9:58am

Thu March 3, 2011
Morning news round-up: higher ed

Victory for University at Buffalo's UB2020 plan

The University at Buffalo's "UB2020" plan has cleared the state Senate, reports Mike Desmond at WNED:

Senators Mark Grisanti and Timothy Kennedy persuaded enough senators that the bill passed 53-to-1, after the plan died on the Senate floor in August.

Kennedy told the Senate the bill is vital to the economy of this region and all of Upstate.

"Tens of thousands of jobs have left Western New York in the last decade. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have left Upstate New York in the last several decades. We need to reverse these trends. We need to take unique steps, bold steps, that are unique to various regions of this state," said Kennedy

Senator Grisanti says the bill was changed to provide scholarships and locked in tuition for the state's neediest students to keep them in school.

Tom Precious at the Buffalo News has reaction from SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher and UB's president:

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said the UB 2020 bill will help Buffalo and the region. But she said she has "an obligation to advocate for the entire system" and hopes for a tuition and public/private partnership plan for all 64 campuses.

The bill's advocates say its first passage in the Senate relatively early in the legislative session gives time for negotiations with the Assembly.

UB President John Simpson said the bill's provisions "are absolutely necessary as a way to provide the state's students with access to world-class public higher education and give UB the opportunity to help revitalize the Western New York economy through academic and research excellence."

MBAs
More MBA programs are stepping up to help business students hone their writing skills and presentation skills, reports Diana Middleton at the Wall Street Journal.  Some schools, like the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business, are hiring "writing coaches:"

At Rochester, the writing classes are not given grades. Students are given either a passing or failing mark. "I have mixed feelings about the fact that it's pass or fail," says Rochester student Jonathan Han. "On one hand, it eases the stress of having to do perfectly on every assignment, but it reduces the incentive to take it as seriously."

Not all students view writing coaching as important. When Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management offered a choice of electives to its executive M.B.A. students, it offered a writing class, as well as an oral communication class. While students jumped at the speech class, not enough students signed up for the writing class for the school to offer it, says Douglas Stayman, associate dean for M.B.A. programs.

Binghamton University
Binghamton University is planning a "Globalization Center," as part of its plans for its new Vestal camps.  George Basler reports at the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

The new Globalization Center would consolidate international programs in one location, said Ellen Badger, director of international student and scholar services, who said she is thrilled with the idea. International enrollment at the university now totals 2,196 students from 90 foreign countries, and the university is expanding partnerships with foreign universities and academic offerings.

Other parts of the master plan include:

* Development of a new student services and academic center.

* Major renovation work at the Bartle Library and at the engineering building and fine arts buildings.

* Expansion of the science complex to include two additions to existing buildings that would provide expanded capacity and research space.

Cornell University
Cornell has netted $40 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. to develop wheat genes that are resistant to "rust."  The Ithaca Journal has more:

"We cannot overstate the importance of this for addressing the causes of poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world," said Ronnie Coffman, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics and director of the project.

"Against the backdrop of rising food prices, and wheat in particular, researchers worldwide will be able to play an increasingly vital role in protecting wheat fields from dangerous new forms of stem rust, particularly in countries whose people can ill afford the economic impact of damage to this vital crop."

MIT/University of Rochester
Matthew Murray at PC Magazine reports that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be conducting a "variation" on a 1987 University of Rochester experiment:

[Computer science professor Scott] Aaronson and [graduate student Alex] Arkhipov will propose a variation on a 1987 experiment conducted at the University of Rochester. It relied on a beam splitter, which splits an incoming light beam into two beams traveling in different directions: If two identical photons reached the splitter simultaneously, they will both assume that they traveled the same path rather than different ones. Over enough runs of a test using a sufficient number of photon detectors, it may be possible to predict the photons' path.

According to an MIT press release, however, there are numerous challenges to overcome. "Calculating...the likelihood of photons striking a given combination of detectors...is a hard problem. The researchers' experiment doesn't solve it outright, but every successful execution of the experiment does take a sample from the solution set. One of the key findings in Aaronson and Arkhipov's paper is that, not only is calculating the distribution a hard problem, but so is simulating the sampling of it. For an experiment with more than, say, 100 photons, it would probably be beyond the computational capacity of all the computers in the world."

Clarkson University
Engineers at Clarkson have built an attachment for trailer trucks that could save drivers up to $1,500 a year on fuel costs, reports the Innovation Trail's Ryan Morden.

Five year triple play
Rochester's St. John Fisher and Monroe Community College are teaming up to help students earn an associates, a bachelor of science, and an MBA in just five years, reports Nate Dougherty at the Rochester Business Journal.

SUNY
The union representing college employees has launched a lobbying campaign to protest cuts to SUNY, reports Cara Matthews at Politics on the Hudson.

The TV ad encourages viewers to tell state lawmakers not to cut SUNY funding and to “Think ahead, invest in higher ed.” The spot opens with what seems to be a young man getting ready to attend college, according to UUP. What it really is, though, is a student packing up his dorm room because he has to leave college. State budget cuts have led to fewer courses, crowded classes and fewer professors to teach more students. That means it will take the student five or more years to graduate instead of four, which his family can’t afford.

Here's the ad they're running:

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