Higher Education Quick Takes
Following a faculty vote, Tufts University will note successful participation in a Reserve Officer Training Corps on graduates' final transcripts. Though Tufts does not have a ROTC unit on campus, some students train with other ROTC units in the Boston area, and that is not expected to change. But in the wake of the law authorizing the end of "don't ask, don't tell," faculty members voted to more formally acknowledge ROTC service, which has not previously been listed on transcripts. The faculty voted down a proposal that would have noted that service semester-by-semester, opting only for the designation on final transcripts.
A new WikiLeaks cable shows that the U.S. Embassy in Canada is worried about "anti-American biases" in Canadian universities, The National Post reported. The cable describes incidents observed by an embassy official taking courses at a university in Ottawa of students and faculty members criticizing U.S. policy.
With the smoke not yet cleared from the U.S. Education Department's last round of negotiated rule making -- which produced a series of new regulations aimed at strengthening the integrity of federal financial aid programs and took special aim at for-profit colleges -- the agency appears ready for more. In a statement Friday, department officials said that they would soon be announcing the creation of "one or more negotiated rule making committees to prepare proposed regulations under the Higher Education Act of 1965," and that the agency would hold three public hearings this month (in Tacoma, Wash., Chicago, and Charleston, S.C.) "at which interested parties may suggest issues" for the committee(s) to consider. The announcement gave no clue about what the department might seek to explore in the new round of rule making, as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities noted with a bit of trepidation.
Susan Su, the president of Tri-Valley University, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that the institution was a sham university operated as a front to help non-Americans obtain U.S. visas, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Authorities said that Su accepted funds -- allegedly for tuition -- in return for visa assistance, not for education.
A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews, The Seattle Times reported. The study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering -- students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles.
It's now complete: all five of the varsity teams that the University of California at Berkeley planned to kill or downgrade for financial reasons will now survive for the foreseeable future. The university announced last fall that it would eliminate four teams (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse) and change the status of rugby so that it was no longer a full-fledged varsity team. But in February, Berkeley said that alumni had raised enough money to restore rugby, women's gymnastics and lacrosse. A similar announcement about baseball came last month, and Monday, the university said that it had raised $2.5 million for gymnastics -- enough to keep the program alive for at least seven years with some budget cuts.
Amar Bose, the founder of the company with his name that makes high-end audio products, has donated a majority of the corporation's stock to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stipulating that MIT will benefit from dividends, but will not vote on company direction. The New York Times reported that the gift has raised the eyebrows of some tax experts, who note that MIT cannot vote or sell the stock. Some experts told The Times that more detail should be released on the gift, and that it may not be fair to call it a full gift, given the limits on MIT's use of the stock.
President Obama used a commencement speech Friday at Miami Dade College to renew support for legislation that would create a path to U.S. citizenship for college graduates who were brought to the United States as children without documentation to live in the country. Republicans blocked passage of the legislation last year, and Obama acknowledged the political difficulties facing a similar bill this year.
"I know this last issue generates some passion. I know that several young people here have recently identified themselves as undocumented. Some were brought here as young children, and discovered the truth only as adults. And they’ve put their futures on the line in hopes it will spur the rest of us to live up to our most cherished values," he said. "I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system. Fix it so that it meets our 21st-century economic and security needs. And I want to work with Democrats and Republicans, yes, to protect our borders, and enforce our laws, and address the status of millions of undocumented workers. And I will keep fighting alongside many of you to make the DREAM Act the law of the land."
Also at the ceremonies, Obama received his first honorary associate degree.