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Quick Takes: Dead Bear With Obama Posters Left on Campus, More Criticism for VCU, Education Doctorates, Tops in Enrollment, Madison's Quest for Military Historian, Interim Leader Quits at Miss. State, Fake Degrees Probed, McGill Chancellor Called Racist

October 21, 2008
  • Authorities are investigating a bizarre incident in which a 75-pound bear cub was shot and left at the campus of Western Carolina University, draped in Obama campaign posters, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported. University officials said that they couldn't determine the motive for the incident, but were troubled by it.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University is facing new pressure to revoke a degree that the university has admitted never should have been awarded. State legislators have reviewed the incident and on Monday they told university leaders that they have the power to rescind the degree and should do just that, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Some legislators hinted that they might seek a way to do so if the university doesn't act, the newspaper said. Virginia Commonwealth officials have acknowledged that numerous rules were violated in awarding a bachelor's degree to Rodney Monroe, former chief of police in Richmond, but have maintained that their rules (which are being changed for the future) barred rescinding a degree unless the student who received it engaged in misconduct, which the university says was not the case.
  • Education doctorates are becoming a popular topic for review. On Monday, the American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education announced a joint review of education research doctoral programs. Although more than 1,800 such doctorates are awarded each year, a joint announcement by the two groups said that there has never been a comprehensive review of these programs. Last year, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced a three-year project to re-invigorate Ed.D. programs.
  • The main campus at Ohio State University is holding on to its status of having more students than any other campus in the United States. Ohio State announced Monday that fall enrollment at the main campus in Columbus is 53,715. That beats out other large universities, such as Arizona State University's main campus (52,734), the University of Florida (51,413), the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (51,140) and the University of Texas at Austin (50,006).
  • When historians debate whether their discipline has lost interest in military history, the prime evidence by those who think liberal academics just don't care about the military is the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The reason is that Stephen Ambrose, the late military historian and Madison alumnus, left a bequest to the university for just such a purpose in 2002, and the position hasn't been filled. The university has noted that the bequest didn't cover the full costs of a position. Now the university has added to the bequest, a search is ongoing, and the quality of candidates has university officials encouraged that a hire will be made, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
  • Vance Watson quit Monday as interim president of Mississippi State University following a scandal in which a state audit found that he authorized landscaping work by the university at the home of the state's commissioner of higher education. In a statement, Watson noted that he personally repaid the university for the costs involved, and that the matter was considered a civil claim and not a criminal one.
  • Nine state troopers in Washington State have been placed on leave while authorities investigate whether they obtained fraudulent college degrees to earn pay raises, The Seattle Times reported. A police official told the Times: "It appears these may be fraudulent institutions.... These nine [schools] were not readily apparent institutions of higher education and they weren't easily determined institutions of education by looking at a Web site or [making] a phone call."
  • McGill University's chancellor, Richard W. Pound, is facing widespread criticism and calls for his resignation after he was quoted as saying that Canada was a nation of "savages" 400 years ago, before European settlement. The comments came in an interview in which Pound, a longtime official in the international Olympic movement, was offering praise for Chinese civilization -- in contrast with Canada's history prior to the arrival of Europeans -- in the context of discussing this year's Olympic games. Numerous McGill figures as well as leaders of Indian groups in Canada have condemned the comment. At McGill as at other Canadian universities, the role of chancellor is not like that of an American president or chancellor, but more like that of an influential board member, with additional ceremonial duties. Still, the position is closely associated with the university. McGill issued a statement over the weekend stating that Pound's comments "are his own and are not made on behalf of McGill," The Montreal Gazette reported.
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