Swarthmore College is offering a special service for Spanish-speaking family members of graduates. They will be able to use wireless headsets to receive simultaneous translation of the commencement ceremony into Spanish, the Associated Press reported. Students suggested the idea as a way to enable all family members to follow the events.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Two members of Congress -- Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican -- are asking the College Board and ACT for more information about the policies they have to protect the privacy of those who take the SAT or ACT, Bloomberg reported. The lawmakers note that the associations not only collect names of test-takers, but also sell the names to colleges seeking potential applicants. Officials of the two testing companies said that they hadn't received the information requests, and so couldn't comment on them.
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal this week upheld the right of the University of Victoria to evict a man who had been living in a campus apartment for 20 years, long after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1997, The Vancouver Sun reported. Alkis Gerd'son, the long-term resident, had argued that the university had no right to evict him because he has a mental disability, but the tribunal rejected his argument.
Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican known for his efforts to limit federal spending, on Thursday issued a report attacking the National Science Foundation for "waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement." The report details various grants (mostly in the social sciences) that Coburn finds hard to justify. A statement from Coburn said that the NSF plays a role in key discoveries but that much of its spending "contributes to our debt rather than science." Coburn is a long-time critic of social science research at the NSF -- in 2009, he tried without success to ban political science research from receiving NSF support. An NSF statement about the report said: "The National Science Foundation is renowned for its gold-standard approach to peer review of each of the more than 40,000 proposals it receives each year, While no agency is without flaws, NSF has been diligent about addressing concerns from members of Congress about workforce and grant management issues, and NSF's excellent record of tracking down waste and prosecuting wrongdoing is apparent from Senator Coburn's report. We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment."
The University of Michigan has agreed to pay Andrei Borisov, a former non-tenured faculty member in pediatrics, $550,000, and to remove certain negative statements from his personnel file, to settle his suit against the university, AnnArbor.com reported. Borisov had resigned in 2008, after being told that his behavior was seen as threatening, following inquiries he had been making into possible plagiarism in reports to federal agencies that made grants to Michigan. The university denied wrongdoing in those cases.
California's public higher education systems have agreed to drop opposition to a state bill that will require much more disclosure of records about their foundations and auxiliary operations. However, the colleges and universities have been assured of provisions that will preserve in most cases the right of donors to be anonymous. With the agreement, the bill is expected to be enacted.
A state judge has ordered the University of Virginia to release documents produced by Michael Mann, who formerly taught there, to a conservative foundation requesting them as open records, The Washington Examiner reported. Mann is a climate researcher whose work is consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change, but who is doubted by some conservatives. In an e-mail, Mann said: "I think it's very unfortunate that fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers ... continue to harass U.Va., NASA, and other leading academic and scientific institutions with these frivolous attacks."
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