Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined a small company $120,000 for selling charter flights to college athletics teams without the legal authority to do so. According to an order issued by the federal agency, Global Airlines Services (whose website no longer appears to be operational; a cached version of the site can be found here) and its owner, Harold J. Pareti, contracted with universities to transport their sports teams, and then arranged for actual airline carriers to provide the service -- even though Global "did not hold proper authority" from the Transportation Department to broker such arrangements.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled 7-2 that a pharmaceutical company did not infringe a Stanford University patent on a technology that measures the concentration of HIV in blood plasma -- a result that higher education groups have warned would undercut the federal government's 30-year-old system for determining who owns the rights to inventions created using federal funds. The court's ruling came in a case known as Stanford v. Roche. Coverage to follow on Inside Higher Ed tomorrow.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Hocking College voted Friday to end the presidency of Ron Erickson that day, The Columbus Dispatch reported. While board members did not discuss the rationale behind their decision, Erickson had predicted the outcome. He has accused the board of trying to micromanage the two-year Ohio college. Board members previously said they were surprised that Erickson went public with his criticisms. The relationship between Erickson and the board seemed doomed from the start, as even the search that resulted in his hiring was contested.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The Alabama Legislature has passed legislation, expected soon to be signed into law, that would bar students without the legal documentation to be in the United States from enrolling at public colleges in the United States. The measure is part of a far-reaching bill -- receiving attention for going beyond even Arizona's controversial immigration law. Many states bar undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates -- and such policies effectively bar students from enrolling because these students don't qualify for government student aid and rarely have the financial resources to afford out-of-state rates. Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston and an expert of higher education and immigration law, said that there has "never been any evidence" that undocumented students in any way restrict the access of other students. He said that the Alabama bill exemplified "mean-spiritedness."

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has finished a 90-year project to create a dictionary of Assyrian, The Chicago Tribune reported. Since 1921, 88 scholars have worked on the 21-volume, 28,000-word dictionary. The institute will sell the dictionary for $1,400 a set.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Fourteen academic luminaries -- among them A.C. Grayling, Richard Dawkins, Ronald Dworkin, Niall Ferguson and Steven Pinker -- have announced the creation of the New College of the Humanities, which will be affiliated with the University of London. The new college promises many things that critics fear are disappearing from British universities, such as close student-faculty interaction and an emphasis on the humanities. Tuition will be 18,000 pounds a year (nearly $30,000), or twice the charges at the most expensive British public universities.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Students who pay extra fees for online course material at California community colleges may be entitled to refunds on the fees, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Fees charged by publishers for online materials are common in higher education, and college officials have defended them in California. But the dispute in California -- prompted by a student grievance -- concerns a state regulation that fees for instructional material provide students with "tangible personal property." Under that measure, the fee would be legal if students could download and store the online material, but they can't.

Friday, June 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Washington State's ethics board plans to fine a former professor at Evergreen State College nearly $120,000 for allegedly misappropriating payments that students made to participate on a study abroad trip in Chile, The Olympian reported. The former instructor, Jorge Gilbert, was placed on leave in 2009 and eventually resigned amid an investigation by the state auditor into charges that Gilbert could not account for up to $50,000 in fees paid by students. According to the newspaper, the penalty to be imposed by the Executive Ethics Board today will require him to make restitution to the students and pay fines for multiple violations of state ethics laws.

Friday, June 3, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department published a final version Thursday of its controversial rules requiring vocational programs to prove that they are preparing graduates for "gainful employment." And while advocates for the colleges, Wall Street analysts, consumer advocates and members of Congress weighed in with widely varying interpretations of the wisdom and the likely impact of the regulations, nothing spoke louder than the reaction of Wall Street investors. Driven by the widespread sense of investor analysts and for-profit critics alike that the rules had been softened considerably from an earlier version, stocks of the 13 publicly traded higher education companies tracked by Bloomberg rose by 12 percent, the sharpest upturn since 2005, The Los Angeles Times reported. For a guide to the new rules, see this related article.

Friday, June 3, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stonehill College's Ron Leone discusses the process of ratings creep and the increasing level of violence in popular films. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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