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College roundup

Cruise ship provides housing for Tulane

Two hundred returning professors, staff and students to Tulane University are boarding the Dream Princess cruise ship in the Port of New Orleans-but not so they can venture the seas.

The University has leased the 1,076-passenger Israeli-owned vessel this semester in order to accommodate for the loss of certain buildings adjacent to the Tulane campus during Hurricane Katrina.

New residents of the liner await the start of classes Jan. 17.


UConn to ante up millions to feds

The University of Connecticut will pay the federal government $2.5-million to settle allegations that it overcharged the government on more than 500 research grants from 1997 to 2004.

According to the settlement agreement, the university allegedly did not update costs it billed to these grants after 1996. Federal rules on federal research grants require such updating once every two years.

In addition, the agreement says, the institution allowed principal investigators to bill their summer salaries to grants even though they received annual salaries that already covered those months.

The government also claimed the university failed to make cost-sharing contributions toward research expenses out of its own institutional funds at levels it had promised as a condition of grant awards.


Korean school apologizes for research

Seoul National University, South Korea's top university, apologized Wednesday for the scandal over Hwang Woo-suk's faked stem cell research, noting that it tarnishes the country that embraced the scientist as a national hero.

The government said it would withdraw Hwang's "top scientist" title-an honor created especially for him in the wake of purported breakthroughs that raised hopes for using stem cells to develop new treatments of diseases from Alzheimer's to diabetes.

Seoul National University's apology came a day after its investigative panel confirmed that Hwang faked all of his human stem cell research, including his landmark 2004 claim in the journal Science that he cloned a human embryo and extracted stem cells from it.

"I, as the president of the university, sincerely apologize to the public," Chung Un-chan, the head of the state-run institution, told a nationally televised news conference.

He called Hwang's fraud a "blemish on the whole scientific community as well as our country" and a "criminal act in academia."


Dillard students enjoy hotel rooms

Free cable TV, rooms with a view and twice-a-week maid service-the New Orleans Hilton Riverside trumps a stay in a dormitory any day, say Dillard University students who started their first day of classes at the upscale hotel Monday.

The campus of the 135-year-old historically black university was flooded by Hurricane Katrina barely two weeks after the start of the fall term, and the students had to finish the semester at other schools across the country.

Other area schools are reopening their campuses this month, but Dillard is still closed because of severe flood and fire damage estimated at $400 million.

Roughly half of Dillard's pre-Katrina 2,200 students have returned for this semester, and 800 are living at the Hilton, along the Mississippi River.

"I see all the boats and ships that pass by. It's nice," freshman Alexander Bumpers said of his 12th floor room.

Most classes are scheduled at the hotel, but some also are being held at the nearby World Trade Center, or at Tulane and Xavier universities.

Student fees have not increased from last semester, university spokesperson Wendy Waren said.

The cost for them to stay at the Hilton is being subsidized with insurance money, she added.


UNC ranked best value public university

For a fifth consecutive time, Kiplinger's Magazine has ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the best value among public universities.

Other schools making the top five include the University of Florida, University of Virginia, The College of William & Mary and New College of Florida.

North Carolina State University ranked 28th. UNC-Wilmington University, Appalachian State University and UNC-Asheville University also made the top 50.


Early decision applications rise in 2005

After a one-year lull, "early decision" college applications seem to have picked up again this fall around the country, worrying some experts who think the trend shows the admissions process is starting too early in students' high school years.

Using the early decision process allows students to lock in to their top choice as first-semester seniors in high school, making the rest of the year relatively stress-free.

It may also boost applicant's chances by a showing a college it is that student's top choice.

But some worry that too many students apply early to try and beat the system, hoping the tactic will demonstrate enough enthusiasm to sneak them into a tough school.

The risk, however, is getting stuck with a bad match or inadequate financial aid.

Last year, for the first time since surveys on early decision began in 1999, more colleges reported these applications were down than up from the year before.

But this fall, 53 percent of colleges got more applications than last year, compared to 25 percent who said they got fewer, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.


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