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Quick Takes: Firebombs at 2 Santa Cruz Homes, Trustee Dates Administrator, Researcher Faces Deportation, Scrutiny of Stanford, Education Dept. Faulted, Texas Southern Loses Suit, Faculty Union Sues Over Raises, Bible College Feud, Turmoil in Newfoundland

August 4, 2008
  • The residences of two scientists at the University of California at Santa Cruz were hit with firebombs early Saturday in an apparent continuation of a campaign by animal rights groups to intimidate researchers into stopping the use of animals in research. In one case, a car in a faculty member's driveway was bombed. In the other, the porch of a home was firebombed. The incidents are being investigated by federal, local and university authorities. Several days before the attack, leaflets were found in a Santa Cruz coffee shop threatening violence against university researchers for their work with animals. George Blumenthal, chancellor of the university, issued a statement condemning the attacks. "These unconscionable acts put the researchers, their families -- including their children -- and their neighbors in grave danger. They follow earlier aggressive acts of intimidation, trespassing, vandalism, and a physical attack last spring and the discovery of leaflets this past week threatening UCSC research scientists," Blumenthal said. "These are odious assaults on individuals and on the principles of free inquiry by which we live."
  • Yolanda Salcido, a trustee of Southwestern College, a community college near San Diego, has been dating John Wilson, the director of business services for the college. While the relationship has raised eyebrows, and has led to a legal claim by a former vice president, the board has not moved to stop it or even to ask Salcido to recuse herself on certain matters, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The college did release a legal opinion stating that the relationship could cause image problems and suggesting that recusals could minimize those problems.
  • A former researcher at the University of Idaho is facing deportation following a lengthy conflict with federal immigration authorities, The Spokane Spokesman Review reported. Despite 14 years of work at the university, Katarzyna Dziewanowska was found to have worked without authorization for eight months and even though she did so at the recommendation of the university, she may lose her right to stay in the United States as a result.
  • Stanford University has removed Alan Schatzberg, its psychiatry chair, from his position as principal investigator for a federal research grant, following complaints from Sen. Charles Grassley that the professor has not been properly reporting all payments he has received from pharmaceutical companies. Grassley has been charging that top universities are not adequately enforcing their own rules or federal rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest by researchers receiving federal grants. Stanford said that Schatzberg agreed that it was best to change his role on the grant, but that the university and Schatzberg believed he had acted in accordance with relevant federal rules and ethics guidelines.
  • An audit by the U.S. Education Department's Office of Inspector General has faulted the agency for not doing enough to reach out to recruit students from all schools for the new Academic Competitiveness Grant and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant Programs. While Education Department officials have previously defended their progress in promoting these programs, the audit found that the department has not done enough to reach high schools that do not participate. As a result, the audit said, some funds may not be reaching eligible students. The department agreed to carry out recommendations to deal with the problems.
  • A federal jury on Friday found that Texas Southern University illegally expelled three students and had them arrested in retaliation for their work exposing financial wrongdoing that subsequently brought down Priscilla Slade, then president of the university, The Houston Chronicle reported. The three students were awarded $200,000 in total actual damages, but the jury returns next week to decide on punitive damages. In a settlement of charges against her -- charges she denied when the students were being expelled -- Slade agreed to repay $130,000 for personal spending billed to the university.
  • The faculty union at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville is suing the institution to block distribution of merit raises that the union says should have been based on a faculty-approved formula, the Associated Press reported. Wisconsin lawmakers created a special fund to help keep the most talented professors in the state, and the dispute concerns Platteville's share of the funds.
  • The president of Criswell College has accused the church that founded the Bible college of trying to use its assets to finance a major church expansion, The Dallas Morning News reported. The First Baptist Church of Dallas, which controls board appointments, denies the charges. The college president says that the church's pastor has vowed to stack the college's trustees until they approve asset transfers that he seeks.
  • Faculty leaders in Canada are denouncing Newfoundland's education minister, Joan Burke, for interviewing the two finalists for Memorial University's presidency and rejecting both, the Canadian Press reported. Burke said that she was simply urging that the search committee consider others, but members of the search committee and professors at the university say that Burke has essentially destroyed the independence of the search process. One of the finalists Burke rejected, Eddy Campbell, is the interim president and he announced that he has withdrawn as a candidate so he can focus on defending the university's autonomy from political leaders. Memorial is the largest university in Canada's Atlantic region.
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