Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Susan Su, the president of Tri-Valley University, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that the institution was a sham university operated as a front to help non-Americans obtain U.S. visas, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Authorities said that Su accepted funds -- allegedly for tuition -- in return for visa assistance, not for education.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:00am

It's now complete: all five of the varsity teams that the University of California at Berkeley planned to kill or downgrade for financial reasons will now survive for the foreseeable future. The university announced last fall that it would eliminate four teams (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse) and change the status of rugby so that it was no longer a full-fledged varsity team. But in February, Berkeley said that alumni had raised enough money to restore rugby, women's gymnastics and lacrosse. A similar announcement about baseball came last month, and Monday, the university said that it had raised $2.5 million for gymnastics -- enough to keep the program alive for at least seven years with some budget cuts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:00am

A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews, The Seattle Times reported. The study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering -- students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison voted Monday to support the proposal backed by Chancellor Biddy Martin and Gov. Scott Walker that would give the university "public authority" status and split it from the rest of the Wisconsin university system, The Capital Times reported. The vote came on the same day that a cadre of Madison professors came out against the proposal, which they said would undermine the university's support for low- and middle-income students.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department has decided to intervene in a lawsuit alleging that Education Management Corp. violated federal law barring incentive compensation for recruiters, the company announced Monday. Qui tam lawsuits, as they are known, are filed under the federal False Claims Act by an individual who believes he or she has identified fraud committed against the federal government, and who sues hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice Department. Interventions by the Justice Department, which in this instance came in a case filed in a Pennsylvania federal court, are rare, though. Education Management, which operates the Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University, among others, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expected several states to join the qui tam action alleging violations of their state False Claims Acts, too.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Amar Bose, the founder of the company with his name that makes high-end audio products, has donated a majority of the corporation's stock to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stipulating that MIT will benefit from dividends, but will not vote on company direction. The New York Times reported that the gift has raised the eyebrows of some tax experts, who note that MIT cannot vote or sell the stock. Some experts told The Times that more detail should be released on the gift, and that it may not be fair to call it a full gift, given the limits on MIT's use of the stock.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

President Obama used a commencement speech Friday at Miami Dade College to renew support for legislation that would create a path to U.S. citizenship for college graduates who were brought to the United States as children without documentation to live in the country. Republicans blocked passage of the legislation last year, and Obama acknowledged the political difficulties facing a similar bill this year.

"I know this last issue generates some passion. I know that several young people here have recently identified themselves as undocumented. Some were brought here as young children, and discovered the truth only as adults. And they’ve put their futures on the line in hopes it will spur the rest of us to live up to our most cherished values," he said. "I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system. Fix it so that it meets our 21st-century economic and security needs. And I want to work with Democrats and Republicans, yes, to protect our borders, and enforce our laws, and address the status of millions of undocumented workers. And I will keep fighting alongside many of you to make the DREAM Act the law of the land."

Also at the ceremonies, Obama received his first honorary associate degree.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Holly Tucker of Vanderbilt University explains early modern Europe's cultural resistance to attempts at blood transfusion. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Last month's corrections to the National Research Council's controversial rankings of doctoral programs turned out not to fix all the errors. As early as today, the NRC will be announcing additional corrections. Data on time-to-degree and completion rates for programs in the history of art, architecture and archaeology were incorrect in the "corrected" version of the database posted last month. A spokeswoman said that the data for 57 programs have been changed as a result of discovering the error. In another correction, data for a number of Harvard University programs on "tenured faculty as a percentage of total faculty" were incorrect and are being fixed.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The tornado devastation that hit Tuscaloosa last week largely ravaged non-campus areas of the Alabama college town, but it has resulted in the deaths of two students -- one from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and one from Stillman College. The campuses in town are reopening some functions today, but also have called off or delayed final exams and commencement ceremonies, given the destruction in the area. Here are links to the updates from Tuscaloosa colleges:

The impact is also being felt beyond Tuscaloosa. The University of Alabama at Huntsville, for example, is closed until Wednesday, and final exams have been suspended, because of continuing power outages.

Sunday was the official date for college applicants to let institutions that have admitted them know whether they will enroll, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling is urging institutions to be flexible in dealing with students and institutions from areas that have been hit by the natural disasters in the last week.

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