Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities shouldn't wait for the cities and towns where they are located to hit them up for tax payments (as often happens when economic woes grow) -- they should work with municipalities to craft fair and clear-cut arrangements, a new report argues. The report, from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, examines the deals known as "payments in lieu of taxes" (or PILOTs), and characterizes them as a logical way for tax-exempt colleges and other groups to both pay for the public services they use and provide much-needed revenue to their home areas. But the arrangements "are often haphazard, secretive, and calculated in an ad hoc manner that results in widely varying payments among similar nonprofits," says the report, in arguing for more thoughtful approaches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Louisville has named Walter Mischel, psychology professor and Niven professor of humane letters at Columbia University, as the winner of the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. He was honored for research showing that willpower can be learned – and that those who have it benefit over the long run. The honor provides Mischel with $100,000.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Amsterdam has agreed to give Justus Eisfeld a new diploma to replace the one he received when he was a woman and graduated, the Associated Press reported. The university agreed to provide the new diploma after an equal opportunity commission said the refusal to do so would amount to discrimination.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Raynard S. Kington, the new president at Grinnell College, said he was attracted to the institution by its commitment to social justice. The college has now announced a new award -- in which up to $300,000 will be awarded annually to honor people under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in promoting positive social change. Up to three awards -- each splitting $100,000 between an individual and an organization committed to the individual's ideals of social justice -- will be made each year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Phoenix is eliminating 700 jobs through layoffs, primarily in admissions departments, the university's parent company, the Apollo Group, announced Monday. “In recent months, we have accelerated the shift in our approach to student admissions, and have refined our business model. These staffing reductions are intended to better align our operations with these business decisions," a Phoenix official told Barrons.com.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Tex., accepted an invitation Monday to join the Big East Conference, effective summer 2012. TCU will become the conference's 17th member institution and the ninth to play football. The Big East primarily spans the Rust Belt, from the eastern portion of the Midwest into the Northeast. TCU will join the University of South Florida, which joined the conference in 2005, as the other geographical outlier in the conference. Many critics believe the TCU-Big East deal was struck to ensure that Texas Christian gains and the rest of the conference maintains their status as "automatic qualifiers" for the Bowl Championship Series, the controversial system that helps decide the national title winner in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). This year, TCU's football team finished with a perfect 12-0 record in the regular season, but it still may not have the chance to play for a national title because it is a member of the Mountain West Conference, a "non-automatic qualifier." Monday's announcement follows a tumultuous season in college football in which many major conferences expanded beyond their traditional geographic boundaries, primarily for economic reasons.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Hundreds of teaching assistants at the University of California have vowed to vote against a tentative contract deal negotiated on their behalf by their union, which is part of the United Auto Workers, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. Five members of the bargaining team for the union have endorsed the drive to reject the contract. The contract would provide some gains in pay and benefits, and the union leaders and its dissenters differ on whether those gains go far enough. The union's website offers reasons to approve the contract, while this site offers reasons to reject it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the right of Virginia's alcohol regulatory board to ban alcohol-related advertisements in student newspapers. The appeals court reversed a lower court's ruling, and its decision conflicts with one from a different appeals court, which in 2004 found a similar ban in Pennsylvania to be in violation of the First Amendment. Student newspapers have opposed such bans both on First Amendment grounds and for practical reasons (alcohol ads are a good revenue source for many publications).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal review panel is backing the claim of the Hoonah T'akdeintaan clan, a Native American group, that it is entitled to the return of a collection of 40 or so objects in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The objects have been housed at Penn for decades, but clan members say that the collection includes sacred objects. Penn has offered to return eight objects and to co-curate the remainder with clan members, but they are pushing for the return of the full collection. A Penn spokeswoman said that she was disappointed by the federal panel's ruling backing the Hoonah T'akdeintaan claim on the collection, and that the university remained hopeful of working out a mutually agreeable resolution.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and other British institutions have been hiring a number of leaders in recent years from American universities. Today Tufts University announces that its next president will be Anthony P. Monaco, pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at Oxford and a noted neuroscientist who identified the first gene specifically involved in human speech and language. He will succeed Lawrence S. Bacow next summer. Before his appointment as pro-vice-chancellor, Monaco was director of Oxford's Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics, now the largest externally funded, university-based research center in Britain. While the next Tufts president has spent 20 years at Oxford, he is a native of Wilmington, Del., who grew up in modest circumstances as the son of a plumber and was a first-generation college student at Princeton University.

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