection for steroid use.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 4:18am

Carnegie Mellon police officers reported to Pittsburgh authorities that a threat had been made against Jared Cohon, the university's president, leading to 24-hour police presence at his home, The Tribune-Review reported. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspector, which investigates crimes committed through the mail, said that the agency is assisting in the investigation.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 4:20am

James E. Hunton, a prominent accounting professor at Bentley University, has resigned amid an investigation of the retraction of an article of which he was the co-author, The Boston Globe reported. A spokeswoman cited "family and health reasons" for the departure, but it follows the retraction of an article he co-wrote in the journal Accounting Review. The university is investigating the circumstances that led to the journal's decision to retract the piece.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Connie Shemo of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh explains the connection between the women’s foreign mission movement of the early twentieth century and two pioneering female doctors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Late Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed legislation aimed at requiring colleges to be more transparent about how they serve veterans. The bill, which was approved during gridlock on Capitol Hill, had received broad support from veterans' groups, for-profit institutions and advocates for traditional higher education. First introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican, the legislation was less sweeping than a related Senate bill that quickly stalled.


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