Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Measuring graduation rates at 200 percent of the expected time to graduate instead of 150 percent has an impact, but a relatively small one, according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The standard federal measure is 150 percent (or six years for a bachelor's degree and three years for an associate degree), but some have suggested that a longer time frame would show many more students finishing. The study found that while there are modest gains, they are smaller than those seen by measuring at 150 percent of expected time instead of 100 percent. At public, four-year colleges, the average gain by measuring rates at eight years over six is 4 percentage points, but the gain from four years to six years is 26 percentage points. For community colleges, the gain by going from three to four years is six percentage points, while the growth from two years to three is 11 percentage points.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Adam Wheeler, who duped Harvard University into admitting him based on a fake academic record, must repay the university $46,000 after pleading guilty Thursday to larceny, identity fraud and other charges, the Associated Press reported. The funds cover various grants he received based on the false record. He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered not to profit from the story of his Harvard experience while he is on probation. Wheeler told the court: "I am ashamed and embarrassed by what I've done."

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

New York City is seeking a university with strength in engineering and other applied sciences to help run a major new research institute, Bloomberg reported. City officials are considering institutions near and far -- as far away as Israel (where the Technion is under consideration). The selected university may receive funds and land for facilities.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Laureate International, a worldwide chain of for-profit universities, is planning a major new campus in Australia, Adelaide Now reported. While an official announcement has not been made, government officials are reportedly in discussions about how to support the construction of a $300 million campus in Adelaide.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

Deficit hawks in the U.S. Senate seeking to force their colleagues to offset the costs of extending the Bush-era tax cuts tried on Wednesday to kill off funds that help college financial aid offices cover the costs of providing federal grants to students. But in passing the tax bill, senators defeated the amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to eliminate the "administrative cost allowance," which provides a $5 payment to participating colleges for each student who receives a Pell Grant for an award year. "Many schools -- particularly those serving the greatest numbers of low-income students -- depend on these funds to staff, train, and fund their financial aid office operations," Justin A. Draeger, president of the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in a news release urging senators to reject the amendment. "Such cuts would have a dramatic negative effect on institutions' ability to serve students." The tax bill, as passed in the Senate, includes several provisions important to colleges.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The economic downturn of the last two years has challenged many colleges completing multi-year fund-raising campaigns -- especially those that announced ambitious targets prior to the sharp drops on Wall Street in the fall of 2008. But Columbia University on Wednesday announced that it is about to meet its $4 billion target (early) and that it is extending the effort and upping the target to $5 billion. The campaign was originally supposed to close at the end of 2011, but the university has already raised $3.9 billion. The campaign is now aiming for $5 billion by the end of 2013.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

Reforms in the medical school curriculum may have a dramatic impact on the success rates of minority medical students, according to a new study in the journal Medical Education. The study examines the impact of an "integrated medical curriculum" -- in which courses focus more on problem-solving than on memorization -- at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Traditionally high failure rates for black and Latino medical students on the Step 1 licensing exam dropped dramatically for those who went through the new curriculum, the study found.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

Presidents of the Patriot League, a conference of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic colleges with strong academic reputations, have decided to hold off for at least two years on any decision to offer athletic scholarships in football, The Express-Times reported. Those who have opposed scholarships have said that the additional spending is not appropriate right now, but football boosters at some campuses have been pushing hard for a change. While Daniel H. Weiss, president of Lafayette College, has opposed football scholarships, the chairman of the Friends of Lafayette Football on Wednesday denounced the decision, telling the Express-Times that the conference members' presidents "have no guts and offer no leadership."

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Sociological Association announced Wednesday that it is moving its 2011 annual meeting away from Chicago. “A very protracted labor dispute between the service workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 and Chicago hotels has been taking place and there is no end in sight,” said Sally T. Hillsman, the association's executive officer, in a statement. “Without any sign of an imminent resolution, the ASA Council voted unanimously to move the meeting from Chicago because ASA cannot guarantee that the facilities and environment necessary for a successful meeting will be available.” A new location will be announced in a few weeks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The drive by the American Federation of Teachers to unionize faculties in the University of Wisconsin continues to advance. Already this year, faculty members have voted to be represented by the AFT at the system's Superior and Eau Claire campuses. In the last month, petitions have been filed for union elections at the system's campuses at La Crosse, River Falls, Stevens Point and Stout, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

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