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Quick Takes: House Passes Study Abroad Bill, Martin Meyerson Dies, President Donates Kidney, Va. Tech to Reopen Building, Dispute on Foot Washing, Critics of President Lose Jobs, Ethics Class in Ala., Tuition Fight, Clash on Title IX, Corruption Worldwide

June 6, 2007
  • The House of Representatives has passed a bill to create a national study abroad program, with the goal of significantly increasing the number and percentage of American college students who get some of their higher education in other countries. The Senate has yet to take up the bill, but there is support there to create the program as well -- although financing for the program is less certain.
  • Martin Meyerson, who in the 1960s and 1970s served as interim chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley and as president of the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania, died Saturday. Meyerson was widely regarded as a wise leader of complicated institutions in an era of protests and tight budgets. As a scholar, he was a leader in the field of urban planning. As an administrator, he was seen as a pioneer for Jewish academics, who had advanced as students and professors in American higher education, but who had not -- prior to Meyerson -- run major research universities. Meyerson was also known as a mentor to many who worked for him and who then went on to top positions in higher education, among them D. Bruce Johnstone (who led the SUNY system), Vartan Gregorian (president of Brown University and now of the Carnegie Corporation), the late James O. Freedman (who was president of the University of Iowa and Dartmouth College), Donald Stewart (who was president of Spelman College and the College Board), and Donald Langenberg (who was chancellor of the University System of Maryland).
  • The president of the University of South Dakota, James Abbott, donated his kidney Monday to the university's chief diversity officer, Bruce King, in operations at the Mayo Clinic, The Argus Leader reported. Both men are reported in good condition, but it is too early to tell if King's body will accept the kidney for the long term. After Abbott first learned of King's need, he volunteered to donate, and was rejected because of high blood pressure. The university president then adopted a new exercise program to lower his blood pressure and qualify to make the donation.
  • Virginia Tech announced Tuesday that it would resume use of Norris Hall, site of most of the shootings on April 16. The building has been vacant since then, and there has been some talk of demolishing it. In the end, Virginia Tech officials said that the faculty members and graduate students in the engineering departments that were the primary occupants of the building asked that it be re-opened, saying that labs set up there were vital and that moving them would be costly and delay important work. Citing the trauma associated with April's killings, the university said that Norris would no longer be used for general classroom space, and that access would be limited to students, faculty members and official visitors.
  • The University of Michigan at Dearborn is spending $25,000 to install foot-washing basins so that Muslims can more easily clean themselves to prepare for prayer, The Detroit News reported. While some see the move as appropriate outreach to the area's large Muslim population, others see a violation of the separation of church and state. A similar debate took place when Minneapolis Community and Technical College announced plans to install such basins.
  • Two professors at Mississippi Valley State University, who were named to panel to study governance changes and that ended up calling for the resignation of President Lester Newman, have lost their non-tenured jobs, The Clarion-Ledger reported. University officials said that the lost jobs had nothing to do with their participation on the panel.
  • The new chancellor of Alabama's community college system is ordering all presidents and senior administrators to attend ethics training, and plans to eventually require all of the system's 9,000 employees to participate, The Birmingham News reported. The system is the subject of several corruption investigations, so much so that the Birmingham newspaper noted that the state's ethics commissioner -- who will be leading the initial sessions -- was quoted as saying of the system: "You almost have to turn the culture upside down and start over. It's so ingrained ... it's almost like a Mafia family."
  • Minnesota may pull out of a 40-year tuition pact with Wisconsin, under which students from either state can attend public institutions at their own in-state tuition rates, unless Wisconsin agrees to changes, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. As tuition rates in Minnesota have increased, that state's residents are paying more than Wisconsin residents to attend their own state's universities.
  • The Women's Sports Foundation released an analysis Tuesday of the participation rates of female and male athletes, which it says shows that women continue to be significantly underrepresented among college athletes" and that significant gains they made in the late 1990s "slowed considerably in the early 2000s." The report also contains a college-by-college report card that grades institutions on their gaps in participation between male and female athletes. A spokesman for the College Sports Council, which released a contradictory report last month on participation rates, called the foundation's report "seriously flawed" and criticized the report card as a "road map for litigation against schools."
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is today releasing a report, "Corrupt Schools, Corrupt Universities: What Can Be Done?" The report says that educational institutions worldwide are losing billions of dollars because of various corrupt practices.
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