A new study of more than 1,200 students who answered questions throughout four years at a mid-Atlantic university found that among those at age 20, 20 percent drove while intoxicated, and that 43 percent had been passengers in a car driven by someone who was intoxicated. The odds for either behavior were greater for male students, and went up at age 21. The latter finding, the paper says, could be an argument against the move to lower the drinking age. The study was conducted by Amelia M. Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and results will appear in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A state judge ruled Wednesday that researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison may be held criminally liable for the deaths of sheep in decompression experiments, and authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the matter, Isthmus reported. The ruling by a judge in Dane County, Wisc., came after animal rights groups urged local law enforcement officials to pursue criminal charges against nine university faculty and staff members. The groups said that the deaths, in research examining the effects of decompression (or "the bends"), violated state law that prohibits the killing of animals through decompression, and Judge Amy Smith concluded that "probable cause" exists to conclude that the researchers violated the law. The state prosecutor who brought the charges concluded that no exception existed for research. Madison officials could not be reached for comment.
New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a former dean at Mercer County Community College, who is now 79, was the victim of illegal age discrimination when the college declined in 2005 to renew her appointment, The Star-Ledger reported. The college had cited her status as an "at will employee" and the fact that the former dean worked on a series of contracts, and that the last contract was simply not renewed. Rose Nini, the former dean, said that the then-president in 2004 made it clear he thought she was too old to be working. The court ruled that she was covered by the law. Nini and the college had earlier reached a settlement in the case, but the Supreme Court went ahead with its ruling.
Illinois lawmakers continue to debate the state's system of allowing legislators to award scholarships to college students in their districts -- with little oversight over whether the awards benefit political allies or donors. The Chicago Tribune reported on how one lawmaker used his funds -- not even following the minimal rule that recipients live in his district. One lawmaker gave out $94,000 to the four children of a political supporter, with the students saying they lived in the legislator's district even though they lived elsewhere and neither of their parents lived in the district.
Canada's government is boasting of great success in attracting top researchers from around the world to Canadian universities through a new program to promote research excellence. But many social scientists in the country are concerned about the lack of anyone from their disciplines being named to one of the special chairs, Maclean's reported.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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A study presented at this week's meeting of the Association for Institutional Research raises questions about what the Collegiate Learning Assessment is really measuring -- at least at one campus. The CLA has been adopted by many colleges to measure gains in students' critical thinking and other skills over the course of their undergraduate education -- with the test given to freshmen and seniors, to examine gains in various cohorts. Braden J. Hosch, director of institutional research at Central Connecticut State University, examined his institution's scores and found a correlation between the time students take on the test and their scores. He found that in a cohort in which students performed better, the average time spent on the test was 63 minutes, compared to 45 minutes in a year in which scores were lower. The finding could reinforce one criticism of the CLA: that because it is given to a small sample of students, who take it voluntarily, results may be skewed by how motivated students are to give their best effort.
Shaw University's national alumni association is calling on the historically black college's trustees to resign, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The alumni say that the board has not done enough -- through leadership and donations -- to help the financially struggling university. The chairman of the board -- who said that he did not expect trustees to quit -- has failed to make scheduled payments on his $10 million pledge to Shaw.
Sarah Palin will earn $75,000 (and travel expenses) for a speech at California State University at Stanislaus, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing sources who have seen the contract. The appearance at a fund-raising event has been controversial, and there has been much speculation about the fees involved, which the university has declined to reveal. Many have questioned why a large sum would be paid amid deep budget cuts -- especially to a figure about whom views are sharply divided. While Palin's visit continues to be controversial, the Associated Press reported that a local district attorney has found no criminal acts in an investigation of documents about the appearance that were destroyed.
University College London has fined a student £300 for starting FitFinder, a Web site the student has since abandoned that lets students flirt with one another, The Times of London reported. The student started the site at his university and it quickly became a hit among students across Britain. University College London officials said that they received complaints from other universities that the site was distracting students and so urged the student to bring it down and fined him for "bringing the the college into disrepute."