April 12, 2016
Presidents and chancellors of U.S. universities must take personal responsibility for changing the lab safety culture in academia, a new report says. The document, published by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), challenges top university officials to create high-level committees responsible for lab safety, to modify tenure and promotion requirements to include safety, and to promote open commutation about accidents and near-misses on campuses. Although the report contains other recommendations, the ones putting emphasis on university officials’ accountability are being viewed as most important by the report’s authors and other safety experts.
April 11, 2016
Several major associations issued a new report Monday designed to help universities ensure that their research labs and other academic environments operate safely. The report, "A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities," was produced by a special panel created by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, in response to a series of accidents in laboratories and other research sites. The report, to which the Association of American Universities and other groups also contributed, offers recommendations for campus administrators and faculty members.
April 11, 2016
Math is a stumbling block for many students, and instruction may be part of the reason why. Introductory math courses that serve as gateways to majors in science, technology, engineering, and math can be stultifying bores, a presidential council has said, leaving students "with the impression that all STEM fields are dull and unimaginative." The council’s members have even suggested assigning faculty members from physics or computer science, for example, to teach the subject. Meanwhile, according to a recent critique, math curricula overemphasize abstract subjects like trigonometry and calculus over more-practical ones, unnecessarily demoralizing students and costing the nation human potential.
April 8, 2016
Some of the country’s biggest colleges and universities have pledged to help more students earn degrees, which experts see as a path to the middle-class lifestyle. The American Association of Colleges and Universities and American Public Land-grant Universities, which advocates for policies, has rolled out a program to help more higher-education institutions implement changes to improve student success. “Collaborating for Change [initiative] isn’t just about outlining steps public urban universities can take to improve student success, it’s about helping them actually implement those changes so we can begin to see the progress and improvement that is needed,” said Peter McPherson, president of the APLU.
April 4, 2016
A special investigative panel in the U.S. House of Representatives this week intensified its probe into the use of fetal tissue in biomedical research with a dozen new subpoenas aimed at researchers and abortion providers. This second round of inquiries, two of them directed to individual faculty members at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, deepens concerns among some education groups and scientists that personal information revealed in the investigation could make researchers the target of extremist violence. Several research organizations came to the defense of the university in a letter to Blackburn released yesterday. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) jointly urged the panel to put in place clear rules about how personally identifiable information would be used and safeguarded.
April 4, 2016
Citing disparities in graduation rates between students from rich and poor backgrounds, leaders from a group of public urban universities recently launched a new collaborative initiative to improve completion rates and eliminate the gaps. “We must find solutions,” said Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University, which is one of six urban public institutions participating in “Collaborating for Change”—an initiative launched last week by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU, and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, or USU.
April 1, 2016
Three umbrella groups representing U.S. institutions of higher education have joined in objecting to a special House panel’s requests for documents pertaining to fetal tissue procurement and research, heightening a conflict over the privacy and safety of personnel involved in those activities. “Whatever the intention of the panel, these subpoenas are seen by many as an attempt to intimidate people involved with fetal tissue research,” Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, said in a statement. “The release of names with their institutional connections could well lead to individuals being targeted for harassment or worse. The rhetoric around fetal tissue research already inflames an issue that generates both passionate support and opposition. Of course, Congress has an important oversight role, but we see no legitimate public purpose for collecting vast lists of individuals involved with this research.”
April 1, 2016
The Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities have deep concerns about a Congressional panel’s plan to subpoena universities for the names of faculty members, graduate students and other personnel involved in fetal tissue research. “Many scientists and physicians are deeply concerned for their safety and that of their patients, colleagues and students in light of inflammatory statements and reports surrounding fetal tissue donation,” the associations wrote in a letter Thursday to leaders of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. “We are troubled that this information is being sought without any rules or process in place to govern how the panel will use and protect personally identifiable and other sensitive information. …These requests appear to go beyond the panel’s stated scope of ‘relevant matters with respect to fetal tissue procurement.’”
April 1, 2016
Seven public urban universities have banded together to form a new collaboration aimed at helping more low-income, underrepresented students earn degrees. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities are leading the creation of the new group, which is dubbed Collaborating for Change. “Collaborating for Change isn’t just about outlining steps public urban universities can take to improve student success, it’s about helping them actually implement those changes so we can begin to see the progress and improvement that is needed,” APLU President Peter McPherson said in a written statement.
April 1, 2016
Medical schools and universities are protesting Republicans’ decision to issue subpoenas for the names of researchers involved in fetal tissue studies, saying it could put their safety at risk. The Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents all of the country’s medical schools, expressed its “significant concerns” in a letter on Thursday to the heads of the congressional committee set up to investigate Planned Parenthood. "Initial requests sent to our member institutions failed to articulate why information that identified individuals was being requested and how the Panel intended to use this information,” the letter continues. “No assurances were provided to institutions that the Panel would institute any measures to ensure that this information would be safeguarded." The letter urged committee leaders to establish bipartisan rules on how the information will be used and safeguarded. The Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities joined the letter.