Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Harvard University's medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital have punished three professors -- including Joseph Biederman, for many years an influential child psychiatrist -- for conflicts of interest, The Boston Globe reported. Biederman and his colleagues -- Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens -- revealed the action in a letter to colleagues. The Harvard investigation was prompted by a Senate probe that questioned whether Biederman and others were reporting consulting fees they received from pharmaceutical companies at a time they were publishing articles about the use of various drugs. The letter from the three professors said that they had made "honest" mistakes but that they “now recognize that we should have devoted more time and attention to the detailed requirements of these policies and to their underlying objectives.’’

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 3:00am

A Virginia jury on Thursday ruled that 16 former students who sued Virginia Western Community College are entitled to more than $50,000 each, backing their claim that the college misled them about the accreditation of its nursing program, The Roanoke Times reported. The students were enrolled when the college had conditional accreditation from the National League for Nursing, but evidence presented at the trial suggested that the college did not revise materials such as its website when that group withdrew accreditation. The state is considering an appeal -- and more student suits are pending.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Notre Dame has agreed to a series of policy changes to resolve an inquiry by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights into the university's handling of sexual assault charges. The OCR statement referenced a number of concrete changes that will assure those bring complaints of clear information about their options and a range of support, while also requiring prompt investigations by the university. Notre Dame's statement, in contrast, referred to "several minor modifications" it agreed to make in its policies. The Education Department inquiry followed a series of complaints about Notre Dame's handling of such allegations. In one case revealed by The Chicago Tribune, a new student at St. Mary's College (Notre Dame's neighbor) killed herself shortly after accusing a Notre Dame football player of sexual battery -- a charge that her family believes the university did not investigate adquately. The parents of Lizzy Seeberg, the St. Mary's students, told the Tribune on Friday: "Perhaps it will be her legacy that our daughters and granddaughters, our sisters and nieces, may one day soon walk their college campuses with the safety and freedom that they should expect and that the people should demand."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Ben Trachtenberg of the University of Missouri School of Law explains how economists value human life and why the lives of Americans are becoming more valuable. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Long Beach City College and the Los Angeles Community College District employed a manager of construction projects who had recently served jail time in Texas for paying bribes in school construction projects, The Los Angeles Times reported. One of the Texas prosecutors of Louis M. Cruz, the project manager, told the Times he was stunned about his ability to find work with similar responsibilities. "After he'd been to prison? That's incredible," said Cliff Herberg, first assistant district attorney in Bexar County, Texas. "Didn't they wonder where he was for two years?" Cruz could not be reached for comment. Cruz worked at Long Beach as an employee of a company that manages construction projects for the college. He was dismissed because of complaints he was causing delays, but officials said that they did not know of his Texas record while he was employed there.

Friday, July 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Oxford University Press issued a statement Thursday affirming that it had not killed the "Oxford comma" (also called a serial comma), which appears before "and" in a series. Twitter and the blogosphere have been full of outrage over the reported elimination of the comma. As the Associated Press explained, the false reports were based on a style guide produced by the University of Oxford public relations office for press releases. For those following the Oxford University Press style, the comma lives on.

Friday, July 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Baltimore International College officials said the institution would explore a merger that might allow it to survive the stripping of its accreditation in June by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The revocation of accreditation for the culinary college was one of many negative actions that the regional accrediting agency imposed at its meeting last month, which added four colleges (Baltimore City Community College, Caribbean University, Luzerne County Community College,and Richmond, the American International University in London) to its rolls of institutions on probation and issued warnings to nine other colleges, listed below. Most of the institutions that Middle States placed on probation or warned were cited for their failure to provide evidence that they were assessing their own institutional effectiveness or the extent of student learning.

 

Four colleges (all campuses of the University of Puerto Rico) were continued on probation, while seven other branches of the Puerto Rican university were removed from probation.

Friday, July 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of Community Colleges on Thursday appointed a 36-member commission to take "a holistic look" at the mission of and challenges facing community colleges. Most of the commission members are current community college presidents, but the group also includes such experts on community colleges as Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor at Syracuse University and Mark David Milliron, deputy director for postsecondary improvement at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and university system chancellors such as William Kirwan of the University System of Maryland and Nancy Zimpher of the State University of New York.

Friday, July 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Vanderlan of Cornell University explains the role poets played in creating one of the 20th century’s great media empires. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The longtime former president of Hocking College and his wife -- also a former official at the Ohio institution -- were charged Thursday with violations of ethics and other laws related to actions while in office, The Columbus Dispatch reported. John Light, who presided over Hocking for nearly 40 years, was charged for failing to report college-paid travel, while Roxanne DuVivier, a former vice president at Hocking, faces several conflict of interest charges, the newspaper reported. Hocking's successor had a very short tenure, ousted last month after clashes with the board.

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