Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 6, 2012

The College Board, facing widespread criticism, on Tuesday announced that it was abandoning plans to test out an August administration of the SAT this year. Many high school students want a summer option for taking the SAT, but many college and high school officials were upset by the College Board's plan to try out the idea with a summer program of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented -- a program whose $4,500 price tag led many educators to call the pilot a "rich kids SAT."

Initially the College Board defended the idea of using that group to test an August SAT. But on Tuesday, the board issued a statement that said in part that "certain aspects" of the summer program whose participants would gain the August SAT opportunity "run counter to our mission of promoting equity and access, as well as to our beliefs about SAT performance." The statement added, however, that the organization was "still very much committed to exploring the concept of a summer administration," and would look for ways in the future to do so "in a manner that better aligns with our mission and the students we serve. Steps also are being taken internally to ensure that future initiatives receive the appropriate level of senior management review."

June 6, 2012

New York State's highest court on Tuesday ruled that Shawn Bukowski did not have the right to sue Clarkson University over injuries he suffered during a baseball practice. Bukowski was a pitcher who -- in his first "live" practice -- had a ball hit right back at him, striking his jaw and breaking a tooth. His suit argued that he was not fully introduced to the circumstances and dangers he would face in practice. But the court found otherwise. "[P]laintiff was an experienced and knowledgeable baseball player who assumed the inherent risk of being hit by a line drive," the court ruled.

June 6, 2012

Barbara Walters apologized Tuesday when e-mail records revealed her efforts to help Sheherazad Jaafari, an aide to Syria's president, get a job or get into Columbia University's journalism school, The Telegraph reported. Walters got to know Jaafari when the journalist was pushing to interview Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whose government has been holding on to power in the country with brutal crackdowns on protesters. The e-mail records indicate that Walters approached a Columbia professor, praising Jaafari, and that he then offered to help.

Richard Wald, the professor, said he would try to get the admissions office "to give her special attention." Wald told the Telegraph that Jaafari had not applied so he didn't do anything on her behalf, but he said that "I would ask the admissions office to give special attention to anyone with a recommendation from Ms. Walters or anyone else in journalism." Walters issued a statement in which she said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."

 

June 6, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, John Parmelee of the University of North Florida reveals how Twitter is reshaping the relationship between politicians and their constituents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 6, 2012

A North Carolina appeals court has ruled that private colleges' police records are not public records. The ruling came in a case brought by a one-time student journalist who filed an open records request seeking records from Elon College about a student's arrest. The appeals court said that the private institution was not covered by the open records requirements. The Student Press Law Center criticized the ruling. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the association, said, "Getting more information about crime into the public’s hands does nothing but good. There’s no good argument why a crime that takes place in the quad of a private college should be kept secret, while the same crime would be public if it took place in the middle of a Pizza Hut."

June 5, 2012

College of Letters and Science faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles have voted against a proposal that would have required undergraduates to take a compulsory course called “Community and Conflict in the Modern World” as part of their general education requirements. A total of 404 ballots, representing about 30 percent of the faculty members, were submitted, with 56.1 percent voting against the requirement. Critics of the proposal said before the vote that the proposed requirement was similar to a 2004 “diversity requirement” proposal that was rejected.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement after the results were announced that he was disappointed that the requirement wasn’t approved. "I’m especially disappointed for the many students who worked with such passion to make the case for a change in curriculum set by faculty,” he said.

June 5, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, James Hanson of Seton Hall University explains efforts to reduce unwanted encounters between humans and sharks by developing an effective repellent. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 5, 2012

By the end of March, Pennsylvania State University had spent just under $10 million on expenses related to the child sex abuse scandal involving allegations against Jerry Sandusky, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The costs reflect payments for legal fees, consultants and public relations. Other payments -- such as settlements reached with the former Penn State President Graham Spanier -- are not included in the calculation.

 

June 5, 2012

Tel Aviv University announced Monday that it was canceling the reservation made for a university auditorium for a concert this month of the works of Richard Wagner, Haaretz reported. While Wagner's works are revered by many music lovers (including the Israel Wagner Society, which planned the event), playing his music is taboo in Israel, where his anti-Semitic writings and his many Nazi fans (well after his death) have made his works controversial. The university said that the auditorium was reserved without revealing the purpose, and that it was facing outrage over agreeing to the booking. Uri Chanoch, deputy chairman of the Holocaust Survivors Center, wrote to the president of the university, saying of the planned concert: "This is emotional torture for Holocaust survivors and the wider public in the state of Israel."

June 5, 2012

College and university presidents are expected to announce at the White House today a new system to promote clarity of financial aid packages, The New York Times reported. Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, students will be provided with a "shopping sheet" with easily understandable aid packages, detailing costs after grants, and estimating monthly payments on any loans. Details will be released today.

 

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