Six higher education groups are urging the U.S. Senate to pass long-delayed legislation this week to overhaul federal patent laws. In a letter to senators, the Association of American Universities and five other associations express their support for the measure, S. 23. The legislation would more closely align U.S. patent laws with those in Europe and Asia in several ways, including by granting patents for a particular innovation to the first inventor to file a patent for it, rather than, necessarily, to the creator of the innovation. An amendment is expected this week that would eliminate the legislation's "first-inventor-to-file" provision, which some lawmakers say would tilt the system against individual inventors and entrepreneurs. The college groups urge senators to reject the amendment.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has placed the University of California at Berkeley on two years’ probation for recruiting violations in its men’s basketball program. A Division I Committee on Infractions report released Friday reveals that the men’s basketball coaching staff made 365 “impermissible recruiting phone calls.” The report notes that the violations began shortly after the hiring of Coach Mike Montgomery and his staff in the spring of 2008. The university’s compliance office “acted quickly” to train the new coach and his staff about NCAA rules and “had processes in place to monitor recruiting telephone calls.” Reviewing these records in the fall of 2008, the compliance officer discovered these violations. In addition to the two years’ probation for the university, the NCAA limited to five the number of official paid visits the men’s basketball team can offer recruits for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
Sarah K. Foss, a 19-year-old Stetson University student, was arrested Thursday on charges of stalking and threatening to kill or harm one of her professors, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Authorities say that she apparently became infatuated with her professor and sent him a series of e-mail messages Thursday, including one that said, "If you upset me I will physically hurt you. You know I'm capable." Foss is being held in jail.
The University of California at San Diego, which had several racial incidents last year, has had another. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that someone hit "reply all" on an administrative e-mail sent to all students (theoretically something that none of the e-mail recipients should have been able to do), made "penis" the subject line and "NIGGERS" the entire message text. Black student leaders say that the mass e-mail shows that the university's efforts to assure tolerance have not gone far enough.
A Texas State University student has founded a new group dedicated to raising money for scholarships for white males. The Former Majority Association for Equality says on its website that its goal is to "financially assist young Americans seeking higher education who lack opportunities in similar organizations that are based upon race or gender. In a country that proclaims equality for all, we provide monetary aid to those that have found the scholarship application process difficult because they do not fit into certain categories or any ethnic group." The group says that it will award five $500 scholarships on July 4. Colby Bohannan, the founder of the group, told The Austin American-Statesman that he noticed many scholarships for female or minority students, but none reserved for white men. "I felt excluded," he said. "If everyone else can find scholarships, why are we left out?"
In the latest fallout from the British government's decision to raise tuition substantially at the country's universities, a leading secondary school there is encouraging its students to apply to foreign universities, The New York Times reported. Students are looking abroad both to save money and because of a shortage of slots this year in entering classes.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut has proposed that his budget office review all non-faculty hiring by the state's public colleges and universities, The Mirror reported. "It's an added control mechanism that we make sure we are actually spending as much money as we possibly can in classrooms as opposed to in administration positions," the governor said. Higher education officials are opposing the idea, saying that it would cause needless delays.
Many Australian academics worry that the availability of online tools is encouraging more students to skip class, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The article cites professors who talk about lots of empty chairs in their classes -- and there are surveys to back up their impressions. One survey found that 19 percent of students spend more than 20 hours on campus each week, down from 32 percent in 1994.
Research published Sunday in the journal BMC Public Health finds that higher levels of education are correlated with lower blood pressure and lower incidence of other factors -- such as smoking and weight gain -- associated with health problems.