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Quick Takes: Antioch Profs May Sue, Budget Boost in Louisiana, Mugabe Can Keep Degree, NCAA 'Clarifies' Rule on Bloggers, Wharton Dean, No More Latin on Ottawa Diplomas, Probation for Colorado, Copyright Option, Senior Slumps, Japan's Search for Students

June 22, 2007
  • Professors at Antioch College are considering a lawsuit against the board of Antioch University over its decision to shut down the college. A statement issued on behalf of the faculty, by Dimi Reber, an emerita professor who noted that she can speak freely without fear for her job, blasts the university's board. While board leaders have said that they tried to save the college, and couldn't continue it with enrollment of around 300, the faculty statement says that the board forced changes that prompted an enrollment decline. "The board risked the college's well-being with the imposition of an ill-considered plan, failed to provide promised support, and then closed the college," according to the faculty. The statement goes on to note that the university would gain the college's endowment and land if the college is destroyed. "Can the board and university administration which conducted their review of the college's recent situation in secrecy, in violation of our governance policies, without consulting faculty and staff who stand to lose their livelihoods and professions, be trusted with the college's current assets, its legacy and its future?" the statement asks.
  • Louisiana's Legislature approved a 2007-8 state budget late Wednesday that will provide the biggest increase in funds for the state's public colleges and universities in decades. The budget, which Gov. Kathleen Blanco had drafted and plans to sign, will provide $200 million in new funds for higher education, as well as additional money for deferred maintenance on buildings. The higher education budget will ensure that Louisiana's colleges are financed at the level of peer institutions in the South for the first time in more than 25 years.
  • Students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have been pushing the institution to revoke an honorary degree awarded in 1986 to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe whose autocratic rule has been criticized by human rights groups worldwide. But on Thursday, the UMass board decided that Mugabe could keep the degree, although the board did adopt a resolution criticizing him. The resolution said that the board "decries the association with the University of Massachusetts of a person of such early promise and commitment whose descent to the depths of a brutal and bloody regime have brought worldwide scorn and unremitting rebuke.” A spokesman said that the discussion of Mugabe's degree was in private so it was unclear why board members decided to criticize Mugabe, but not take away the honorary degree.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association has issued what it is calling a clarification of its policy on blogging by reporters during championship games. Under the clarified policy, blogging about scores is permitted, and only "live play-by-play information" is banned (except of course by the press entities that have paid for broadcast rights). The NCAA has infuriated many bloggers and several news organizations in recent weeks by revoking press credentials for reporters blogging during games. In doing so, the NCAA said that blogging during games could cover "atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action." The clarification said that "incorrect information" has been issued in response to the bloggers. It is unclear if the clarification will resolve the matter as some blogging organization are asserting First Amendment rights.
  • The University of Pennsylvania announced the selection of Thomas S. Robertson as dean of the Wharton School -- a position that will give him unusual prominence in the world of business education. Robertson, 64, is the former dean of Emory University's Goizueta Business School and director of Emory's Institute for Developing Nations. He was on Wharton's marketing faculty from 1971 to 1994. Penn's president, Amy Gutmann said Robertson "brings great leadership experience and great knowledge to the school," as well as an interest in international outreach, experience building interdisciplinary programs and "a belief in business schools as a force for good in the world. Robertson said that though he has certain ideas he'd like to put in place as dean -- including programs on developing nations and increased collaboration with Penn's 11 other schools, initiatives in which Gutmann also voiced interest, "ultimately, your job as dean is hiring and keeping faculty and attracting the best students possible." Robertson replaces Patrick Harker, who after seven years as Wharton dean is to become president of the University of Delaware on July 1.
  • The University of Ottawa had ended a tradition of allowing students to request that their diplomas be in Latin (over the more popular options of English or French), The Ottawa Citizen reported. Relatively few students would picking Latin and the university was having difficulty coming up with Latin equivalents for some words, such as “software” and “genomics.”
  • The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed the University of Colorado at Boulder on two years probation for failing to monitor a meal program for athletes. More than 130 athletes in six sports received what amounted to $61,700 in benefits by being allowed over the course of six academic years to eat meals set aside for training athletes even though their practice schedules didn’t prohibit them from eating in the residence halls or their meal plans hadn’t been correctly purchased. Both the NCAA and Colorado found that the violations were inadvertent. The university will also pay a $100,000 fine, which will go to a charitable cause involved in efforts to alleviate hunger or homelessness, and lose one football scholarship per year until 2010.
  • The Copyright Clearance Center, which has handled permissions requests for colleges' coursepacks and other educational materials, has introduced a new flat fee option for institutions, as opposed to what has been the norm of paying per item.
  • The University of California's highly competitive campuses are increasingly revoking admissions offers to high school seniors whose academic performance fell dramatically after they submitted their college applications, The Los Angeles Times reported.
  • As Japan's population ages, universities have been forced to start paying more attention to anything that will give them a recruiting edge for students -- either of traditional age or retirees who want to take courses, The New York Times reported.
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