Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how fluorine can be used to create useful new pharmaceuticals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 7, 2012

Student borrowers with federal direct loans who want to enroll in the government's income-based repayment program will be able to apply directly through the Education Department rather than through loan servicers, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. The department will allow borrowers to import Internal Revenue Service income data directly to their application. It will require servicers to inform borrowers about income-based repayment before they begin repaying their loans. The program caps payments at 15 percent (soon to be 10 percent) of a borrower's monthly discretionary income.

The department has struggled with servicing problems in the past year, including glitches with enrolling borrowers in income-based repayment. Administration officials said the streamlined application process should be in place by September.

June 7, 2012

Chapman University has agreed to pay $175,000 to a former film professor who says she was denied tenure because she is a woman, The Orange County Register reported. A faculty grievance committee backed her claim, but another university panel did not. At that point, she took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which agreed she had a case. Then, Chapman settled, saying that it did nothing wrong but wanted to resolve the matter.

 

June 6, 2012

The College Board, facing widespread criticism, on Tuesday announced that it was abandoning plans to test out an August administration of the SAT this year. Many high school students want a summer option for taking the SAT, but many college and high school officials were upset by the College Board's plan to try out the idea with a summer program of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented -- a program whose $4,500 price tag led many educators to call the pilot a "rich kids SAT."

Initially the College Board defended the idea of using that group to test an August SAT. But on Tuesday, the board issued a statement that said in part that "certain aspects" of the summer program whose participants would gain the August SAT opportunity "run counter to our mission of promoting equity and access, as well as to our beliefs about SAT performance." The statement added, however, that the organization was "still very much committed to exploring the concept of a summer administration," and would look for ways in the future to do so "in a manner that better aligns with our mission and the students we serve. Steps also are being taken internally to ensure that future initiatives receive the appropriate level of senior management review."

June 6, 2012

New York State's highest court on Tuesday ruled that Shawn Bukowski did not have the right to sue Clarkson University over injuries he suffered during a baseball practice. Bukowski was a pitcher who -- in his first "live" practice -- had a ball hit right back at him, striking his jaw and breaking a tooth. His suit argued that he was not fully introduced to the circumstances and dangers he would face in practice. But the court found otherwise. "[P]laintiff was an experienced and knowledgeable baseball player who assumed the inherent risk of being hit by a line drive," the court ruled.

June 6, 2012

Barbara Walters apologized Tuesday when e-mail records revealed her efforts to help Sheherazad Jaafari, an aide to Syria's president, get a job or get into Columbia University's journalism school, The Telegraph reported. Walters got to know Jaafari when the journalist was pushing to interview Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whose government has been holding on to power in the country with brutal crackdowns on protesters. The e-mail records indicate that Walters approached a Columbia professor, praising Jaafari, and that he then offered to help.

Richard Wald, the professor, said he would try to get the admissions office "to give her special attention." Wald told the Telegraph that Jaafari had not applied so he didn't do anything on her behalf, but he said that "I would ask the admissions office to give special attention to anyone with a recommendation from Ms. Walters or anyone else in journalism." Walters issued a statement in which she said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."

 

June 6, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, John Parmelee of the University of North Florida reveals how Twitter is reshaping the relationship between politicians and their constituents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 6, 2012

A North Carolina appeals court has ruled that private colleges' police records are not public records. The ruling came in a case brought by a one-time student journalist who filed an open records request seeking records from Elon College about a student's arrest. The appeals court said that the private institution was not covered by the open records requirements. The Student Press Law Center criticized the ruling. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the association, said, "Getting more information about crime into the public’s hands does nothing but good. There’s no good argument why a crime that takes place in the quad of a private college should be kept secret, while the same crime would be public if it took place in the middle of a Pizza Hut."

June 5, 2012

Ohio State University has received a bid of $483 million to lease parking operations for the next 50 years, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The university had hoped for a bid of at least $375 million. Some faculty members and others have criticized the leasing plan as needless outsourcing, but university officials have said that a deal could improve parking management and provide needed revenue.

 

June 5, 2012

College of Letters and Science faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles have voted against a proposal that would have required undergraduates to take a compulsory course called “Community and Conflict in the Modern World” as part of their general education requirements. A total of 404 ballots, representing about 30 percent of the faculty members, were submitted, with 56.1 percent voting against the requirement. Critics of the proposal said before the vote that the proposed requirement was similar to a 2004 “diversity requirement” proposal that was rejected.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement after the results were announced that he was disappointed that the requirement wasn’t approved. "I’m especially disappointed for the many students who worked with such passion to make the case for a change in curriculum set by faculty,” he said.

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