Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Subject Administration
select lower(department_name) as foo ...
order by foo;
Then submit a bug report to the SDM. You're probably the first serious user of the education module and are wandering into untested code. We've made an effort to test ported modules (obviously), but we're just a bunch of unpaid volunteers and can't claim to have done an overly thorough job except on the most commonly used modules.