Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, August 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The Rev. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, president of Ateneo de Manila University, a Roman Catholic institution in the Philippines, has issued a statement different from the more than 192 faculty members who jointly have endorsed legislation in that country that would make contraception more widely available. The president's statement said that the bill could "weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values." He said that he respected the faculty members' "social compassion," but he urged them to "continue in their discernment of the common good." Further he asked them to be sure that "the Catholic position" on the issue be taught in classes.

 

Friday, August 24, 2012 - 4:30am

Sri Lanka's government has shut down almost all of the nation's universities, BBC reported. Faculty members have been on strike at the university, and government officials blamed the professors for turmoil on campuses, saying that they were giving students "darkness, without any hope." Academics say that they have been on strike and protesting over government plans to privatize some of higher education, and over political interference in campus decisions.

 

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin is in negotiations about joining two prominent organizations that offer MOOCs (or massive open online courses), The Texas Tribune reported. The two are Coursera and edX. Texas officials said that the outcome of the negotiations could be announced in a few weeks.

 

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Regent University announced Wednesday that it plans to filed a trademark complaint against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia for naming two merged institutions Georgia Regents University, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Before the Georgia regents voted on the name, Regent University expressed concern about the plan. The Georgia system declined to comment. Georgia Regents University combines Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences Universities.

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A recently released poll of education leaders, including lawmakers and current and former Education Department staff, found that most think Mitt Romney's selection of Representative Paul Ryan as a running mate isn't terribly significant for education -- except for the future of the Pell Grant. "Education is not Paul Ryan's thing and he's not likely to focus on it," said one respondent, according to Whiteboard Advisors, which released the poll Wednesday. But because Ryan's budget would force changes to Pell, several suggested that program -- for better or worse -- could be a policy focus in a Romney/Ryan administration.

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Graham Spanier, who was forced out as president of Pennsylvania State University over the Jerry Sandusky scandal, has given his first extensive interview since the turmoil became public, telling The New Yorker about his friendly relations with the late Joe Paterno and what he knew (or maintains he didn't know) about what Sandusky did. Spanier disputes many of the findings of the Freeh Report, which was commissioned by the university, and says he was not told of the seriousness of the allegations against Sandusky in the now-infamous shower incident. Spanier also suggests that the university's leaders erred in largely endorsing the findings of the Freeh Report, which he predicts will be found to be inaccurate in key ways.

 

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A Christian college in Minnesota has joined a coalition opposing an amendment to that state's constitution to ban gay marriage. Augsburg College, associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, announced Tuesday that it had joined Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of organizations working to defeat the proposed amendment. (Minnesota state law does not allow gay marriage.) Minnesota state law allows organizations with nonprofit status, including colleges, to weigh in on ballot measures.

Augsburg is the second college to publicly oppose the amendment, although faculty members at other colleges have also spoken out against it. Capella University, a for-profit college, announced Aug. 3 that it opposed the amendment. "Capella is a stronger place because of our diversity, and we have made an intentional effort to create a workplace that is supportive of families of all backgrounds," the company's chairman and chief executive officer, Kevin Gilligan, said in a statement at the time. "Just as importantly, I am very concerned that this amendment will have a negative impact on the ability of Minnesota companies to attract and retain talented employees."

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

"No loans" policies -- in which students with family incomes below certain levels receive grants in place of loans --have resulted in colleges that adopted them seeing gains in the percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants, says a report being released today by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Private institutions saw a 1.7 percentage point average gain in Pell-eligible students, while publics saw a 1.3 percentage point increase. While the report praises these programs, it also identifies dangers in them. "When well-publicized, these programs have the potential to generate greater interest among high-achieving low-income students," the report says. "When this occurs, enrollment management professionals may be tempted to use these aid programs as a marketing strategy that simply drums up interest among the highest-achieving low-income students. As a result of this increased demand, opportunistic colleges may try to 'skim' the top low-income students without actually changing the total proportion of low-income students on campus."

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The former University of Nebraska women’s basketball player who told police last month that three men broke into her house, pinned her down and carved anti-gay slurs on her body faked the attack, officers said Tuesday. Charlie Rogers, a lesbian who holds the Cornhusker record for second-most blocked shots ever at the university, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to filing a false police report, but officers told the Associated Press the attack was a hoax in which Rogers cut her own chest, legs, buttocks and abdomen. In identifying a motive, police pointed to this message Rogers had posted on her Facebook page four days earlier: "So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me.” Like many of the fake hate crimes put on by college students looking to make a political statement or meet some personal ends, Rogers’s hoax prompted broad, public support for the alleged victim. Rogers’s lawyer said the former player stands by her report, which she made amid a local debate over a proposed city ordinance that would ban discrimination against LGBT people, and “has no reason to lie about what happened.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bill Ripple of Oregon State University explains the important role large predators play in the health of any ecosystem. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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