The National Institutes of Health plans to sharply restrict its use of chimpanzees in biomedical research studies and retire most of the animals it now supports, adopting most of the recommendations emerging from a several-year study of the issue. Agency officials said they would retain (but not breed) several dozen chimpanzees for future research that meets rigorous guidelines set forth in a 2010 study by the Institute of Medicine. “Americans have benefited greatly from the chimpanzees’ service to biomedical research, but new scientific methods and technologies have rendered their use in research largely unnecessary,” Francis S. Collins, the NIH director, said in a statement. “Their likeness to humans has made them uniquely valuable for certain types of research, but also demands greater justification for their use. After extensive consideration with the expert guidance of many, I am confident that greatly reducing their use in biomedical research is scientifically sound and the right thing to do.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
George Pernsteiner, who led Oregon's university system for nearly a decade, has been named to succeed Paul Lingenfelter as president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The association represents the leaders of the public higher education systems in their states.
Babson College will today formally apologize to Brandeis University for an anti-Semitic incident in 1978, The Boston Globe reported. When the two institutions competed in a soccer game that year, some Babson players placed a sign in their gym that said "Happy Holocaust," while others wore swastikas to practice and yelled "Holocaust" and anti-Semitic phrases at one another. In addition to apologizing, Babson will work with the Anti-Defamation League to train students to study and oppose anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.
About 1,400 recent graduates of Radford University will be receiving new diplomas because the ones the university handed out had two spelling errors, The Virginian-Pilot reported. An "i" was missing in "Virginia" and an "e" was missing in "thereto." Officials said that the errors were introduced when a software upgrade required that the university retype the words to be used on diplomas.
Colleges have special responsibilities to support young parents and pregnant students under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday. The letter is an update and expansion of previous guidance issued on the topic in 1991. The letter cites studies saying that only 2 percent of women who had a child before the age of 18 earned a degree by 30, and notes that Title IX prohibits discrimination of these students in any educational program, including extracurricular activities. OCR sent the letter -- along with a pamphlet of guidelines, strategies and best practices to support pregnant and parenting -- to all colleges.
Moody’s has downgraded the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s credit outlook to negative on account of a major lawsuit threatening the future finances of the NCAA, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities," the Moody’s report said. The lawsuit in question is is currently awaiting class action certification. Led by former University of California at Los Angeles basketball player Ed O’Bannon, the lawsuit, which is currently awaiting class action certification, argues that current and former athletes are entitled to some of the revenue that universities, the NCAA and other parties make by promoting images of those students. An NCAA spokeswoman said she the association does not anticipate any "substantive issues" based on the Moody's report, as it is a long-term projection and the NCAA's financial rating did not change.
(Note: This headline and article have been updated from a previous version.)
The Association of American Universities on Tuesday announced that eight of its members would serve as project sites for a five-year effort to improve the quality of undergraduate education in science, technology and engineering and mathematics. Each campus will start a major undergraduate STEM education initiative, based on principles that the AAU is pushing for "evidence-based teaching practices." Details may be found here.
Have enrollments in traditional liberal arts fields dropped? Debates over the issue turn up everywhere, and Nate Silver -- the popular New York Times analyst of polling and statistics -- has taken up the issue. He argues that it all depends how you frame the question. If you ask whether certain majors are less popular, you may find that they are relative to other majors. But part of that is because the college population has expanded over time, with many of those going to college -- who might not have in earlier generations -- picking practical majors. But if you look at the percentage of all college students majoring in a given field, you may get a different figure. So, for example, English majors as a share of all majors have fallen in recent years, but English majors as a percentage of all college students have been relatively constant.
More than half of all student loan borrowers are concerned they will be unable to repay their debt, according to a paper released today by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, using data from the 2012 National Financial Capability survey. The report found that 57 percent of all student loan debtors are concerned about repayment, and 9 percent of student loan borrowers never attended college at all — either because they borrowed for vocational certificates or because they borrowed on behalf of family members.