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Quick Takes: Stay Denied in Research Dispute, University Without E-Mail, Anthro Journals Shift, Grad Student Detained in Russia, Complaint on Va. Tech, Texas A

August 21, 2007
  • Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Monday refused to stay an appeals court's ruling that a researcher who left Washington University in St. Louis for Northwestern University could not move thousands of blood and tissue samples with him, the Associated Press reported. Alito's refusal to block the lower court's decision does not preclude all of the justices from taking up the case, as they have been asked to do. Many research universities have backed the lower court's decision, saying its approach was essential for them to manage many long-term studies involving tissues.
  • Eastern Michigan University's e-mail system has been down since Friday and is not expected to be functioning until tomorrow, The Ann Arbor News reported. Officials acknowledged a "huge inconvenience" for students and faculty members.
  • The University of California Press has announced that the American Anthropological Association is not renewing its journal contract (including the popular AnthroSource online service) and is instead moving the journals to Wiley. The move comes at a time that the association is reviewing the economic model for its journals -- with many professors pushing for the association to embrace the open source movement.
  • Roxana Contreras, a Chilean graduate student at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, is facing up to seven years in a Russian prison after authorities detained her when she was trying to leave the country. The Associated Press reported that Contreras, a Ph.D. candidate in physics, bought a few medals and old currency from a street vendor, thinking she was picking up keepsakes, and found herself accused of leaving with contraband. University officials have been among those pushing for her release.
  • Security on Campus has asked the U.S. Education Department to determine whether Virginia Tech took too long (two hours) to notify students of the first shootings in April's tragedy, The Virginian-Pilot reported. A full report by a state panel is expected soon on the university's handling of the shootings, but officials have noted previously that at the time they sent out the warning, they were acting on incomplete information about the dangers students faced.
  • A state appeals court has ruled the Texas A&M University is covered by sovereign immunity, and cannot be sued for its role in the 1999 collapse of the Aggie bonfire, which killed 12 students, The Eagle reported.
  • The founder of Nike and his wife have pledged $100 million to the University of Oregon to help fund a new basketball arena and other athletics priorities, the university announced Monday. The gift from Phil and Penny Knight is the biggest in the university's history, and it follows another recent instance, at Oklahoma State University, in which a benefactor has showered unprecedented funds on a institution's sports program, a trend sure to aggravate faculty members.
  • A combination of reality television and game show that has captivated India with its promise of a full scholarship to a British university has produced its first winner: Avind Aradhya. The Guardian reported that he won after eight weeks of intense exams and on-air questioning (and the article features a few of the "easier" questions at the end). Aradhya will study engineering at the University of Warwick.
  • The No. 1 ranking colleges do not want is Princeton Review's annual designation in its college guide of the top party school. This year's winner is West Virginia University, followed by the University of Mississippi, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia. While Princeton Review's guide is not known for the quality of its social science research (student surveys are the key tool), it does win points for creative categories -- particularly in playing off of student's studious or not-so-studious reputations, and their politics. Clemson University is named the top jock school. Eugene Lang College of New School University is named the place that educates "dodgeball targets." Hampshire College topped Bard College for the coveted "Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, clove-smoking vegetarians" award. Macalester College was deemed most accepting of gay students while Hampden-Sydney won for "alternative lifestyles not an alternative." Another tradition about these rankings is for the top party school's president to question the ranking. Mike Garrison, president elect at West Virginia, issued this statement: "I've talked to thousands of our students over the weekend and during the first day of classes, and their concerns are with their education, with their futures, and with the great year we have ahead at WVU. I'm focused on the way this university changes people's lives, the research that we do, and the service we provide to the state of West Virginia. This is a special place, and the whole state is proud of it."
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