Higher Education Quick Takes
An investment group is poised to sign a deal to provide funds to Bethany University, a financially struggling Assemblies of God institution in California, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The article referred to the unidentified group buying the university, and quoted Bethany officials as saying that the funds would allow Bethany to "maintain its mission." Details were not provided. Bethany is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and for-profit purchases of or investments in regionally accredited colleges have of late been controversial.
Fourteen academic luminaries -- among them A.C. Grayling, Richard Dawkins, Ronald Dworkin, Niall Ferguson and Steven Pinker -- have announced the creation of the New College of the Humanities, which will be affiliated with the University of London. The new college promises many things that critics fear are disappearing from British universities, such as close student-faculty interaction and an emphasis on the humanities. Tuition will be 18,000 pounds a year (nearly $30,000), or twice the charges at the most expensive British public universities.
Students who pay extra fees for online course material at California community colleges may be entitled to refunds on the fees, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Fees charged by publishers for online materials are common in higher education, and college officials have defended them in California. But the dispute in California -- prompted by a student grievance -- concerns a state regulation that fees for instructional material provide students with "tangible personal property." Under that measure, the fee would be legal if students could download and store the online material, but they can't.
The playwright Tony Kushner on Friday accepted an honorary degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and acknowledged the controversy over the award, initially blocked by the City University of New York's board, but later approved by the Executive Committee of the board. The New York Times reported that Kushner said this degree was "the most interesting one I had to work hardest to get," and that he thanked those who helped him receive the honor. "Behind it there stands a shining community of people, of spirits of whom I’m proud to be able to call myself kindred who believe in the necessity of honest exchanges of ideas and opinions, who understand that life is a struggle to synthesize, to find a balance between responsibility and freedom, strategy and truth, survival and ethical humanity," he said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has fined a small company $120,000 for selling charter flights to college athletics teams without the legal authority to do so. According to an order issued by the federal agency, Global Airlines Services (whose website no longer appears to be operational; a cached version of the site can be found here) and its owner, Harold J. Pareti, contracted with universities to transport their sports teams, and then arranged for actual airline carriers to provide the service -- even though Global "did not hold proper authority" from the Transportation Department to broker such arrangements.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled 7-2 that a pharmaceutical company did not infringe a Stanford University patent on a technology that measures the concentration of HIV in blood plasma -- a result that higher education groups have warned would undercut the federal government's 30-year-old system for determining who owns the rights to inventions created using federal funds. The court's ruling came in a case known as Stanford v. Roche. Coverage to follow on Inside Higher Ed tomorrow.
The board of Hocking College voted Friday to end the presidency of Ron Erickson that day, The Columbus Dispatch reported. While board members did not discuss the rationale behind their decision, Erickson had predicted the outcome. He has accused the board of trying to micromanage the two-year Ohio college. Board members previously said they were surprised that Erickson went public with his criticisms. The relationship between Erickson and the board seemed doomed from the start, as even the search that resulted in his hiring was contested.
The Alabama Legislature has passed legislation, expected soon to be signed into law, that would bar students without the legal documentation to be in the United States from enrolling at public colleges in the United States. The measure is part of a far-reaching bill -- receiving attention for going beyond even Arizona's controversial immigration law. Many states bar undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates -- and such policies effectively bar students from enrolling because these students don't qualify for government student aid and rarely have the financial resources to afford out-of-state rates. Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston and an expert of higher education and immigration law, said that there has "never been any evidence" that undocumented students in any way restrict the access of other students. He said that the Alabama bill exemplified "mean-spiritedness."
The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has finished a 90-year project to create a dictionary of Assyrian, The Chicago Tribune reported. Since 1921, 88 scholars have worked on the 21-volume, 28,000-word dictionary. The institute will sell the dictionary for $1,400 a set.