U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Wednesday stayed a federal appeals court's order requiring Boston College researchers to turn over oral history transcripts to the British government, citing the scholars' planned appeal to the high court, The Boston Globe reported. Ruling in July in a case involving research into the violence in Northern Ireland during the period known as the "Troubles," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded that concerns about confidentiality, academic freedom and scholarly research could not trump government's interest in investigating crime.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A number of students at Mercer University are upset about the appearance on campus of fliers calling for November or December to be declared "White History Month," The Macon Telegraph reported. "It is just as fair to have White History Month/s as it is to have Black History Month/s. How much will you bet that there will be controversy over this?” the fliers said. The university doesn't know who put them up, and is encouraging students to engage in discussions of issues in ways other than anonymous leaflets.
Tuesday night's presidential debate started out with a question about higher education, as a college student asked President Obama and Mitt Romney about his employment prospects after graduation. Obama went over what his administration has done on higher education, including the changes to the federal student loan program that added new funding to Pell Grants.
Romney said he expected the Pell Grant program to continue growing if he were to become president, a reversal from previous statements, when he said he'd try to change eligibility rules to limit the program's growth. He also said that, in seeking to change the tax code, he might cap the amount of credits or deductions taxpayers could take rather than seeking to eliminate specific benefits, including tax benefits for college tuition.
Education advisers to both campaigns have held debates of their own in the past few days. At a debate at the American Enterprise Institute between Jon Schnur, executive chairman of America Achieves and an adviser to the Obama campaign, and Martin West, an assistant professor of education at Harvard and an adviser to the Romney campaign, West said the administration's regulations on for-profit colleges unfairly targeted the sector. In response to a question about affirmative action, Schnur said the president does not believe in quotas but does believe in diversity.
Nine current and former employees of Northern Illinois University have been charged with felony theft over accusations that they sold university scrap materials and deposited the funds in a private bank account, The Chicago Tribune reported. The employees allegedly referred to the bank account as the "coffee fund."
The Apollo Group on Tuesday announced that it was closing 90 of the University of Phoenix's satellite learning centers and 25 of its campuses, leaving 112 remaining locations. The closures are part of a "re-engineering initiative" that the company said will help the bottom line by 2014. About 13,000 students, or 4 percent of those pursuing degrees at Phoenix, will be affected by the shuttering of locations. But those students will continue to be served online and at alternative sites, according to the company.
The news accompanied the release of Apollo's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, with a 10 percent decline in annual revenue and a 15 percent dip in enrollment at Phoenix. The company also announced the elimination of 800 jobs, but not faculty positions. Phoenix last week introduced a tuition freeze for current and incoming students.
Dinesh D'Souza, president of the King's College, the evangelical Christian college in the Empire State Building, is under review by the college's board of trustees after a Christian magazine reported that he spent the night at a book signing event with a woman he referred to as his "fiancée" -- not his wife of 20 years. World magazine reported that D'Souza and the woman shared a hotel room; at the time, he hadn't yet filed for divorce from his wife. D'Souza later told the magazine, in a text message, that he'd broken off the engagement.
In a statement, the college's board of trustees said it had been aware of some of the trouble in D'Souza's marriage, but not of all of the details, and when the board learned of the magazine's report, members immediately met with D'Souza in a special session. The board is still investigating the situation and will have a statement soon, college spokesman Matthias Clock told Inside Higher Ed.
"We take seriously our charge to teach a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible and expect all of our leaders to model Christian character and integrity in their public and private lives," the board said in its statement.
D'Souza, the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage, which posits that the president is motivated by "anti-colonial ideology," is a prominent figure in campus conservative movements. As a student at Dartmouth College, he helped found the conservative Dartmouth Review and later wrote Illiberal Education, a critique of what he viewed as too much political correctness in higher education.
Hobsons on Tuesday announced its purchase of Beat the GMAT, a large social network of applicants to M.B.A. programs. Hobsons already owns College Confidential, a large social network for undergraduate applicants. But the company has been expanding its work in the professional admissions space through such measures as Tuesday's acquisition and last year's purchase of Intelliworks.
The chairman of the board that governs Connecticut's public four- and two-year colleges has rescinded a proposed buyout that officials of the public-college system purportedly offered to presidents of the state's community colleges last month. That incident, which infuriated some of the two-year-college leaders, triggered a series of events that led to the resignations of the top two officials of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, President Robert A. Kennedy and Michael Meotti, the executive vice president. "The Board has not authorized any such arrangement and to the extent such an arrangement was offered at that time or thereafter, it is hereby rescinded," Lewis J. Robinson, chairman of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, said in an e-mailed statement late Tuesday.
The chair of Britain's Association of Business Schools has criticized that government's spending focus on science and technology disciplines over all others, Times Higher Education reported. Angus Laing, the chair, and also the dean of business and economics at Loughborough University, said that STEM disciplines had achieved "totemic status" in government, but that other fields needed support as well. "While these STEM disciplines are necessary conditions for innovation, for a flourishing knowledge based economy, they are far from sufficient," he said at the association's annual meeting.
"Britain has a fine and proud research tradition in STEM. We unquestionably punch above our weight. Yet in commercializing innovations, in business development, in building global-scale industry leaders and brands, we lag behind our international rivals," Laing added. Business schools should be seen not as "institutional cash generators" but as "innovation generators for society," he said.