Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

An injunction issued by a federal judge last week against new federally funded stem cell research "not only blocks potential life-saving research but also threatens to undermine the system of peer-reviewed science that has helped make America the unquestioned world leader in scientific discovery," says a statement issued Friday by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Council on Governmental Relations. The statement continues: "Embryonic stem cell research holds enormous potential for developing treatments and cures for numerous chronic and fatal diseases. With scientists across the nation positioned to make dramatic advances funded substantially by the National Institutes of Health, this judicial action is particularly disappointing. We hope this injunction will be lifted soon and that the lawsuit will be unsuccessful. As these court actions have made clear, it is imperative that policymakers clarify that federal law unambiguously permits the funding of this critical research."

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat, awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to four of her relatives, and two children of a top aide, The Dallas Morning News reported. The foundation provides funds to to members to give out as college scholarships, and while there are relatively few requirements on the awards, there is an anti-nepotism rule that was violated. Another rule that was violated in all of the awards is that those receiving the funds need to live in the districts of the caucus members giving out the money. Johnson told the Morning News that she violated these rules "unknowingly" and would "rectify the financial situation."

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department has selected a Minnesota company, Education Credit Management Corporation, to manage California's federal student loan portfolio, The Sacramento Bee reported. The decision removes EdFund from the federal loan program. EdFund has managed California's federal loans but has been in a series of controversies with the state, with some officials wanting to sell the agency -- a move that is now blocked.

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Iran is focusing on the humanities in a new crackdown on the country's universities, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported. New limits will be placed on the number of students permitted to study the humanities, consistent with worries expressed by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that nearly two-thirds of Iranian university students are seeking degrees in the humanities. He said that the humanities promote "skepticism and doubt in religious principles and beliefs."

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

A new study by researchers at the University of Leeds has found that one in four lap dancers have undergraduate degrees and a number of them are pursuing graduate education. The study is attracting considerable attention in Britain. In this clip from a BBC interview, one of the researchers cites the need to repay student debt as one factor in the trend.

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Friday to defer consideration of a plan to make it easier to eliminate the jobs of tenured professors. The plan -- opposed by faculty leaders -- would authorize universities in the system to dismiss tenured professors not only when programs are completely eliminated due to financial exigency (the status quo) but because programs are reduced in size. Board members said that they would consult with faculty groups before any further consideration of the issue.

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has barred Louis Wozniak, a popular engineering professor, from teaching, The News-Gazette reported. The newspaper said that the decision was prompted by an e-mail the professor sent to a class, in which he included a joke about only remembering the names of students he has had sex with. The professor said that the context made it clear that he was joking, and that he did not have sex with any students.

Friday, August 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday that he plans to host a Chicago forum on for-profit higher education on Tuesday. Speakers will include two former for-profit students, the presidents of two public institutions, and executives from Career Education Corporation, Devry, Inc. and Kaplan University. The forum will consider "whether some for-profit colleges are exploiting rather than educating Illinois students" and include discussion of the industry's growth, reliance on the federal financial aid program and the value of the sector's degrees and certificates.

Durbin has been the most vocal member on the issue who is not on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Earlier this summer, he delivered a speech questioning the for-profit college business model. He was one of a half-dozen Democrats to sign onto a June letter asking the Government Accountability Office to initiate a wide-ranging investigation of the sector, and he wrote to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs earlier this month asking for information on how federal tuition assistance for current and former members of the military is being spent at for-profits.

Friday, August 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California has appointed an official to manage the costs associated with the home of Mark G. Yudof, president of the university, The New York Times reported. The move followed reports of hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses and the involvement of senior university officials in disputes over his previous rented home.

Friday, August 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Notre Dame has responded to a suit by a fired tenured professor by detailing the reasons it dismissed Oliver M. Collins as an engineering professor, The South Bend Tribune reported. While Collins said he was fired inappropriately, the university says that he used more than $190,000 in grant funds on unauthorized equipment, including digital cameras used to take pornographic pictures.

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