Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The Government Accountability Office released a report Wednesday detailing ways for the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid to improve its oversight of lenders and third-party servicers involved in the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

The report urged the department's inspector general to update its FFEL Lender Audit Guide to reflect standards put into place since the guide was last published in 1996. (In a response, Kathleen Tighe, the inspector general, said that a new guide will be out by the end of the year.) It also called for the department to address identified gaps in the policies and procedures used in Federal Student Aid's review of audited financial statements for lender servicers involved in the FFEL program. Those issues, the department said, could be remedied in part by revisions to the guide.

GAO found fewer concerns in the Direct Loan program, but urged the department to step up its oversight as the program grows.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 3:00am

A U.S. Senate appropriations panel approved legislation Wednesday that would give the National Science Foundation slightly less money in 2011 than would proposals by the House of Representatives and President Obama. The measure backed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies would provide $7.35 billion for the science foundation, compared to the $7.42 billion contained in both the Obama administration's budget proposal and a parallel measure working its way through the House of Representatives. According to a news release from the committee, the NSF's research programs would receive $6 billion, slightly more than the House would provide but on par with the president's request, while education programs would get $892 million, down from the House's $958 million.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Law schools are more likely to hire liberal professors than conservatives, but openings at top law schools are not restricted to those left of center, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, National Law Journal reported. The study was based on analysis of 149 entry-level, tenure-track hires made during 2005, 2007 and 2009. Ideology was assigned based on political donations, Facebook profiles, work experience, publications and the political party of presidents who appointed judges for whom the professors clerked, the National Law Journal said. No ideological identity could be determined for 60 percent of the sample, but for those who could be pegged, 52 were liberal and 8 were conservative.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has attracted widespread attention for its emphasis on college completion (as opposed to access alone). A report being released today by Grantmakers for Education argues that there is a widespread shift toward completion efforts by education philanthropies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Kenneth Howell in the controversy over his teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has given the institution an ultimatum: either assure in writing that Howell will teach his regular courses in Roman Catholic studies in the fall, or he will sue. The letter states that the university has violated Howell's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Howell has for years been an adjunct at Illinois, but he was recently told he would not have additional courses, following complaints over an e-mail he sent to students. His supporters argue that the e-mail was just an explanation of Catholic teachings on homosexuality and that punishing him for that would undercut the values of academic freedom. His critics argue that the e-mail reflected an attempt to indoctrinate students with faith, not teach them about a faith -- and some question the arrangement under which a Catholic center nominates and pays for adjuncts to teach courses on Catholicism at the university. Illinois officials have appointed a committee to study the academic freedom issues involved in the case.

But a letter sent by the Alliance Defense Fund Monday argues that the committee may be unfair to Howell. "We are concerned that the committee's investigation into this matter is tainted already with bias toward affirming the dismissal. President Michael Hogan commented that the purpose of the committee is to 'reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here.' This remark gives us concern that university officials do not appreciate the gravity of the constitutional violations in this situation."

Illinois officials did not respond to requests for comment, but have previously indicated that they were committed to a fair inquiry into the issues.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Harvard University Medical School is setting new rules that will prohibit faculty members from giving promotional talks for drug and medical device makers and accepting personal gifts, travel, or meals from such companies, The Boston Globe reported. The new rules follow scrutiny from Congress over allegations of conflict of interest in federally sponsored biomedical research. Harvard officials told the Globe that they believed the rules would not block legitimate research collaboration between faculty members and companies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The business schools of Hong Kong University of Science & Technology and Nanyang Technological University, along with the China Europe International Business School and the Indian School of Business, will do joint recruiting and marketing, trying to position themselves as an "Asian Ivy League" of business schools, Bloomberg reported. "There’s the Ivy League in America, so we thought why can’t we Asian business schools do the same kind of thing" said Nick Soriano, director of marketing and admissions at Nanyang, in Singapore. "Even though we are very much each other's competitors, we thought we can all work together in trying to attract and convince people to come to Asia for their MBA."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 3:00am

  • Hamid Beladi, professor of Economics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has been appointed IBC Bank Senior Faculty Fellow there.
  • Diane Hoadley, dean of the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences at Eastern Illinois University, has been named dean of the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.
  • H. David (Dave) Lambert, vice president for information services and chief information officer at Georgetown University, has been selected as president and chief executive officer of Internet2.
  • Douglas Shapiro, director of institutional research at the New School, in New York, has been chosen as senior research director of the Research Center at the National Student Clearinghouse, in Virginia.
  • Tachung (T.C.) Yih, vice provost for the office of grants, contracts and sponsored research at Oakland University, has been appointed associate vice president for research and external support at California State University at Long Beach.
  • The appointments above are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 3:00am

    China is starting to see some success in its efforts to battle brain drain. AFP reported that while the numbers leaving the country for graduate study continue to increase, there are now increases in the number of graduates who return, sometimes having achieved the highest levels of success at Western universities. One example: Shi Yigong, who was landing big grants as a professor at Princeton University, returned to become head of life sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 3:00am

    A survey of fund raisers by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education projects that donations for the fiscal year that just closed will be 4.3 percent higher than the previous year, and that the next academic year will see gains of 5.7 percent. These figures, if attained, would mark a turnaround for many colleges that have experienced difficulty raising money during the economic downturn. John Lippincott, president of CASE, called the survey results "an encouraging sign that we may return to pre-recession giving levels in roughly two years."

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