Higher Education Quick Takes
Five weeks after a tornado forced Shaw University to end its spring semester early, the institution started a summer session on Monday, The News & Observer reported. Student housing on campus is still not available, but Saint Augustine's College is offering housing to Shaw students, and Shaw is providing shuttles between the two campuses.
Amid reports that legislators were not willing to back a plan for the University of Wisconsin at Madison to become independent of the Wisconsin system, Chancellor Biddy Martin acknowledged Friday that the idea -- which had her strong backing -- was unlikely to pass this year, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Martin backed the plan, arguing that Madison needs independence to thrive in an era of limited state funds. The rest of the university system, however, strongly objected, saying that the system functioned better for the state with Madison as a key part.
Spending on "529" savings plans for college is up 75 percent in the last two years, the Los Angeles Times reported. The state-sponsored plans provide tax breaks for contributions to various investment funds. The article attributed the surge to continued concern among families about college costs, but also to renewed confidence in the possibility of making money through investments.
The leaders of the University and College Union, the primary faculty union in Britain, are backing the right of students to wear burqas, The Independent reported. Union leaders argue that this right will assure that the universities are welcoming to people of all faiths.
A local district attorney has criticized Marquette University for its handling of two allegations of sexual assault by athletes in which the D.A. has now determined that it cannot go ahead with prosecution, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In one case, the accused athlete had a meeting with coaching staff before authorities were notified that the allegations had been made. In both cases, delays from when the university learned of the allegations to when the police learned of them hindered efforts to build a case, officials said. Stephanie Quade, Marquette's dean of students, issued a statement following the criticism: "We're not proud of these incidents or the way in which they were handled. There have been some blunt and direct conversations with offices throughout the university, and we're working on ways to address the issues that have been raised."
Two members of Congress -- Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican -- are asking the College Board and ACT for more information about the policies they have to protect the privacy of those who take the SAT or ACT, Bloomberg reported. The lawmakers note that the associations not only collect names of test-takers, but also sell the names to colleges seeking potential applicants. Officials of the two testing companies said that they hadn't received the information requests, and so couldn't comment on them.
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal this week upheld the right of the University of Victoria to evict a man who had been living in a campus apartment for 20 years, long after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1997, The Vancouver Sun reported. Alkis Gerd'son, the long-term resident, had argued that the university had no right to evict him because he has a mental disability, but the tribunal rejected his argument.
Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican known for his efforts to limit federal spending, on Thursday issued a report attacking the National Science Foundation for "waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement." The report details various grants (mostly in the social sciences) that Coburn finds hard to justify. A statement from Coburn said that the NSF plays a role in key discoveries but that much of its spending "contributes to our debt rather than science." Coburn is a long-time critic of social science research at the NSF -- in 2009, he tried without success to ban political science research from receiving NSF support. An NSF statement about the report said: "The National Science Foundation is renowned for its gold-standard approach to peer review of each of the more than 40,000 proposals it receives each year, While no agency is without flaws, NSF has been diligent about addressing concerns from members of Congress about workforce and grant management issues, and NSF's excellent record of tracking down waste and prosecuting wrongdoing is apparent from Senator Coburn's report. We believe that no other funding agency in the world comes close to NSF for giving taxpayers the best return on their investment."