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Quick Takes: Jury Gives $15.8M to Woman Who Fell at Union College, Construction Halted in Michigan, Akron Reviews Judicial Actions, Texas Southern President on Leave, Boehlert Retires, Correction: Suit on Tulane Plans, Staff Unionizes at Vermont College

March 20, 2006
  • A New York jury has awarded $15.8 million to a woman who suffered permanent injuries after falling into a manhole at Union College in 2003, while she was a student there, The Albany Times Union reported. College officials told the paper that they wanted the woman to receive assistance, but objected to the size of the award and planned to appeal it.
  • Michigan legislators have frozen work on $270 million in construction projects at public colleges and universities because of a dispute over who has the authority to authorize such projects, The Detroit News reported. Lawmakers are pushing for strict enforcement of a law requiring legislative approval for any project involving more than $1 million in spending, but critics of the legislators say that they are seeking too much control over projects where the role of state funds is minimal.
  • The University of Akron has started a review of its use of undercover informants following a series of articles in The Akron Beacon Journal detailing a case in which a student was charged with selling drugs, was found not guilty in a court, but was found in violation of university rules and then killed himself.
  • The board of Texas Southern University has placed Priscilla Slade, the president, on paid leave, as investigations grow into her spending Texas Southern funds on her home, The Houston Chronicle reported. Slade has denied wrongdoing.
  • Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican who is chairman of the House Science Committee, announced Friday that he would not seek re-election. Boehlert, a moderate who is considered a strong supporter of science, would have left the chairmanship of the science panel even if he remained in the House because of term limits. It is not clear who will succeed him as committee leader.
  • Contrary to an earlier report on Inside Higher Ed, a federal judge last week turned down a request by students and alumnae of Newcomb College, a women's institution within Tulane University, to ask Tulane not to make any changes to the institution that can't be readily undone. Tulane's president, Scott S. Cowen, proposed eliminating Newcomb as a stand-alone institution as part of the restructuring plan following Hurricane Katrina. At a March 16 meeting, the Tulane Board of Administrators approved the creation of the “Newcomb-Tulane College,” which would allow students to request that their affiliation be documented on their diploma. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that Tulane would violate the contract that established Newcomb College by merging its endowment into another college. But the judge rejected the request for a temporary restraining order. On March 30, the judge will decide whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction barring Tulane from making changes to Newcomb.
  • Academic and administrative staff members at Vermont College of Union Institute voted last week to unionize, The Times Argus reported.
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