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Quick Takes: Court Says Emeritus Status Has Little Value, Utes Waiting on Funds, Desire2Learn Fires Back, Manifesto Against Radical Islam, TOEFL Frustrations, 2 Student Papers Criticized for Jesus Images, Senator's Fake Job, Lasker Awards, Katrina Grants

September 18, 2006
  • A federal appeals court has ruled that emeritus status (as defined at the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York) has so little value that a retired professor can't sue over being denied the right to the title. In the case, a retired professor who owns property near the FIT campus, says that he was denied emeritus status because he criticized the institute's building plans. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that there was evidence that the denial of emeritus status was linked to the professor's statements. But to have a First Amendment suit, the court ruled, the retired professor needed evidence of an "adverse employment action," such as loss of pay or change in duties. Because the greatest value of emeritus status is the right to use the title, the court found, it has "little or no value" and denying it is not a First Amendment issue.
  • Leaders of the Ute Indian tribe backed the University of Utah when it relied on their help to keep the "Utes" team name when the National Collegiate Athletic Association was rejecting many names with Native American roots. But The Deseret News reported that some Indian leaders thought new scholarships were about to be created for their students -- and that hasn't happened. University officials deny that there was any quid pro quo.
  • Desire2Learn, which produces course-management systems, has fired back against Blackboard, which sued it for patent infringement last month. Desire2Learn last week filed papers charging that the patent isn't valid and that Blackboard has no right to bring the suit. The case is being closely watched by many -- especially open source advocates who fear that Blackboard's patent is too broad and that the company could use it to squash their efforts. Blackboard has said that it has no plans to go after open source services.
  • A group of American intellectuals -- including several prominent neoconservative thinkers and some liberal academics and writers -- has issued a statement called "American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto." The signatories align themselves with a document released earlier this year by a group of British thinkers (most of them with backgrounds on the left) expressing concern about the rise of radical Islam. Both documents have drawn support from academics with a range of views on wisdom of starting the war in Iraq and how it has been conducted. But those differences aside, they share the mission of endorsing the values of liberal democracy against Islamic fundamentalism.
  • Many students are reporting difficulties finding an open space to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language this year, following a move by the Educational Testing Service to take the test online, The Washington Post reported. Students are also reporting glitches at testing centers leading some tests to be called off. An ETS spokesman told The Post that glitches have been rare and that TOEFL officials are working to expand testing centers.
  • The Cavalier Daily, the student paper at the University of Virginia, has removed from its Web site two cartoons about Jesus that have prompted thousands of complaints. One cartoon showed Jesus nailed to a Cartesian coordinate plane and the other featured an exchange between Mary and Joseph in which he asked her how she got a bumpy rash and she replies "I swear, it was immaculately transmitted." The newspaper has defended its decision to publish the cartoons, but on Friday posted an announcement from their creator in which he said that he failed in his goal to "provoke thought and amusement" with the cartoons and so had requested their removal. He also apologized.
  • The Daily Beacon, the student newspaper at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, is under fire for an image of Philip Fulmer, the head football coach, carrying a giant T that looks like a cross and wearing a crown of thorns, WBIR reported. The image ran on the cover of the newspaper's football preview, and offended many people. Student editors said that they were trying to show how seriously football is taken in Tennessee.
  • Wayne Bryant, chairman of the New Jersey Senate's Budget and Appropriations Committee, was given a fake job as an administrator at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2003 and state appropriations for the institutions increased after he was put on payroll, The Star-Ledger reported. The newspaper quoted findings from a federal investigation that will be released today, finding no evidence of any work Bryant ever did in the $38,220-a-year job, which he left after the investigation started in February. Other university employees reported that Bryant generally turned up at the university for three hours on Tuesdays, and the only activity anyone observed him doing was reading newspapers. He declined to comment.
  • The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation on Sunday announced that five scientists would be honored with Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards this year. The awards are considered one of the top prizes in science -- in the last 16 years, 20 recipients have been awarded a Nobel Prize. This year's Lasker winners for basic medical research are Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California at San Francisco, Carol W. Greider of Johns Hopkins University, and Jack W. Szostak of Harvard University. The winner for clinical medical research is Aaron T. Beck of the University of Pennsylvania. The winner of a prize for special achievement in medical science is Joseph G. Gall of the Carnegie Institution.
  • The Education Department has announced a new round of grants to colleges that were affected by Hurricane Katrina, totaling $50 million.
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