Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The soon-to-be head of the House of Representatives education committee told Bloomberg last week that he is looking for ways to block the Obama administration from putting in place new rules aimed at requiring for-profit and other vocational programs to prove they are preparing their graduates for "gainful employment." Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who will head the Committee on Education and Labor when his party takes control of the House in January, told the news service that he would favor that the government put in place an expanded set of disclosures on outcomes for nonprofit and for-profit colleges alike, and that he believed "a pretty broad spectrum” of lawmakers, from both parties, had concerns about the administration's proposed regulations.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

One of the latest WikiLeaks revelations concerns a high-level and unsuccessful attempt by U.S. officials to get a job for Ali al-Za'ag, a biological weapons scientist who worked for Saddam Hussein, at Victoria University in Australia, The Age reported. Australia's government blocked the plan by refusing to grant him a visa.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

Five adjuncts at East-West University are getting back pay for lost classes and assured course assignments for the next three quarters under an agreement between the adjuncts and the university -- approved by the National Labor Relations Board. Adjuncts at the university had filed complaints about East-West after the university announced that it would no longer need many of their services -- a decision many questioned as it came just as the adjuncts were organized for a union, to be affiliated with the National Education Association. The NEA now plans a new union drive. East-West officials declined to comment on the news.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The Big 10 is creating divisions to deal with its expanding membership, and the recently announced division names of "Legends" and "Leaders" are not going over well. Many fans have made fun of the new division names. The Columbus Dispatch noted that in a recent radio interview with Jim Delany, the conference commissioner, the first question was about whether the Legends name referred to a strip club in Houston. As the article noted, Delany appeared open to reconsidering the names. In the interview, Delany said he realized that no names would get 90 percent approval and that he didn't think it was wise to reconsider based only a few days of ribbing. "But to get a 90 percent not-approval rating was very surprising," Delany said on WGN-AM. "It showed we didn't connect with our fans in a way we wanted to. It's humbling, to say the least. We're trying to build fan bases, not push them away. I think there's a sensibility there we did not connect with or read well." As a result, he added, "we'll have to address the issue about whether it's sustainable. We'll do a little education and let it breathe a bit and probably revisit it a bit after the first of the year."

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

Stanford University's medical school is widely praised for taking a tough stance on conflicts of interest involving the pharmaceutical industry. But a ProPublica investigation found that more than a dozen of its medical faculty were paid by industry groups for speaking engagements -- with two of the doctors earning six figures this way -- in violation of the university's rules. Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford's medical school, sent an e-mail to medical school officials last week calling the continued acceptance of speaking fees "unacceptable" and calling some of the doctors' excuses "difficult if not impossible to reconcile with our policy." ProPublica inquiries have prompted several other medical schools to launch reviews of their institutions' compliance with their rules on such conflicts of interest.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The faculty of Belmont University on Friday called for the institution to formally bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, The Tennessean reported. The university has been debating issues of bias and sexual orientation in recent weeks, amid reports that a women's soccer coach was forced out of her job because she is a lesbian whose partner is pregnant. The university has denied that sexual orientation is considered in decisions about employees, but current written policies at the university do not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

In 2008, Colorado State University pledged that it would become carbon-neutral "rapidly," but The Coloradoan reported that officials now say that the process will take decades. Emissions have been going up in recent years, and a plan to build an electricity-generating wind farm collapsed, making the goal impossible to reach in the near term.

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.

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."

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