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Behind the News

The University of Utah will launch a fleet of electric buses this fall to shuttle some 47,000 students, staff, and administrators around its 1,500-acre campus. Forty buses, similar to the one pictured here, have been ordered from BYD, a Chinese company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. The drawback to electric buses in the past has been battery weight. But the BYD buses use a much lighter rechargeable battery, so they can carry more passengers.

Apps help new students build social bonds and keep up on campus news.

Students and technology go hand in hand, especially when you hand out smartphones at orientation. Seton Hall University (N.J.) did just that with Nokia Lumia 900 smartphones during orientation in June. “It’s an exciting time here at Seton Hall,” says David Middleton, assistant vice president for administration and executive director of the university’s Center for Mobile Research and Innovation. “This is part of an ongoing effort we’ve been taking on for a few years,” he says, adding that students also receive a PC.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr.

Indiana Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. will put his two terms’ worth of experience as Indiana’s 49th governor to use as president of Purdue University (Ind.) beginning in January. He will be its 12th president, succeeding France A. Córdova, who stepped down July 15. Daniels was elected governor in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 with the largest number of votes ever recorded by any candidate for public office in state history.

J. Michael Adams, president of Fairleigh Dickinson University (N.J.) since 1999, has retired, effective June 30.

Teresa A. Sullivan, forced to resign as president from U.Va. on June 10, was reinstated June 26.

In the two weeks between University of Virginia board members controversially asking Teresa A. Sullivan to resign her position of president on June 10 and her reinstatement on June 26, the university faced donors pulling out and an outpouring of public support for Sullivan.

Sullivan, who began her term on Aug. 1, 2010 after she was unanimously elected by the Board of Visitors in January of that year, was fired on June 10 for reasons that have largely not been made public.

Officials at Manchester Community College and across the state are working to increase the number of graduates in STEM fields such as biology.

Students, residents, and employers of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field graduates in New Hampshire will be hearing a whole lot more about these areas of study in coming years. Representatives from the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire signed a letter of commitment last month that lays out steps to meet a big goal: increase STEM-educated graduates by 50 percent by 2020, and then double that number by 2025. Currently, the two systems graduate about 1,120 students in these areas.

Plagiarism is a widespread problem, and with anytime, anywhere internet access, it only seems to get worse. As part of a study published last summer by The Pew Research Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of 1,055 college presidents surveyed said they had seen a rise in plagiarism in the last 10 years. (Just 2 percent thought that it had decreased.)

Harvard President Drew Faust (left) and MIT President Susan Hockfield announce edX.

At the beginning of the 21st century, MIT began a bold, pioneering experiment in bringing higher learning to the masses. Originally intended for students traveling abroad to keep up with their studies, the OpenCourseWare Project enabled anyone to access the OCW site and read course materials from more than 2,000 MIT classes. While there was no interaction with faculty and no grades or credit given for doing any of the work, it opened the door to a variety of possibilities for online learning.

UC Davis demonstrators rallied a week after police pepper-sprayed peaceful demonstrators during an anti-Wall Street protest.

Ever since the University of California system was criticized for the campus police reaction to student protests in 2011—namely the use of pepper spray at UC Davis and batons at UC Berkeley—the system has been investigating and reevaluating its protest reaction policies.

Fraternities and sororities are at the core of numerous institutions’ social traditions. But as several universities and their Greek organizations have come under fire for excessive drinking and violent behavior, Ivy League schools have stepped up to make changes to the system. With the implementation of new policies and penalties, a few are hoping to curb behaviors often associated with Greek life pledging—and the negative image these behaviors create in the public eye.

In the midst of the debate in Congress over whether or not to double interest rates on Federal student loans in July comes another hot-button aid issue—states are running out of aid money altogether. At the end of March, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announced it would need to suspend making Monetary Award Program (MAP) awards for FAFSAs filed on or after March 14.

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