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Quick Takes: Suit Revived Over Alleged Rape by Athlete, Accreditor Criticizes U. of California Governance, Unauthorized Student Aid, Presidents Seek Stopgap Research Funds, New Explanation for Rankings

February 13, 2008
  • A state appeals court has found "ample evidence" for a trial in a lawsuit by a woman who charges that the University of Washington tried to keep quiet her allegations that a football player raped her, The Seattle Times reported. The alleged rape took place in 2001. The woman also sued the football player (who settled with her and another woman who sued him over similar allegations). A district court dismissed her suit, but the appeals court ruling restores the case -- while not ruling on its merits. The woman was a student employee of the athletic department at the time of the alleged rape. The university has denied wrongdoing.
  • The University of California is facing new criticism over governance -- this time from its accreditor. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that while the Western Association of Schools and Colleges normally accredits individual UC campuses, it prepared a special report on system governance in the wake of several controversies over compensation for executives in the system. The report found confusion over the roles and responsibilities of regents, the system president and the chancellor, as well as a lack of a consistent system for evaluating top officials. University officials said that they are moving to address the issues.
  • A state audit has found that a high ranking official at North Carolina Central University stole thousands of dollars in grant money, and that he arranged for a research grant to a student with whom he was having a romantic relationship -- even though she never did any work, the Associated Press reported. University officials said that the official has been removed from his post.
  • Still reeling from last-minute cuts to December’s omnibus appropriations legislation that shortchanged funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences, at least seven university presidents prowled the halls of Congress on Tuesday to push for a $500 million stopgap supplemental spending bill that would stave off further layoffs at national laboratories and temporarily boost support for the National Science Foundation until the budget is settled for fiscal year 2009. While they may have some persuading to do before a skeptical House of Representatives, some members of the Senate have reportedly showed interest in the admittedly long-shot request. The high-profile presidents lobbying their representatives included Richard Brodhead of Duke University, Graham Spanier of Pennsylvania State University, Robert J. Zimmer of the University of Chicago and Robert H. Bruininks of the University of Minnesota.
  • We won't pretend to understand the physics involved, but a Duke University professor has published a paper arguing that his physics theory explains the popularity of rankings of colleges and why they persist. Adrian Bejan, who is known for his work in constructal theory, which governs the flow of social phenomena, writes that a similar flow in which top-ranked universities distribute ideas to others, works for their benefit and is unlikely to change without radical shifts in higher education. He recently published his ideas on rankings in the International Journal of Design & Nature.
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