Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The Obama Administration Cabinet, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius standing between Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton.

The Denver Post, in a story by Anthony Cotton, covers the details of yesterday’s briefing by Barry Shur, dean of the Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver.  Dean Shur talked about the neuroscience program in which James Eagan Holmes was enrolled.

Mr. Holmes, the alleged shooter in the Aurora, Colorado murders of July 20, 2012, received an oral exam last month administered by three professors.  The exam was given to measure Mr. Holmes’ knowledge of coursework completed during the school year.

On June 10, 2012, three days after taking the exam, Mr. Holmes withdrew from the program.  On the form indicating his voluntary withdrawal, Mr. Holmes did not give a reason.

Mr. Holmes received a $171,024 grant from the National Institutes of Health for his first year of study.  Of that amount, $26,000 was available for personal expenses.

The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under the direction of Kathleen Sebelius.

UPDATE 7/24/2012:
The news story linked above has been corrected by The Denver Post to indicate that $176,000 in grant money from the Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development partly funds six pre-doctoral students who each receive $1,800 per month.

UPDATE 7/25/2012:
As the content of the story appears to be in a state of revision, here is the original text of the story from the 7/24/2012 print version of The Denver Post:

The dean of the University of Colorado Denver graduate school that James Eagan Holmes withdrew from last month said Monday that the school had rigorous measures in place to monitor, coach and counsel students who may have been having academic or personal problems.

“If any program would be put on a pedestal, it would be this one,” said Barry Shur, speaking of the neuroscience program that Holmes was enrolled in.

Holmes, 24, is accused of fatally shooting 12 people early Friday morning in an Aurora movie theater during a showing of the new Batman movie.  Fifty-eight others were injured, many critically.

Shur was a participant in a 45-minute briefing that included CU-Denver Chancellor Don Elliman, executive vice chancellor Lilly Marks and Doug Abraham, the chief of police on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

The officials, referring to the ongoing investigation, would not answer specific questions about him or his academic standing.  They did say Holmes withdrew from the program June 10, three days after taking a preliminary oral examination before three professors.

The exam measures knowledge of core coursework done during the school year, and Shur said anyone who struggles academically or personally is given help so they can continue in the program.

“It’s very, very rare for a student to be terminated for academic reasons.  The percentage of students we admit who don’t receive their Ph.D. is very small,” he said.  “In the neuroscience program, there’s remediation; there’s the ability for the student to retake the examination.”

Holmes received $171,024 from the National Institutes of Health for his first year in the program.  Of that total, $26,000 is allotted for “personal expenses.”

When officials were asked whether that money could have been used to buy weapons or ammunition, Elliman and Shur said they could not comment because it is part of the ongoing investigation.

“It’s considered an honor to receive the grant,” Shur said.

The neuroscience program is one of about a dozen Ph.D. programs on campus, focusing on how the brain works, specifically how the nervous system processes information.  In existence since 1986, the program is funded, in part, by training grants from the NIH, awarded to “the most prestigious Ph.D. training programs in the country,” Shur said.

CU receives about 10 applications to the program each year, with five or six students admitted.  Shur said there are about 35 students enrolled in the four-year program, which has had great success, he added, in areas such as drug treatment for Down syndrome, injuries to the central nervous system and treatment for the prevention of strokes.

During the first year of the program, students choose three faculty members and do 12-week rotations within that instructor’s specific discipline.  At the end of the year, the student chooses one of the faculty members to be his thesis mentor.

When Holmes withdrew, he was required to fill out a form saying it was voluntary.  Program directors then sign off on it and send it to the dean.  As part of that process, the directors try to determine why the student is leaving the program.  However, Holmes left that area blank on his withdrawal form.

Shur said that paperwork was being processed for Holmes but had not been completed.

“You have to understand that the program directors are with these students daily.  This is not something where they’re saying, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll see the student in six months,’ ” he said.  “This is a family.  It’s a team-building environment.  They’re very much in contact with the students in the program.

“Especially with any student that might have any kind of academic or other difficulty – those are the ones that program leadership would focus their interest on, more than anyone, the students who are in need of help.”

School officials said a background check is required for any student applying to the school.  Elliman said he felt that the university had done all it could.
UPDATE 7/27/2012:
Howard Nemerov has an interesting viewpoint on gun control.  (h/t Glenn Reynolds)

UPDATE 8/5/2012:
Karen Auge and Jennifer Brown, writing in the Denver Post, provide information on the program in which James Holmes was enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver.

No comments:

Post a Comment