Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 8, 2012

John B. Gurdon of the University of Cambridge and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University were this morning named joint winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent." Yamanaka is also affiliated with the Gladstone Institutes, in San Francisco.

 

 

October 8, 2012

Clair Willcox was named Friday to his former job as editor-in-chief of the University of Missouri Press, The Columbia Missourian reported. In recent months, the press was slated for elimination and Willcox was laid off. When the press survived, supporters said that they would not be satisfied until Willcox's job was restored.

October 8, 2012

The University of Tokyo, Japan's most prestigious university, is starting its first four-year undergraduate degree in English, The New York Times reported. Officials said that they want to attract more international students to the university, and that they want to expand their pool beyond countries such as South Korea and China where many people become fluent in Japanese. The inaugural class includes students from Australia, Britain, Finland, Poland, the United States and Vietnam.

October 8, 2012

Many students at Cuyahoga Community College are objecting to the decision of the college's Metro campus to refuse to let Maria Graciani continue her job as an "ambassador" -- in which she helped with orientation, campus tours and other activities -- because 16 years ago she was convicted of aggravated assault, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. Graciani has served in the position successfully in the past, but the college recently started doing background checks on those in such jobs, and denied her the chance to continue as an ambassador this year. While college officials declined to talk about the decision, they have said that that they introduced the background checks to protect the safety of everyone on campus. Graciani's conviction stems from charges that, during a brawl, she hit a woman with a beer bottle. She said in an interview with the newspaper that someone else hit the woman, but that she pleaded guilty to avoid prison.

October 8, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Keith Ashley of the University of North Florida reveals what life was like for Native Americans at the earliest Spanish missions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 8, 2012

The University of Texas at Austin has announced a pilot program to test the idea of linking loan forgiveness to progress made by undergraduates toward graduation. Under the program, the university will select 200 undergraduates who receive federal unsubsidized student loans. If they complete 15 credits in a semester, the university will repay $1,000 in principal, plus accrued interest.

 

October 8, 2012

A video has surfaced in which Representative Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican who chairs the House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, blasts widely accepted scientific theories, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. In the video address to a church, Representative Broun said that the Bible contains the literal truth about all matters, and that those who think otherwise are wrong. "God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell," Broun said. "And it’s lies to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there’s a lot of scientific data that I’ve found as a scientist that this really is a young earth. I don’t believe that the earth is but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was made in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible tells us."

Broun is running unopposed for re-election.

A spokeswoman for him said that Broun "was speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues."

October 5, 2012

An update to the student loan system that revealed some borrowers' personal information to other borrowers was inadvertent and did not disclose borrowers' birth dates or Social Security numbers, the Education Department said Thursday. A glitch in a new feature allowing students to download their student loan information gave students access to other borrowers' information instead, the department said, but the problem involved only "a small number' of borrowers (two borrowers reported the problem to the department) and was fixed "within hours."

The affected borrowers had access to others' addresses and loan amounts. "While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, we have no reason to believe that any fraudulent activity resulted from this error," department spokesman Justin Hamilton said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.

 

October 5, 2012

Private colleges increased their tuition by an average of 3.9 percent in 2012-13, the smallest rise in four decades, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities announced Thursday. The association said its survey, which included responses from 445 of its 960 members, also found that the average institution's financial aid budget rose by 6.2 percent. The data come at a time of heightened pressure from politicians and the public for colleges to keep their charges within reach of students and families.

October 5, 2012

The State Higher Education Executive Officers, in an open letter Thursday, laid out a suggested agenda for the next presidential administration (whether President Obama or Mitt Romney) in keeping with many of higher education's requests. The next administration, wrote Paul Lingenfelter, the group's president, should stay focused on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees and keeping college affordable, supporting research while making it more efficient, and facilitate cooperation between higher education and elementary and secondary education. The letter also highlighted the role state funding cuts have played in tuition growth, but didn't suggest that the federal government should do anything (such as maintenance-of-effort provisions in legislation) to reverse the trend.

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