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The Southern Education Foundation has announced an initiative aimed at improving higher-education opportunities for members of minority groups.

The project arose out of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 1992 decision in United States v. Fordice (Case No. 90-1205), which held that states have an affirmative obligation to eliminate all vestiges of segregation in public postsecondary institutions.

The foundation plans to convene a panel to solicit input from students, educators, college and university alumni, lawyers, and public officials on issues related to the Fordice decision.

The foundation will then use information gathered by the panel and a related task force to produce a report setting forth broad recommendations about educational opportunities in public higher education.

The initiative is being supported by a $571,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

Educators, diplomats, and business leaders will meet in Washington next month to examine the possibility of creating an international alliance of higher-education institutions.

The gathering is being convened by the International University of Moscow and Oak Ridge Associated Universities of Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The proposed "International Alliance of Universities'' would serve as a new link between universities in central Europe and the former Soviet Union and their counterparts in the United States, according to project leaders.

Speakers at the November meeting are to include the Russian ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Luken, and Eduard Dneprov, President Boris Yeltsin's education adviser.

For information, call or write Ms. Kendall Dwyer, American University in Moscow, 1800 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009; (202) 986-6010.

For the fourth year in a row, Harvard University was rated the top university in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of higher-education institutions.

Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., was named the number-one liberal-arts college, supplanting Williams College of Williamstown, Mass., which has occupied the spot for the past two years. This year Williams was ranked second among liberal-arts colleges.

Top regional universities were Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass. (North); Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. (South); Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill. (Midwest); and Trinity University in San Antonio (West).

The rankings appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of the news magazine.--M.S.

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