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Quick Takes: Columbia's $400M Gift, Widener and Capella Place Officials on Leave, Students Detained in Venezuela, Indian Court Backs Scholar, Title IX Settlement, Prof's Parody Fails in Iceland, Jesuits Tap Le Moyne President to Start African University

April 11, 2007
  • Columbia University plans to announce a $400 million gift today for student aid, The New York Times reported. The gift -- a bequest to come from the billionaire John Kluge when he dies -- would be Columbia's largest ever and one of the largest in American higher education. Columbia officials told the Times that half of the gift would go to undergraduates at Columbia College and half for students in other parts of the university.
  • Widener University, in Pennsylvania, on Tuesday placed its financial aid chief, Walter Cathie, on administrative leave, pending results into an investigation of links between his consulting business and a controversial lender. And Capella University, an online institution, announced a similar move with regard to Tim Lehmann, its financial aid director, over his consulting relationship with the lender, Student Loan Xpress. An investigation by the New York attorney general's office has led to similar leaves for a number of prominent aid officials elsewhere.
  • Union College in Nebraska on Tuesday announced the safe return of 32 students being trained in international rescue and relief issues -- after they had been placed in "protective custody" in Venezuela for a week. Officials in Venezuela had questioned the student group's documentation to be in the country. The students were helping physicians with humanitarian projects and Union officials said that they did not know what set off the government's concern.
  • The Supreme Court of India has ordered a state government to stop prosecuting an American scholar on racial hatred charges, Reuters reported. James W. Laine's book Shivaji: Hindu King of Islamic India, was viewed by some Hindu groups as an insult to the 17th century king -- and some members of those groups attacked a research institute, leading to charges against Laine, who teaches at Macalester College.
  • Following on a federal judge's order last year, female athletes have reached a settlement of their gender equity suit against Slippery Rock University, in Pennsylvania. Under the settlement, a $300,000 fund will be created to bolster women's athletics.
  • Be careful before you joke about potential targets for the United States to bomb. On  Monday, The  Daily Princetonian printed a column by Uwe E. Reinhardt, a professor of political economy, in which he made a modest proposal that the United States "bomb Iceland instead of Iran." The column offers justifications for such an attack: "The CIA recently reported having seen 'a swarthy man order yellow cake from an equally swarthy waitress' in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. Though the waitress brought the man vanilla cake, the transaction could easily be construed by the United Nations as something far more sinister and in need of bombing." The column has drawn significant attention in Iceland, although we'll confess to being unable to read newspaper articles like this one. But the student paper at Princeton reported on e-mail messages coming in in English. While some readers in Iceland were amused, others were reportedly fearful than some in the United States would take the column literally.
  • The Rev. Charles J. Beirne, president of Le Moyne College, announced Tuesday that he will be leaving that position after commencement next month because Jesuit leaders have asked him to help establish their first university in Africa. A Le Moyne spokesman said that the timing and location of the African project have not been set.
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