The University of Wisconsin at Madison has barred Gary Splitter, a tenured professor who studies an infectious disease, from his laboratory for five years because of unauthorized experiments with a potentially dangerous, drug-resistant germ, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Such punishments are extremely rare. Splitter said he had not been aware of the experiments, and that they were conducted by graduate students in his lab whom the university failed to train on safety issues. "The University of Wisconsin failed to provide the right education," Splitter said. "The bottom line is that this wasn't just an investigation of one individual. It was a major meltdown by the university."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Under a plan pushed by Gov. David Paterson, most state employees -- including faculty members at the four-year campuses of the City University of New York and the State University of New York -- will be furloughed for one day next week. The furloughs apply only to state employees, which exempts community college faculty members, who are considered local employees. The university systems say that they will try to carry out the furloughs in ways that are least disruptive, which may be particularly challenging given that they will take place at the end of the academic year. The City University of New York scheduled its furloughs for Friday, May 21, but also said that any faculty members with teaching or proctoring duties on that day should be furloughed on another day that week.
It's the time of year -- after one class has been admitted and before the next year's cycle is fully under way -- that colleges tend to announce they are ending standardized testing requirements. And Southern New Hampshire University has just done so -- becoming the second institution this month in in the state to make such a shift.
John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia, met with Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday to urge reforms in state law so colleges would be informed of the off-campus arrests of their students, The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported. Casteen noted that the university was never informed of an incident in which the student who is facing murder charges in the death of another student this month was arrested in 2008 and allegedly threatened a police officer. “Information of that kind would have lit up our system,” Casteen said. “Students who do those sorts of things would find themselves suspended immediately … In any event, I would like to know if one of my students threatened to kill a police officer.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a scholarship reform bill, arguing that it does not go far enough, the Chicago Tribune reported. The legislation concerns scholarships that legislators are allowed to award the scholarships to whomever they want in their district -- and critics have noted for years that these scholarships frequently go to the relatives of political contributors. The legislation that the governor vetoed would have banned the awarding of scholarships to anyone whose family could be linked to a contribution in the previous five years, but Quinn said that was not enough. "A scholarship program that is not based on need or merit, I don't think is a proper thing for our state. That's why I vetoed this bill and urged the legislature to abolish this program," he said.
John McHugh, secretary of the Army, has withdrawn as commencement speaker at the State University of New York at Oswego, telling officials there that "it is clear my presence at the ceremony might well have a disruptive effect." Some students planned to wear buttons and others to engage in potentially louder protests of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The university stood by the invitation, amid criticism of some on campus. “Civic responsibility is demonstrated as much in free expression as it is in listening to different views on important subjects,” said Deborah F. Stanley, the president. She added that she “regretted missing a chance to see our free society in meaningful and educational exchange.”
A national survey of college students has found them to be worried about job prospects, but maintaining strong levels of support for President Obama. The survey was conducted by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, at California State University at Monterey Bay. Only 64 percent of the students are confident in their ability to find good jobs -- a record low level. While President Obama's approval ratings have fallen among students and the public, they remain quite high among students: 66 percent, compared to about half of all Americans.
The Board of Regents of Murray State University voted 6-2 to condemn a special sex-focused section in The Murray State News, the student newspaper, the Associated Press reported. While some board members asked for information on how many tax dollars supported the newspaper, President Randy Dunn said that seeking to cut funds would be "dangerous territory."
Lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing legislation that would severely limit the work of law school clinics that provide free legal services -- a measure that campus officials say would force many such clinics to close, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported. The legislation sponsored by a state senator would bar university law clinics from suing government agencies in court, among other things. It is widely acknowledged to be aimed at Tulane University's environmental law clinic, which was the focus of a similar push more than a decade ago and was characterized by one business leader as having a "wanton disregard for the economic well being of the state," the Louisiana newspaper reported. The legislation in Louisiana follows a move by legislators against a law clinic at the University of Maryland, and prompted a letter to Louisiana senators from the Clinical Legal Educators Association that reads, in part: "The provisions in this bill demonstrate a failure to understand the importance of providing access to legal representation to all citizens, rich or poor, and the structure of contemporary legal education. Those supporting this bill appear more concerned about protecting favored businesses from compliance with the law and punishing the state’s universities than about higher education and access to justice."
Though the American Association of Medical Colleges will fall short of its goal of seeing the number of first-year seats in M.D. programs grow 30 percent by 2015 over 2002 levels, enrollment projections collected from member medical schools and released Monday suggest continued growth toward that goal. Projections suggest that first-year M.D. program enrollments will total 20,281 in 2015, a 23 percent increase over 2002. The association expects to reach the 30 percent goal in 2018. Growth has been steadiest in existing medical schools -- 102 of the 125 institutions accredited prior to 2002 have expanded their enrollments, though some institutions have slowed expansion because of the recession. In 2009, 12 schools announced plans to reduce their enrollments, mostly for financial reasons.
Osteopathic medical schools also continue to grow. Data provided to the AAMC by the American Association of Osteopathic Colleges of Medicine projects that its members' first-year enrollments will total nearly 6,300 in the fall of 2014, more than double what they were in 2002. First-year seats in M.D. and D.O. programs are estimated to total 26,550 by that fall, close to 7,000 more than in 2002. But, the AAMC cautions, that growth will put greater pressure on graduate residency programs, which have grown by only about 1 percent annually.