Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Adam Wheeler, who duped Harvard University into admitting him based on a fake academic record, must repay the university $46,000 after pleading guilty Thursday to larceny, identity fraud and other charges, the Associated Press reported. The funds cover various grants he received based on the false record. He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered not to profit from the story of his Harvard experience while he is on probation. Wheeler told the court: "I am ashamed and embarrassed by what I've done."

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

New York City is seeking a university with strength in engineering and other applied sciences to help run a major new research institute, Bloomberg reported. City officials are considering institutions near and far -- as far away as Israel (where the Technion is under consideration). The selected university may receive funds and land for facilities.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Laureate International, a worldwide chain of for-profit universities, is planning a major new campus in Australia, Adelaide Now reported. While an official announcement has not been made, government officials are reportedly in discussions about how to support the construction of a $300 million campus in Adelaide.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Measuring graduation rates at 200 percent of the expected time to graduate instead of 150 percent has an impact, but a relatively small one, according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The standard federal measure is 150 percent (or six years for a bachelor's degree and three years for an associate degree), but some have suggested that a longer time frame would show many more students finishing. The study found that while there are modest gains, they are smaller than those seen by measuring at 150 percent of expected time instead of 100 percent. At public, four-year colleges, the average gain by measuring rates at eight years over six is 4 percentage points, but the gain from four years to six years is 26 percentage points. For community colleges, the gain by going from three to four years is six percentage points, while the growth from two years to three is 11 percentage points.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Sociological Association announced Wednesday that it is moving its 2011 annual meeting away from Chicago. “A very protracted labor dispute between the service workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 and Chicago hotels has been taking place and there is no end in sight,” said Sally T. Hillsman, the association's executive officer, in a statement. “Without any sign of an imminent resolution, the ASA Council voted unanimously to move the meeting from Chicago because ASA cannot guarantee that the facilities and environment necessary for a successful meeting will be available.” A new location will be announced in a few weeks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The drive by the American Federation of Teachers to unionize faculties in the University of Wisconsin continues to advance. Already this year, faculty members have voted to be represented by the AFT at the system's Superior and Eau Claire campuses. In the last month, petitions have been filed for union elections at the system's campuses at La Crosse, River Falls, Stevens Point and Stout, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

A study released Wednesday found that 79 of the 152 medical schools in the United States have strong conflict of interest policies with regard to ties to the pharmaceutical industry. That figure is up from 45 last year. The analysis was conducted by the American Medical Student Association and the Pew Prescription Project, two groups that have pushed medical schools and hospitals to limit their ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities periodically experience anti-Semitic vandalism at Hillel facilities or other places identifiable as Jewish, but it's the rare incident that is traced to a university administrator. But on Wednesday authorities announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Mark Zacharias, scholarship coordinator of the honors college at Indiana University at Bloomington, on charges that he used a rock to break the glass of an information board in the building housing Jewish studies at the university, WRTV News reported. Indiana University has seen several other incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in the last week, but authorities have not linked Zacharias -- who has not commented -- to those events.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

Deficit hawks in the U.S. Senate seeking to force their colleagues to offset the costs of extending the Bush-era tax cuts tried on Wednesday to kill off funds that help college financial aid offices cover the costs of providing federal grants to students. But in passing the tax bill, senators defeated the amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to eliminate the "administrative cost allowance," which provides a $5 payment to participating colleges for each student who receives a Pell Grant for an award year. "Many schools -- particularly those serving the greatest numbers of low-income students -- depend on these funds to staff, train, and fund their financial aid office operations," Justin A. Draeger, president of the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in a news release urging senators to reject the amendment. "Such cuts would have a dramatic negative effect on institutions' ability to serve students." The tax bill, as passed in the Senate, includes several provisions important to colleges.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The economic downturn of the last two years has challenged many colleges completing multi-year fund-raising campaigns -- especially those that announced ambitious targets prior to the sharp drops on Wall Street in the fall of 2008. But Columbia University on Wednesday announced that it is about to meet its $4 billion target (early) and that it is extending the effort and upping the target to $5 billion. The campaign was originally supposed to close at the end of 2011, but the university has already raised $3.9 billion. The campaign is now aiming for $5 billion by the end of 2013.

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