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Quick Takes: Reactor Security Faulted, Students Prevent a Suicide, Open Access at Harvard?, Questions on Colorado Nominee, Newspapers Stolen, Key Leader for Academic Labor, Rightsizing at Talladega, Sudden Departure at Webster, President Loses Tenure

February 12, 2008
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has underestimated the potential for a terrorist attack on campus-based nuclear research reactors, according to Congressional auditors, The New York Times reported. The newspaper said that the audit by the Government Accountability Office found few meaningful changes in security requirements, post-9/11, despite the potential for the reactors to be targets. The NRC is disputing the audit's findings.
  • Students at Ohio University played a key role Friday in preventing an employee from committing suicide. The Columbus Dispatch reported that about 15 students were gathered for a weekly prayer session when they heard about a threat by a man to jump from a fifth floor ledge in the student union. The students responded with prayer and were eventually joined by other students. One student proposed that they write letters to the man, encouraging him to live, and a crisis specialist read several of the letters to the man, who was persuaded not to kill himself.
  • Harvard University's arts and sciences faculty will vote today on a proposal in which the university would publish all the finished papers of its scholars in a free online repository unless they opted out of the arrangement, The New York Times reported. In an op-ed in today's Harvard Crimson, Robert Darnton, director of the university library, said that the new arrangement would be "collective but not coercive" and that "[i]n place of a closed, privileged, and costly system, it will help open up the world of learning to everyone who wants to learn."
  • Legislative leaders in Colorado have written to the University of Colorado Board of Regents, saying that they are "deeply concerned" abou"t the selection of Bruce Benson as the sole nominee for the presidency of the university system. The letter notes that Benson has never been an educator, does not hold an advanced degree, and that he has been a player in numerous partisan political battles in the state. The letter asks about the impact his selection would have on the university's academic reputation and ability to attract top talent. Supporters of Benson's nomination have noted his pledges to delegate most academic matters and his skills as a fund raiser.
  • Most copies of the student newspaper at Washington College were stolen Friday, presumably because the edition contained an article that identified eight students who had been detained on drug charges, according to the Student Press Law Center. About 1,000 of the 1,300 issues of The Elm, a weekly, were taken from the Maryland college's academic center. The theft may have been in vain, though; the article was published online, too.
  • Phillip H. Smith has been elected to one of the key positions in academic labor: president of United University Professions, the largest academic union in the country. Smith is a professor of cell and developmental biology at Upstate Medical University of the State University of New York. The UUP, which represents SUNY faculty members, is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
  • Talladega College's new president, a month into the job, has announced that it is cutting about 12 percent of its workers because "the numbers just don't work" given the Alabama institution's diminished enrollment, the Daily Home reported. President Billy C. Hawkins said the college's current staff was meant for a student body of 800 students, not the 311 it has now. "The board hired me to do a job," said Hawkins.
  • The president of Webster University resigned abruptly on Monday, leaving surprised campus officials speculating about why Richard S. Meyers had decided it was "time to give others a chance to lead," as he wrote in his resignation letter, which was his only comment Monday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Trustees said Meyers had left of his own accord.
  • Delaware State University's president recently joined the ranks of the untenured as part of a settlement with the faculty union, The Wilmington News Journal reported Monday. The American Association of University Professors had argued that President Allen L. Sessoms and five other administrators should not be guaranteed the ability to shift into a faculty spot without being duly hired.
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