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Quick Takes: Funds Restored for Tex. 2-Year Colleges, Tutu's Terms, Teachers College Defends Maligned Prof, Violence, Diversity in Sports Jobs, Tobacco Ties, New Job for President Accused of Plagiarism, Veto-Proof Vote on Spending, Higher Ed Act Extended

October 24, 2007
  • Legislators in Texas have succeeded in getting $154 million in funds restored to community colleges, The Dallas Morning News reported. The funds had been vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and his surprise action stunned community colleges, which were counting on the money and waged an intense lobbying campaign to get the funds restored.
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- who was invited, uninvited and re-invited to speak at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, is willing to consider the latest invitation, but with a condition. The Star Tribune reported that Tutu has informed university leaders who will speak only if St. Thomas ends the demotion of a tenured professor who lost the directorship of the university's Justice and Peace Studies Program. Cris Toffolo, the professor, lost the directorship after she criticized the decision to rescind the Tutu invite.
  • Teachers College Columbia University has been the focus of much speculation since a noose was found on the door of a black professor. While the investigation continues, the college has issued a statement of support for another professor, who police ruled out as a suspect but about whom rumors have circulated of some link to the incident. The statement noted the "terrible" impact of these "false and baseless rumors."
  • A Delaware State University student, shot in an incident last month, has died, the AP reported. A Wellesley College student has been charged with sneaking into her ex-boyfriend's room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and stabbing him repeatedly, The Boston Globe reported. He is in serious condition at a local hospital.
  • An annual review of racial and gender diversity of the people who run college athletics finds relatively little change. "The overwhelming majority of the most powerful people in college sport is still white," said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity of Ethics and Sport at the University of Central Florida. "In Division I-A, this includes 94.2 percent of the presidents, 85.8 percent of the athletics directors, 93.5 percent of the faculty athletics reps and 100 percent of the conference commissioners." The study will be released this morning on the institute's Web site.
  • The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating whether recipients of key grants to study lung cancer have conflicts of interest because these researchers have served as expert witnesses to the tobacco industry.
  • Scott D. Miller, whose presidency of Wesley College, in Delaware, was marred by accusations of plagiarism, has been appointed president of Bethany College, in West Virginia. In 2006, a panel appointed by Wesley's board found three instances in which Miller's name appeared on documents that he did not write and that were plagiarized, but the panel said it couldn't tell if he was responsible or if someone trying to discredit him was. Miller consistently denied wrongdoing, and kept his job. The News Journal reported that Miller said of the past controversy that "there was a review, and that was put to rest. It's a non-issue."
  • The U.S. Senate passed a spending bill for education, labor and health programs by a 75 to 19 margin Tuesday, giving supporters of the legislation a veto-proof margin in the face of a threat by President Bush to oppose the measure. The legislation, which appropriates funds for the Education Department and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies, would leave the maximum Pell Grant at $4,310 and provide $1 billion more to the NIH than the biomedical research agency received in 2007. Lawmakers will now try to craft a compromise with a parallel measure in the House, which would increase the maximum Pell Grant to $4,700, but college leaders anticipate that Congress will end up using the funds set aside for Pell in the House bill for other purposes, since budget reconciliation legislation that President Bush signed this month provides mandatory funds for the Pell program.
  • The House of Representatives approved yet another temporary extension of the Higher Education Act on Tuesday, giving lawmakers until the early part of next year to finish their work on a permanent extension of the law governing student aid and other higher education programs. Some observers saw the action by House leaders as a concession that they are unlikely to pass a full renewal of the Higher Ed Act bill. But college lobbyists noted that staff members of the House Education and Labor Committee had alerted higher education officials that any final legislative language they wanted considered as part of a reauthorization bill needed to be in the committee's hands by early this week -- a possible sign that the panel was actually close to releasing a draft of the legislation. Committee leaders are in a race against the Congressional clock -- Congress will recess in mid-November and return for only a short period in December, and lawmakers have yet to pass any of their 2008 spending bills, the one task they must accomplish before they adjourn for the year.
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