Trudie Kibbe Reed is stepping down as president of Bethune-Cookman University, amid apparent board disagreements over whether her resignation should be accepted. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported her departure, confirmed by the board chair. The Orlando Sentinel, while also confirming her resignation, quoted a trustee as saying Reed had not resigned, and that the board had taken no action on her departure. (Reed did not respond to an e-mail message from Inside Higher Ed seeking clarification.) Reed has been praised for promoting growth at the historically black college. But the institution has seen controversies as well. An investigation by the American Association of University Professors found that the university violated the due process of faculty members who were fired after they were accused of sexual harassment. University officials disputed the AAUP's findings. Last year, the News-Journal reported that Bethune-Cookman was facing 12 lawsuits from ex-employees who say that they were fired inappropriately.
Two female Marist College students and a friend were killed in a fire early Saturday morning, when a fire spread through their house, The Journal News reported. Four other Marist students escaped the fire by jumping through windows.
On Sunday morning, seven Boston University students were hospitalized after a fire in their off-campus house, The Boston Globe reported.
The Los Angeles Times continues to uncover problems in the management of building projects by the Los Angeles Community College District. The latest discovery: The company hired by the district to oversee $450 million in spending on the campus of Mission College took consulting fees from one of the contractors whose work it was supposed to be monitoring. While it was taking the consulting fees, the company signed off on payments to the contractor -- over the objections of architects and engineers who believed the billing was excessive.
The University of California at Los Angeles "wholly neglected its legal obligations" to provide safety in a laboratory where a fire resulted in the death of a lab assistant three years ago, according to a report from Cal/OSHA -- a state work safety agency -- that was obtained by The Los Angeles Times. The report said that the professor supervising the lab "simply disregarded the open and obvious dangers presented in this case and permitted Victim Sangji to work in a manner that knowingly caused her to be exposed to a serious and foreseeable risk of serious injury or death." UCLA has denied negligence in what it has portrayed as an accident. The professor who ran the lab and the University of California Board of Regents have been indicted on charges that they failed to adhere to appropriate safety standards.
Mountain State University's board on Thursday announced that it had fired Charles H. Polk as president. The Charleston Gazette noted that the West Virginia university had been facing accreditation problems both as an institution and for its nursing program, as well as criticism of Polks 7-figure compensation package.
The University of California at San Francisco, a powerhouse in medical education and research, is pushing for much more autonomy from the University of California, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The university says it doesn't want to secede, but does want its own board and to be free of fees it pays the central university. Further, officials question the need to participate in numerous discussions within the university about issues such as undergraduate education, which doesn't exist at UCSF. Officials of the medical campus say that they need the greater independence to focus resources on their programs.
The American Council on Education and other higher education groups have filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court backing the right of the University of Colorado Board of Regents to dismiss Ward Churchill as a tenured professor of ethnic studies on the Boulder campus. Churchill has challenged the firing (unsuccessfully until now), arguing that he was dismissed, in violation of his First Amendment and academic freedom rights, because of his controversial writings. The university system says that the reason he was fired was for repeated instances of faculty misconduct, and that panels of professors played key roles in identifying these instances and concluding that they represented unprofessional conduct.
The brief filed by the college groups states that the principles of academic freedom should result in support for the university's position. "Because universities are the entities best suited to make decisions about their faculties, they are entitled to autonomy in adjudicating claims regarding academic integrity," the brief says.