Higher Education Quick Takes
The Association of American Universities on Thursday issued a statement backing reform of gun laws in the United States. While calling for reform of gun laws, the statement also calls for improvements in the treatment of mental illness and consideration of the "culture of contemporary media" in promoting violence. "We claim no special expertise in these domains," the statement says, but it calls for a comprehensive solution to gun violence, noting the tragedies at Virginia Tech and in Newtown, Conn.
Many big-time college football programs use a generic version of the pain-relief drug Toradol to treat players -- despite evidence that its use could lead to possible fatal heart attacks, strokes or organ failure, ABC News reported. Of top programs, only the University of Oklahoma and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln told ABC News that they have limited or stopped the use of the drug.
College football has been "by far the slowest sport to react" to the growing concerns about brain trauma from repeated concussions and other head injuries, as one expert says in the first of a four-part series published Thursday in The Birmingham News. The article quotes numerous experts saying that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has failed to respond to growing evidence of a severe problem in the sport, though it notes progress made by several conferences.
National Collegiate Athletic Association officials offered a sharp-elbowed rebuttal to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's announcement Wednesday that the state would sue the association over the harsh penalties it imposed on Pennsylvania State University in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal. In his statement, Corbett said the NCAA had largely ignored its own procedures by injecting itself "into an issue they had no authority to police and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system," and that the "arbitrary and capricious" penalties that resulted would irreparably harm the university.
The NCAA's executive vice president and general counsel, Donald M. Remy, characterized the lawsuit as without merit. He noted that Penn State officials had signed off on the consent decree that dictated the penalties, thereby "accept[ing] the consequences for its role and the role of its employees" in the tragedy that destroyed the lives of those molested by a former coach, Jerry Sandusky. "Today's announcement by the Governor is a setback to the University's efforts,” Remy said.
When the 113th Congress convenes, the leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the subcommittee focusing on higher education won't change -- John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, will remain chairman of the committee, while Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, will return as chairwoman of the subcommittee on higher education. The committee also adds three new Republican members -- Susan Brooks and Luke Messer, both of Indiana, and Richard Hudson of North Carolina.
Japan's Education Ministry is preparing to allow universities to use a quarter system in addition to the traditional semester system, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. In the current system, students take up to 10 courses a semester but the courses meet only once a week, and critics say that there is not enough focus on anything. Under a quarter system, students would take fewer courses but they would meet twice a week.
Connecticut officials are investigating the sudden closure this week of three for-profit colleges, The Hartford Courant reported. Two of the campuses are Sawyer Schools, and one is a Butler Business School. All are owned by Academic Enterprises, Inc. State regulations require 60 days' notice of a school closure, and that was not given. School officials could not be reached.
Harvard Law School is preparing to offer a free course through edX -- the platform Harvard University uses for MOOCs (massive open online courses). But as The National Law Journal reported, the law course (on copyright) won't be totally open or massive. Enrollment will be limited to 500. The course description explains the rationale behind the limit: "Enrollment for the course is limited, in keeping with the belief that high-quality legal education depends, at least in part, upon supervised small-group discussions of difficult issues. Fidelity to that principle requires confining the course to the number of participants that can be supervised effectively by the 21 teaching fellows. The limit on the enrollment does not mean, however, that there will not be access to the course materials. On the contrary, all of the readings and recorded lectures used in the course will be made available to the public."