Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 2, 2012

Authorities expect to make several charges -- some of them felonies -- today in the investigation into the hazing death last year of a student at Florida A&M University, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Several people will be charged. The student who died was in the university's marching band, famous for its performances and also blamed for years for hazing incidents. On Tuesday, three more members of a special committee formed by the university to study hazing issues resigned, the Sentinel reported. The university created a panel of national experts on the issue, but a majority of members have now quit, citing Florida's open meetings laws, which would have prevented them from meeting in private.

 

May 2, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Edmund Yeh of Northeastern University explains how the structure of the Internet could be changed to improve efficiency. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 2, 2012

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has agreed to pay $450 million to Brigham Young University to settle a lawsuit over the drug Celebrex, The Deseret News reported. Brigham Young and one of its professors have accused the company of unfairly using his work conducted at the university for the drug. The announcement of the settlement did not detail terms, but a footnote in a quarterly report issued by Pfizer references a $450 million expense related to the Brigham Young suit.

May 2, 2012

Authorities in China have arrested two education brokers and 18 students for trying to fraudulently win admission to Korean universities, The Korea Herald reported. The scheme is alleged to involve creating fake high school diplomas and other school records for the students, who do not meet standards for admission to Korean universities. Chinese authorities are expanding their investigation, expecting to find more such cases.

May 2, 2012

Brown University agreed Tuesday to pay the City of Providence $31.5 million over 11 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, ending a contentious standoff in which city officials threatened to revoke the university’s tax-exempt status if the institution would not help the city fill its budget deficit. Brown, along with four other colleges in the city, had an agreement in place since 2003 to pay the city $50 million over 20 years, but city officials hoped to rework the agreement as the city’s financial problems became clear.

May 1, 2012

An American Bar Association panel reviewing law school accrediting requirements is divided on whether to continue to mandate that law schools use the Law School Admissions Test. The panel has agreed to put forward two versions on the issue: one that continues the requirement, and one that does not. Statements attached to current versions of the accrediting proposal praise the LSAT, but differ on whether it is appropriate for an accrediting body to require any particular admissions test. It is unclear how many law schools would drop the LSAT if they had that option (while maintaining ABA accreditation), but some law schools have already sought waivers for some applicants, and test-optional admissions policies have become popular with many undergraduate institutions.

May 1, 2012

The Tennessee Senate passed a bill Monday that would require Vanderbilt University to change its anti-bias policies with regard to student organizations, The Tennessean reported. Vanderbilt uses an "all comers" policy of the sort that has been upheld for public institutions by the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that to be recognized as an official student organization, groups cannot discriminate against any student who wants to participate. Some religious groups argue that this endangers their identities as those who do not share their faith could demand leadership positions in the groups. Defenders of such policies note that groups without official recognition can continue to limit membership and can engage in much campus activity, but typically must do so with their own funds rather than university funds. Lawmakers in Tennessee, prompted by the Vanderbilt case, are moving to bar public universities in the state from adopting policies similar to those of Vanderbilt (even though they haven't indicated any plans to do so). And on Monday, the Senate voted to add private institutions to the bill.

 

May 1, 2012

The key action corporate leaders can take to improve higher education is to advocate for state-level policies that provide incentives for boosting productivity and that remove barriers to innovation, according to a report released Monday by the Committee for Economic Development. The nonprofit business group called for a focus on "broad-access" institutions, particularly less selective public colleges, two-year institutions and for-profits, because those colleges face the biggest challenges in educating the American workforce. But change does not come from within, the report argues, so businesses must work with state policymakers to nudge colleges to adapt innovations. As for specific policies, the group called for statewide degree attainment goals and performance funding based on student outcomes, rather than inputs.

May 1, 2012

The Simons Foundation today plans to announced a $60 million grant to the University of California at Berkeley to create a center for the study of the theory of computing, The New York Times reported. The newspaper reported that the work to be done in the center reflects the breadth of fields from the physical and social sciences in which computing theory has growing influence.

May 1, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Allen Hurlbert of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals how different species of migratory birds are responding to global climate change. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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