Higher Education Quick Takes
It turns out that Tiger Mother may be almost a pushover compared to Wolf Dad, the nickname of Xiao Baiyou, who has written a book about how he managed to get three of his four children prepared for and admitted to Peking University, NPR reported. He told his story in a book originally titled Beat Them Into Peking University. He extols the values of discipline. "I have more than a thousand rules: specific detailed rules about how to hold your chopsticks and your bowl, how to pick up food, how to hold a cup, how to sleep, how to cover yourself with a quilt," Xiao said. "If you don't follow the rules, then I must beat you."
Governor Rick Scott on Thursday called for the board of Florida A&M University to suspend James Ammons as president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The Florida A&M board reprimanded Ammons this week, but stopped short of suspending him, amid an investigation into a hazing-related death of a student from the university's marching band. The governor's announcement came shortly after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that it was investigating "fraud and/or misconduct" in connection with its inquiry into the student's death. Ammons has said that he is working hard to prevent hazing.
A committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature has recommended expanding the reach of two-year colleges in rural counties, and has proposed a new state institution that would include multiple campuses or learning centers. The Pennsylvania Commission on Community Colleges isn't sold on the idea, arguing that its members already offer the services the proposed college would. The commission also questioned whether a new institution would be the "best use of the state's limited funds."
The Pentagon -- responding to criticism from Congress and higher education associations -- has agreed to delay by 90 days (until March 30) new rules on tuition benefits for service members. A letter to senators who opposed the new rules said that the additional time will be used to deal with concerns various groups have expressed. Many colleges say that the guidelines go too far in prescribing how programs must award academic credit and process student payments, among other issues. And many fear that the system -- if used for service members -- could be extended to veterans or other groups of students.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a student at Loyola University in New Orleans, charging that she threatened to blow up a building and to kill five professors -- all to avoid taking a test, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The first of two e-mail threats said: "Mamba pistol with five bullets in it for five professors in Monroe Hall.... I have no sympathy for any accidental casualties!!!" The second e-mail said: "You are really trying my patience! I am on the verge of blowing that bitch up and you'll be renovating from the foundation!" The student, who is free on bail, denies intending to harm anyone and says that the messages were a joke.
The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is accepting an Institute of Medicine panel's recommendations to cut back on most research involving chimpanzees. A statement by Francis S. Collins, director of the NIH, noted that scientists have valued research with chimpanzees as "the closest relatives" to humans. And he said key medical advances have been based in part on work with the animals. "However, new methods and technologies developed by the biomedical community have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in several areas of research," he said. While further research with chimpanzees may still be needed in a few key areas, the NIH wants to move away from supporting work where the use of chimpanzees is not truly necessary, he said. While the NIH is developing procedures to to adopt this approach, the agency will not make new awards for research involving chimps.
The basic federal rules for protecting the human subjects of research studies are sound and do not need major changes, according to a report issued by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The commission was charged by President Obama with reviewing those rules in the wake of reports about research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 that intentionally exposed thousands of Guatemalans to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent. "The commission is confident that what happened in Guatemala in the 1940s could not happen today," said a statement from Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission and president of the University of Pennsylvania. While the basic system works, the commission said, some changes could improve it. The panel called for more data to be collected about studies with human subjects. And the commission suggested studying systems for compensating those injured in studies.
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has forwarded to an administrative law judge a proposal to permit the unionization of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move is a win for union advocates. Opponents of the union had wanted the commission to shut down the union drive based on past rulings that the graduate students are students, not employees. But the commission said that these were issues for the judge to consider.