Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Arkhat Abzhanov of Harvard University explains the developmental shift that could have allowed dinosaurs to evolve into modern birds. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal grand jury charged a man who lives in Dublin with sending dozens of bomb threats to the University of Pittsburgh this spring, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The threats led to considerable disruption and worry on the campus. The man who was indicted is in custody. Law enforcement authorities declined to speculate on the motive for all of the threats.

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The long, disturbing tale of the Rev. Mark Gruber and Saint Vincent College has apparently come to an end, with a Vatican-imposed penalty barring the former faculty member from the priesthood in response to allegations -- disputed by his supporters and by civil authorities -- that he downloaded child pornography. Gruber, a longtime and widely respected monk and professor of anthropology at the Benedictine college in Pennsylvania, was one of the few campus officials who publicly criticized leaders there during a governance controversy in 2008, reportedly angering the then-president, James Towey, and the Right Rev. Douglas Nowicki, who headed the board of the Saint Vincent Archabbey.

The following fall, college officials barred him from the campus and reported him to local police, saying they had found child pornography on a computer in a common area outside his office. The charges were dropped after police concluded that no images on the computer had been of men under the age of 18, and that the computer was in a common area and many people had access to it. The following year, another Saint Vincent employee came forward and took responsibility for having downloaded the images.

Despite the lack of evidence of wrongdoing by Gruber, Saint Vincent officials continued to push for his ouster as a priest through the Vatican. In a statement Tuesday, the Saint Vincent Archabbey said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had found him guilty of "canonical crimes" of possession of child pornography, "production of materials which gravely injury good morals; abuse of the Sacrament of Confession (but not a violation of the sacramental seal); and defamation of a legitimate superior." It ordered him to live the rest of his life in prayer and penitence in a residence chosen by the Vatican, barred him from "exercising any public priestly ministry," and restricted him from any contact with anyone under the age of 18.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 3:00am

The publishing and e-learning giant Pearson is starting a degree-awarding college in Britain, Times Higher Education reported. (In the United States, Pearson does not award postsecondary degrees.) Britain's government has stalled on the issue of letting for-profit companies award degrees entirely on their own. But Pearson's degrees will be validated by Royal Holloway of the University of London.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 3:00am

The latest ad from President Obama's campaign takes on Mitt Romney on college aid. The ad quotes from a statement in which Romney urged young people to borrow from their parents, and goes on to talk about the benefits of direct lending and the administration's commitment to student aid. The ad also accuses Romney of proposed deep cuts to student aid, although as The Washington Post noted, those possible cuts are based on Romney's overall tax and budget plans, not on specific, current proposals. A Romney spokesman told the Post that "Mitt Romney will encourage innovation and competition to make college more affordable, and his economic policies will give recent graduates the job opportunities they deserve."



Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Peter Meylan of Eckerd College reveals the long migrations that mark the lifecycle of the sea turtle. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 4:21am

Pennsylvania State University's accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, has told the university that its accreditation status is "in jeopardy" because of the issues raised in recent investigations of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the way officials responded to reports of child sexual abuse, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Penn State officials expressed confidence Monday that they would be able to demonstrate to Middle States that they have responded in appropriate ways to the failings identified in recent inquiries, and that accreditation should remain in place.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 4:23am

A student activities committee at Davidson College has banned serving Chick-fil-A at student events, pending a review of student opinion on the controversial restaurant chain, The Charlotte Observer reported. Students and others nationwide have been encouraging boycotts of Chick-fil-A because of statements by its president criticizing gay marriage. While many campuses have seen demands that Chick-fil-A campuses be kicked off campuses, that hasn't happened. In the case of Davidson, what is being suspended is bringing the food on campus for official student events organized by the committee, not removing a campus vendor.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jose Lopez of Seton Hall University explains the various uses for the little-known fourth state of matter, plasma. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 3:00am

These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar, to which campus and other officials can submit their own events. Our site also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education; please submit your news to both listings.


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