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Iowa State University may be one of the first higher-education institutions to make an individual commitment to help alleviate the nationwide shortage of science and mathematics teachers.

The university has established an aid program that will offer four-year, full-tuition loans to as many as 20 Iowa students a year who enroll in the school's teacher-training program in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, or physics over the next three years. For every year that the students teach in Iowa following their graduation, 25 percent of their loan will be forgiven.

Further information and application forms are available from Lynn W. Glass, College of Education, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011.

"Problems today aren't so clearly moral as they seemed 10 or 15 years ago. Students then felt there was a wrong and a right. Period. Today, nothing is so obvious or blatant. There's a wide range of opinion about issues, but people look back at campus radicalism and joke about that behavior. They can't picture themselves storming over to a building to do battle. Now, you sit down at meetings and decide what to do."

So says David Meyer, editor-in-chief of The Michigan Daily this year, about the attitudes of today's college students toward political activism. The views of Mr. Meyer and other college students reflect what they call "pragmatic idealism," according to a Feb. 20 Parade magazine report on the current mood on campus. But their less-than-flamboyant grappling with realities, argues the former radical activist Abbie Hoffman, "may produce a social revolution of deeper significance than was brought forward by their predecessors of the 1960's."

"I can take you to any campus and point out young people fighting to preserve their corner of America the Beautiful," Mr. Hoffman writes. "They don't have to 'kick in the door.' They are convinced that fundamental changes in the balance of power, in the way decisions are made from the grassroots to the highest levels, are not just a democratic dream but a reality about to occur. They have the confidence to make it happen."

A university official who is an authority on computers has told members of Congress that college and university students need about four times as much access to computers as the average 10 hours per year they now have.

The estimated cost of providing that access would be about $1-billion a year, Robert G. Gillespie, vice-provost for computing at the University of Washington, told members of the House Science and Technology Committee. Colleges and universities now spend about $300 million annually on computer-assisted instruction, he said.

Richard L. Van Horn, provost of Carnegie-Mellon University, considered one of the nation's most advanced institutions in the use of computers for management and instruction, testified that liberal-arts colleges are facing a capital investment of about $1,000 per student to install a "reasonable" computer system on campus. "High-technology schools," he said, can expect to invest about $6,000 per student. Carnegie-Mellon plans to spend $20 million over the next five years equipping its 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students with sophisticated equipment, he said.

Both officials urged the establishment of a program of federal matching grants to support colleges' purchase of computer equipment.

et phone Jack Nicklaus?

Ohio State University is in the unenviable position of having to figure out what it might do with one extremely large radio telescope if it is forced to remove the costly piece of equipment from land that may become an addition to a country club's golf course.

The 27-year-old telescope, which takes up the space of three football fields and is used by Ohio State researchers in the nation's longest-running search for extraterrestrial intelligence, was constructed on property lent to the university by Ohio Wesleyan University, which may now want to sell the land to the Delaware Country Club.

The university could use blimps or helicopters to move the telescope's antennas to another site, but officials say that would be an expensive and "undesirable" alternative to leaving the device where it is.

Students at nearby Jones Junior High School are abetting the effort to prevent the sale of the land on which "Big Ear" rests by writing letters to state and federal officials.

Northwestern University will voluntarily pay the city of Evanston $225,000 in utility taxes that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the city could not legally impose.

The city will lose $2.5 million in revenue as a result of the court's decision, which struck down the city's 3-percent tax on natural gas, electric power, and telephone service.

The university is paying the $225,000 as a "one-time only" arrangement to help pull Evanston out of a financial crisis, according to Charles Loebbaka, press manager for the university.

Mr. Loebbaka calls the payment "an act of good faith." It is not related, he says, to a plan introduced in the city council last fall to levy a tax on Northwestern students. The tax, if accepted by the council, could amount to as much as 1.5 percent of annual tuition, or $120 per student per year, under one alderman's proposal.

Applications from Vermont high-school seniors for 15 full-tuition scholarships at the University of Vermont jumped from 72 in 1982, the first year the scholarships were available, to more than 200 this year, according to Jeff Kaplan, the university's admissions director.

Student-loan recipients may have some good news: If payments on U.S. Treasury bills stay below 9 percent, interest on student loans could drop to 8 percent as soon as May, according to government officials.--mm & sr

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