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Quick Takes: Career Training Urged for Social Science Ph.D.'s, Ala. Jury Orders NCAA to Pay Booster $5M, Worldwide Hacking Incident, Report on BU Facility Questioned, Christmas Tree Returns, Delay of Doctoral Report, Advice From Above

November 30, 2007
  • Ph.D. training in the social sciences needs to be reformed to place more of an emphasis on career training, and the changes needed are substantial enough that they would constitute a "paradigm shift," according to a new report from the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education, at the University of Washington.
  • A state jury in Alabama on Thursday ordered the National Collegiate Athletic Association to pay $5 million to a University of Alabama football booster who had accused the sports group of defaming him when it penalized the university in 2002 for violations in which the booster was reportedly involved, the Associated Press reported. The jury awarded Ray Keller $3 million for punitive damages, $1 million for mental anguish, and $500,000 each for economic loss and damage to reputation, for comments made by NCAA officials when they announced the penalties against Alabama. Although the association did not mention Keller by name at the time, as is its custom, news reports did identify him, and Keller balked at language -- discussed in calls with reporters and contained in the public report prepared by the Division I Committee on Infractions -- that described boosters in derogatory terms. One excerpt: "As aptly stated at the hearing by the Southeastern Conference Commissioner, these rogue representatives are the 'parasites' of intercollegiate athletics. What is required is a full frontal attack to turn these parasites into pariahs and to visibly, forcefully and emphatically exclude them from any participation or entrée into athletics programs." An NCAA spokesman told the NCAA that the association would ask the judge to set aside the jury's verdict and, if that is not successful, appeal the case to the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • Federal authorities say that a University of Pennsylvania junior has been arrested for his key role in a worldwide hacking scheme in which the student and an accomplice in New Zealand allegedly used Penn's server to carry out thousands of attacks on computer systems all over the world, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
  • A National Institutes of Health report on the risks associated with a planned biocontainment laboratory at Boston University has so many "serious weaknesses," such as the way it selected pathogens to evaluate, that it is "not sound and credible," a report from the National Research Council concluded. The Boston facility -- defended as safe by university officials -- has been opposed by some local groups.
  • Missouri State University, which took down a Christmas tree in a campus building following a reported complaint from a Jewish faculty member, has now announced that it will put the tree back up. The faculty member named in some local press accounts denies saying anything about the Christmas tree, but said that he previously had complained about major campus events being scheduled on Jewish holidays. Local residents had criticized the removal of the tree, with some going so far as to demand to know the identity of the faculty member who complained, based on the reported complainant denying having said anything.
  • The National Research Council has announced a postponement -- from February to late spring of 2008 -- for the release of its next review of doctoral programs. The study -- conducted periodically by the council and this time using shifts in methodology -- has been eagerly awaited at many universities.
  • Richard Roberts, who resigned last week as president of Oral Roberts University, amid a series of allegations against him and his wife, told students in a brief talk Wednesday that he didn't want to quit, but God told him to, the Associated Press reported. Roberts -- who denies wrongdoing -- said that he wanted to "strike out" against those who were opposing him, but "the Lord said, 'don't do that,' " and the next day, Roberts quit.
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