Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 2, 2012

Green Mountain College has delayed a controversial plan to slaughter two oxen because local slaughterhouses have received threats from outside groups about actions that would be taken if they kill the animals, the Associated Press reported. The college prides itself on sustainability, and says that when one ox became unable to continue working, the right thing to do from an environmental perspective was to slaughter the oxen and to serve their meat in the dining hall. But animal rights groups and others have mounted online campaigns to save the oxen.

November 2, 2012

The National Student Clearinghouse is taking over management of the University of Texas at Austin's SPEEDE server, which more than 300 colleges use at no charge to process electronic transcripts and share student academic records, the two entities announced Wednesday. The clearinghouse quickly followed Thursday with another announcement making clear that it would continue to provide SPEEDE's services free, presumably in response to questions from many registrars and admissions officials about whether the much larger organization would seek to privatize, or at least monetize, its new operation. Also on Thursday, a corporate player in the e-transcript space, Parchment, announced its own collaboration to create a gateway for electronic academic records.

 

November 2, 2012

Graham Spanier, for years a leader in higher education as president of Pennsylvania State University, was indicted Thursday on charges of concealing information about suspected child abuse involving Jerry Sandusky, obstructing the criminal investigation of Sandusky, perjury before a grand jury and endangering the welfare of children. The charges came a year after the scandal involving Sandusky became public. While the former assistant football coach has been convicted of dozens of counts of sexual abuse of minors, Spanier is accused of failing to report Sandusky to authorities. "This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children," said Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania's attorney general, in a statement.

Spanier was fired by Penn State shortly after the scandal broke and has been on sabbatical with the assumption he would soon return to a faculty role. The university announced Thursday that Spanier was being placed on leave, and that Penn State would have no further comment about the legal proceedings.

One of Spanier's lawyers released a statement defending the former president. "Graham Spanier has committed no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name and well-earned national reputation for integrity. This presentment is a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man. And if these charges ever come to trial, we will prove it."

 

November 2, 2012

India has a new minister in charge of higher education. M M Pallam Raju assumed control of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on Wednesday. The former minister Kapil Sibal -- who remains in control of the telecommunications ministry -- is well-known internationally as an advocate for opening India to foreign universities. A bill that would regulate foreign branch campuses has been stalled in India’s Parliament for more than two years.

November 2, 2012

The Education Department on Thursday released final rules to make income-contingent repayment more generous and to make it easier for permanent disabled borrowers to discharge their loans. The rules, the result of negotiated rule-making sessions early this year, bring the income-contingent repayment program in line with an executive order President Obama issued in January. The new program, now officially named "Pay As You Earn," reduces monthly payments to 10 percent of a borrowers' discretionary income for borrowers in financial distress and discharge the loans after 20 years.

For borrowers who are permanently disabled, the rules take several steps to streamline the discharge process, including accepting the Social Security Administration's designation of disability and simplifying the process so that disabled borrowers must submit only one application to the Education Department, rather than separate applications to each of their loan servicers.

November 2, 2012

The University of Richmond is eliminating its men’s soccer and track and field teams to make way for a men’s lacrosse team, The Washington Post reported Thursday, for unclear reasons but with help from a $3 million endowment spearheaded by major, anonymous donors. More than 50 students competed on the two teams that are to be cut at the end of this academic year. Only eight of the students -- all men’s soccer players -- were on athletic scholarship. A task force charged with reviewing the university’s sport offerings apparently reported in April that men’s lacrosse be added without eliminating any other sports, though it would have cost $2 million. Athletes and coaches said that they hadn’t been given a proper explanation, that they were misled about the implications of adding lacrosse, and that many students would transfer because they will no longer be able to compete.

(Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct an error.)

November 1, 2012

George Lucas, the film producer who is selling his company to Disney for more than $4 billion, plans to put most of the money into an education foundation, The Hollywood Reporter reported, citing a statement from his spokesman. It is unclear whether the funds will go to his existing foundation or a new one.

 

November 1, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Ephraim Fischbach of Purdue University reveals how solar flares may soon be predicted through measuring variability in nuclear decay rates. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

November 1, 2012

A medical research facility at New York University lost thousands of laboratory mice during Hurricane Sandy, NBC News reported. Staff members tried to save the mice but were unable to do so, given the severity of the storm and the speed with which it hit the city. Some research projects could be delayed by years as a result of the losses.

 

 

November 1, 2012

A student at Lorain County Community College was arrested Wednesday after an instructor overheard him say that he wanted to leave class because Governor Mitt Romney was in town and the student wanted to shoot him, the Associated Press reported. The student, who was charged with inducing panic, told police that he was just making a joke and that he didn't even have a gun.

 

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