Businesses owned by two trustees of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board were awarded contracts for nearly $14 million from system universities in the last five years, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Guido Pichini, one of the trustees, said that there was nothing wrong with the practice. "They went through the bidding process without me. I don’t oversee any of the contracts," he said. Celestino Pennoni, the other trustee, did not respond to requests for comment.
Higher Education Quick Takes
On the last business day before the interest rate was scheduled to double on new federally subsidized student loans, Congress approved a bill to keep the interest rate at 3.4 percent for another year. The extension, which cost about $6 billion, was included as part of a highway bill that passed both houses with large majorities.
However, some changes to the student loan program took effect Sunday. Subsidized loans for graduate students, cut last August in the deal to increase the federal debt ceiling, are no longer available. And the "grace period" on subsidized undergraduate loans -- under which the government paid the interest for six months after students left college -- has been eliminated as well.
Also, students receiving Pell Grants lose eligibility after 12 semesters, not 18 -- including those already in the program who have passed the limit.
International applications at top universities in Hong Kong are seeing sharp increases, The New York Times reported. Foreign applications are up 55 percent at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 50 percent at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and 42 percent at the University of Hong Kong. (Most universities in Hong Kong keep separate statistics for those from Hong Kong, from the rest of China, and the rest of the world, so these are figures for that latter category.)
Marilyn Haring, dean of the College of Education at Purdue University from 1991 to 2001, is so upset by the university's selection of Governor Mitch Daniels as the next president that she has removed a $1 million bequest from her will, The Journal and Courier reported. Haring cited the governor's lack of experience in academe. "I regard the appointment of Mr. Daniels as a travesty and insult to academics," she said. Haring added that "his record is a political one, not an academic one. Purdue has been widely respected for its many academic accomplishments by faculty, professional staff, students, and alumni — not for its politics." Purdue officials have said that they originally sought a president with an academic background, but came to believe Daniels could do the most to advance the university.
New e-mail records suggest that Joe Paterno, the late head football coach at Pennsylvania State University, may have influenced the decision by the university not to report allegations of possible sexual abuse of a child by Jerry Sandusky, who last month was convicted of dozens of counts of such abuse, The New York Times reported. The e-mail records suggest that senior Penn State officials -- after receiving a report of inappropriate behavior by Sandusky -- were considering reporting him. But the records suggest that, after one official talked to Paterno, that plan was abandoned.
The University of California at Santa Cruz on Friday opened an exhibit showcasing some of its Grateful Dead archive, and The Los Angeles Times reported that the display is already being called "Dead Central." Interest from the public and scholars is high. Archivist Nicholas Meriwether was hired from a pool of more than 400. Meriwether, who is 47, said he could spend the rest of his life documenting for the archive the many items that keep arriving.
New Jersey legislators on Thursday approved a plan that would merge most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers University, and that would form a partnership (though short of a full merger) between Rutgers at Camden and Rowan University, The Star-Ledger reported. Governor Chris Christie has pushed for the changes (and a full merger between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan). but many have questioned the latter proposal in particular.
As the Waldo Canyon fire continues to ravage Colorado Springs, some area colleges are taking steps to protect students and personnel against potential harm and provide support for those who have already been affected. According to a news release posted late Wednesday night, the U.S. Air Force Academy has relocated about 550 cadets off its grounds -- about 200 summer academics cadets moved to the nearby University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and the other 350 cadets who were participating in training programs were released to their local sponsor families. In-processing for class of 2016 cadets, slated to begin Thursday, will continue as scheduled, but all other base operations are closed. According to releases from earlier in the day, no structures on campus are threatened by the fire. Residents from two housing areas were ordered to evacuate Tuesday as a precaution due to the unpredictability of the fire.
Residence halls at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs -- which accepted some Air Force Academy evacuees -- are at capacity and can no longer accept evacuees, according to an update posted Thursday morning on the university’s website. Classes, activities and offices continue to operate on normal schedules. The Air Force Academy and another area college, Pikes Peak Community College, have also found ways to contribute to the firefighting effort. The academy canceled its normal cadet flying training and opened its airfield for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management helicopter operations.
Pikes Peak's student government organized a donation drive for evacuees and was collecting items -- they requested snack items, clothing in good condition, cereal, quick meal items and pet food -- all day Tuesday and Wednesday.
A federal official has recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reverse its decision to provide tens of millions of dollars to help the University of Iowa replace three buildings that were damaged in 2008 flooding, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported. The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an audit this week recommending that Homeland Security officials not provide $83 million in funds to replace three buildings that have been part of the university's efforts to rebuild in the wake of devastating floods. The audit was prompted by a complaint that FEMA should have repaired rather than replaced the buildings. Iowa officials said they were hopeful that Homeland Security administrators would reject the inspector general's recommendation, the newspaper reported.