Academics are well-represented among the 23 winners, named today by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as new MacArthur Fellows for 2010. The awardees receive $500,000, no strings attached, and they didn't even have to apply. The winners include professors at the California Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cornell, Harvard, Oregon State and Stanford Universities; the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, and San Diego; and the Universities of Chicago and Minnesota.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been known to hold back (even when that might be wise), but he seems even more willing to speak his mind in his waning weeks in office, with a veto message he issued Friday prime evidence of that. Schwarzenegger refused to sign AB 1889, which its Democratic sponsors described as mainly aimed at clearing up "technicalities" in controversial legislation enacted last year to reinstate California's regulatory system for for-profit and other vocational colleges. But the new legislation went well beyond mere cleanup, Schwarzenegger suggested in his veto message, taking particular umbrage at a provision that would require the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to hire five new employees to oversee for-profit colleges -- an unusual effort by a legislature to dictate management by an executive branch agency. "This is both an inappropriate and unacceptable action to micro-manage and burden the implementation of regulatory policy," Schwarzenegger wrote.
He added, with what one can only imagine was a wide grin on his face: "If the author or interest groups wish to make staffing decisions for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, I suggest they look into applying for the position of Bureau Chief. Applications can be obtained at: www.gov.ca.gov/appointments."
David Kennedy, former principal of Robert Gordon University, plans to return an honorary degree he received from the Scottish university to protest its decision to award an honorary degree next month to Donald Trump, the BBC reported. The university says that it is honoring Trump for his "business acumen," particularly in Scotland. But Kennedy is among many in the region who are outraged by Trump's plans to build a golf course in the area -- over the objections of many local residents.
Kaplan Higher Education is today announcing its "Kaplan Commitment" program, which it first unveiled this month while urging the U.S. Education Department to revise proposed regulations on the "gainful employment" of graduates of for-profit career programs. Under the new program, students at Kaplan University, Kaplan College or other Kaplan Higher Education schools will be able to enroll in classes for several weeks and assess whether the Kaplan coursework meets their educational needs before making a financial commitment. Kaplan will also conduct various assessments to help determine whether students are likely to be successful. The changes respond to critics of for-profit higher education who have said that some institutions encourage students to enroll -- paying tuition in large part with federal grants and loans -- in programs they are unlikely to complete. Students who withdraw from these Kaplan courses early will not have to pay for their coursework, and they need not receive the federal loans they would obtain to take the courses.
Lloyd Jacobs, the president of the University of Toledo, has proposed dividing the College of Arts and Sciences into three new units, and the plan has angered many faculty members, The Toledo Blade reported. Some faculty members object to the idea itself, while others say that they didn't have enough input or that they don't trust the president (a former medical school administrator) to safeguard the arts and humanities.
Joy Laskar, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with a research engineer and an office administrator were jailed Friday after racketeering charges were filed against them, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The university says that the three funneled about $2 million in university funds to a company owned by Laskar and by Stephane Pinel, the research engineer. A lawyer for Laskar denied wrongdoing and said that Georgia Tech was trying to obtain a greater share of the funds from a business founded by Laskar in partnership with the university.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is announcing a plan under which some students will receive counseling on how to finish degrees in three years, The Boston Globe reported. This year, the program will be offered for freshmen majoring in economics, music, and sociology. Eventually the choice will be available to those in about one-third of the 88 majors.
The violent deaths of students in off-campus incidents have shaken Seton Hall University and the University of Wisconsin at Stout.
At Seton Hall, a sophomore who was killed was among five people shot at an off-campus party, allegedly by someone who tried to attend the party, was rebuffed, and returned with a gun and started shooting. Five people in all were shot, including two other students from Seton Hall and one from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, The Star-Ledger reported. The newspaper quoted an attendee at the party as saying that "the whole crowd was like a stampede. Girls were being trampled on ... it was pure terror."
At Stout, authorities have arrested two students -- one a hockey player and one who was recruited to play hockey -- in connection with the death of a third student, The Chippewa Herald reported. According to authorities, the two students who have been charged got into a fight with the third at a bar; after the fight was broken up, they followed him after he left on his bike, and assaulted him. The assault caused the bike to crash into a concrete wall, resulting in head injuries that killed the student.
Football, men's basketball and other coaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sent scores of impermissible text messages and made dozens of impermissible telephone calls to recruits in 2008 and 2009, breaking major National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, the association said Thursday. The Division I Committee on Infractions and the university, working together in the association's summary disposition process, also concluded that the university had failed to adequately monitor its sports program and ensure compliance and integrity in the investigation into the wrongdoing. The university faces recruiting and coaching restrictions as a result.
The chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley said the institution plans to cut another 200 jobs to save $20 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In a letter to employees this week, Robert Birgeneau said that Berkeley "cannot continue with our current administrative structures and operations and be the best run public university in the country." The cuts, which he said will be achieved through "a combination of attrition, retirements, voluntary separations and layoffs," would be in addition to about 600 positions eliminated since last year.