Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame explains the limitations of how poverty is measured in the United States. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The W.M. Keck Foundation will today announce a $150 million gift to the University of Southern California medical school and its affiliated hospitals, The Los Angeles Times reported. The money will be used to recruit top faculty members and to promote their research efforts. The gift is the university's third 9-figure gift in 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities in South Korea report that they have found the body of Lim Sang-gyu, president of Sunchon National University, dead in an apparent suicide, the Associated Press reported. Lim, a former government officials, was reportedly facing a corruption investigation.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal challenge to New Jersey's rejection of the state grant application of a U.S.-born student whose parents immigrated to the United States illegally, the Associated Press reported. The ACLU says that New Jersey's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, the state's aid agency, appears to be deviating from the legal norm of recognizing the rights of those born in the United States as citizens. The authority did not respond to questions, citing the ongoing litigation.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Remember how the Republican-led House of Representatives was going to eliminate earmarks? According to The Boston Globe, the House has allowed hundreds of millions of special authorizations (which in many ways resemble earmarks and which in many cases could benefit individual colleges and universities) to be inserted into the military spending bill. The authorizations are not as specific as earmarks and theoretically are open to competitions. But the Globe noted that many are written with language used by lawmakers to previously insert earmarks into the bills to benefit institutions in their districts, and that the language gives those institutions an apparent advantage, should the measures become law.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

John Wendell, an accounting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, suspects that the institution is spending too much on outside law firms, so he filed an open records request for three years of legal invoices. The Star-Advertiser reported that the university told him it would cost him $40,000 in fees -- and officials later said that the real bill might be $100,000. The university says that it faces real expenses in producing the records. But Wendell and other faculty critics say that the university is using the fees to discourage requests. "The university administration wants autonomy but not accountability. It's as simple as that," he said.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Medical students at the University of Alberta were thrilled with the speech their dean, Philip Baker, gave at a convocation banquet Friday -- at least until they found the speech online and apparently written by someone else, CBC News reported. A few phrases in the speech prompted students to do Internet searches and they say they found a nearly identical speech by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who spoke to Stanford University medical students last year. Gawande's speech was subsequently republished in The New Yorker and students said that one of the few changes made by Baker was leaving out a few lines about the U.S. Medicare system. Baker has not commented.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Robert Holub is not going quietly from the chancellor's position of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A university committee recommended that his contract not be renewed and news of that decision was leaked to The Boston Globe in May. Now, the Globe reported, Holub is demanding an investigation by the state attorney general into the leak, which he argues violated university regulations about confidentiality.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be awarding 4 of its 10 honorary doctorates at this month's commencement to scholars from Germany. One of them will go to Annette Schavan, the minister of education and research. While the university has awarded honorary degrees to Germans in the past, officials said that the number was unprecedented and reflected growing ties between German and Israeli universities.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted to recommend extending the recognition of three accrediting agencies Thursday, although the American Bar Association's accrediting arm proved controversial among the committee's members.

The committee, known as NACIQI, hears reports from Education Department staff members on accrediting agencies and votes on whether to recommend that the department continue to recognize them -- a significant task, since only students at institutions accredited by a federally recognized agency are eligible to receive federal financial aid. Thursday was the second day of NACIQI's three-day semiannual meeting.

As at the meeting Wednesday, when all agencies were granted at least a conditional extension of recognition, the committee made its recommendations despite evidence of problems in some agencies. Among the most concerning was the American Bar Association, which had 17 violations of department requirements -- not a remarkably high number in a season of increased scrutiny, but enough to give accreditors pause. The committee eventually voted 9 to 4 to extend recognition, and the agency is required to show within a year that it has fixed the areas of concern.

The agency extended similar conditional recognition to the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education before moving on to discuss its recommended revisions to the Higher Education Act when it comes up for amendment in 2013. The discussion focused on the regulatory burden of data collection. Committee members agreed that data collection for institutional self-improvement and for federal eligibility for student financial aid need to be decoupled, but without offering suggestions for how such a system might work.

The discussion continues at today's meeting.

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