Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 3, 2013

Following more than a month of resounding protest from students, faculty and staff, the sponsor and planned namesake for Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium has withdrawn, FAU announced Tuesday, leaving the university to find a replacement for the private prison company GEO Group (the GEO Group Foundation was the official donor) and the $6 million its founder had pledged toward the project. Protesters had criticized the management and inmate and employee treatment at prisons run by GEO, whose chairman is a Florida Atlantic graduate and former trustee.

FAU is technically out nothing yet in terms of dollars, Athletics Director Pat Chun said in an interview Tuesday. But as the university looks at its budget for next year, which it’s in the process of setting, there’s a hole where $500,000 should have been accounted for. (This would have been the first of 12 payments. About half of the $75 million stadium was financed with debt and in need of repayment.) Asked how long until the change in plans causes a serious financial problem, Chun said, “We’re probably there now,” but said the university will go "back to square one" to get it taken care of.

GEO’s withdrawal does have a financial benefit for the university’s academic side, however; officials said the company the company, or the founder? *** all I've seen says it's the company but the CEO is the one commenting about it. George Zoley. will donate $500,000 toward scholarships, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

April 2, 2013

Oberlin College marked April 1 by letting kittens take over its website. The site should be back to normal today, but the college has archived the kittens of Meowberlin College here.

April 2, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Lisa Aziz-Zadeh of the University of Southern California explains how the brain behaves differently while observing someone we dislike. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 2, 2013

Many colleges in Florida — and potentially other states, including California and Texas — could lose eligibility for their students to receive federal financial aid under a new interpretation of the Education Department's "state authorization" rule. While the rule will not be enforced for distance education, it still requires colleges to be licensed in their own state. The Education Department is currently interpreting the rule in a way that disqualifies state licensure by means of accreditation — a process that allows colleges to bypass the ordinary licensure process and be granted state approval based on their accreditation status.

The Education Department sent letters to several Florida colleges in recent weeks, warning them that licensure by means of accreditation is not sufficient to comply with the state authorization rule. The states and the Education Department have until July 1 to resolve the dispute. At that time, all colleges must be in compliance with the department's program integrity rules, including state authorization.

 

April 2, 2013

Huajun Zhao, an associate researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has been charged with economic espionage, accused of stealing research data and materials for a cancer-fighting compound, The Milwaukee Journal reported. Zhao was arrested Saturday and remains held without bail. The charges are based on video of Zhao in a professor's laboratory and searches of his computer hard drive, where he had materials related to the research in question. Zhao also had plane tickets to China for use today. His lawyer told the Journal: "In this earliest stage of a complex case involving a talented professional accused of a serious crime, we look forward to rolling up our sleeves on Dr. Zhao's behalf."

April 2, 2013

President Obama will today announce a $100 million initiative to invent and improve technologies to understand the brain, The New York Times reported. Officials are comparing the effort's ambition and potential impact to that of the Human Genome Project. Part of the plan is to require study of the ethical implications of the new technologies and new research that could be enabled.

 

April 2, 2013

Vanity Fair and "60 Minutes" have released a poll of the public on alma maters. Among the findings:

  • Only 32 percent of adults can name the president or dean of their alma mater.
  • Asked about the SAT, 39 percent called the test "a necessary evil," while 23 percent called it a "successful equalizer."
  • Only 34 percent could name Illinois as the state where you can find Northwestern University. (Washington State was picked by 17 percent, Michigan by 11 percent and Oregon by 6 percent).
  • Asked what they wished they had done more of in college, 48 percent said studying, 40 percent said networking, 4 percent said sex and 1 percent said drugs.

 

April 1, 2013

Jerry Falwell Jr., the chancellor of Liberty University, is denying a report that the institution and its students are becoming more liberal. New York magazine reported that opposition to gay marriage used to be a united political belief at the university. But over the last week, while two Supreme Court cases about gay marriage captured national attention, the university was quiet on the issue and some students said that there were a range of opinions on the issue.

But the day after that article ran, Falwell sent a letter to the author of the article, stating that Liberty remains a conservative institution, even if the political mood has changed a bit. "[M]ost of our faculty, staff and students are very conservative politically and theologically. I do not see that changing at all," he write. "For example, in Liberty’s voting precinct, Romney won 93 percent of the vote and that precinct had, by far, the highest turnout in the area. Students still are very much pro-life and pro-traditional marriage just like they have always been and the ones who voted for Romney indicated those two issues were the main reasons they supported Romney over Obama. The only shift I have noticed in recent years has been more support among conservative Christians, especially young ones, for libertarians. In Virginia, only Romney and Ron Paul were on the ballot in the Republican primary and Ron Paul won at the campus precinct. So, if anything, our students are becoming more conservative on the issue of limiting the size and scope of government while remaining conservative on the social issues."

 

April 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sam Sommers of Tufts University demonstrates how our behavior is often influenced by the context of our daily lives.  Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 1, 2013

Proposed legislation in France would ease restrictions on offering university courses in English, The Connexion reported. Currently, courses must be in French unless they are courses to teach a non-French language or offered by a visiting academic from outside France. Some educators want the option of teaching other courses in English to attract more British and American students. Many universities in European countries that are not primarily English-speaking are adding such courses. But leading French writers have launched a campaign calling the proposed changes "insulting," and the Académie Française has said that any change would "harm the status of the French language in universities."

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