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Quick Takes: Anger Over Ouster of a Law Dean, New Campus in San Francisco, Michigan State Wins $550M Physics Facility, New Iowa Policies on Sexual Assault, Minimal Impact From Frozen Fund, Higher Ed Wants Its Stimulus, British Boycott of Israel Dies

December 12, 2008
  • Professors, students and some donors are furious over the ouster of Don Guter as dean of Duquesne University's law school, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Since Guter became dean, in 2005, the bar passage rate has jumped to 97 percent from 68 percent. But tensions have been reported between Guter and Charles Dougherty, the university's president. Guter backed his faculty in pushing for tenure for a professor initially rejected by the president.
  • City College of San Francisco has been cleared to build its new campus. Some Chinatown businesses and residents sued to block the facility, but the college this week reached deals with the plaintiffs, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The new facility -- which is seen as crucial to the college's plans to reach the area's residents -- is expected to serve 6,500 students.
  • The U.S. Energy Department has selected Michigan State University as the site of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a $550 million physics research facility, the Associated Press reported. Michigan State beat out the Argonne National Laboratory in a competition for the center.
  • The Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday approved new sexual assault policies for the state's public universities. The Des Moines Register reported that the policies all encourage reporting incidents to the police and also outline student assault victims' rights to confidentiality and access to support. The new policies involve allegations over the last year at the University of Iowa by a student and her family that she was discouraged and not protected when she brought assault allegations involving athletes.
  • The freezing of about 900 colleges' financial assets in October caused concern across higher education, but few of the institutions rated by Moody's Investors Service have seen credit ratings affected as a result, Moody's reported Thursday. About 200 of the 500 colleges rated by Moody's had money in the Common Fund for Short Term Investments, a pooled investment fund for colleges that was partially frozen by Wachovia when the bank suffered billions of dollars in losses. Of the 200 Moody's-rated colleges with money in the fund, only seven saw credit ratings suffer. "We believe nearly all rated institutions have now successfully secured alternate sources of liquidity and will not experience operating disruptions," Moody's reported. The institutions that saw credit ratings affected had significant portions of operational funds stored in the Common Fund, and "thin levels" of other cash on hand to compensate for the frozen assets, according to Moody's. The affected institutions included Central College, Gonzaga University, Suffolk University, and the University of Vermont, all of which had ratings outlooks changed from "stable" to "negative." Franklin Pierce University and the University of Central Arkansas were both placed on watch lists for ratings downgrades. Only one institution, Simmons College, actually saw its credit rating downgraded by Moody's.
  • A coalition of student and college groups is calling for Congress to include key higher education programs in any stimulus package that is adopted to improve the economy. Among the ideas put forth: larger Pell Grants, more money for work-study, and special student loan funds for colleges that pledge to provide need-based aid to students.
  • Britain's primary faculty union -- facing legal threats and political criticism -- has quietly backed away from plans to encourage campus discussions by academics on the morality of ties to Israeli academics, The Guardian reported. These talks were the latest version of plans to boycott Israeli universities -- a move decried by many academic groups as both inconsistent with academic freedom and foolish, given that Israeli universities have been a center of thought arguing for better treatment of Palestinians. According to the Guardian, the union has shifted from talking about the boycott to promoting ties between British universities and those in Burma, Zimbabwe, Gaza and the West Bank. In addition, the union is preparing a report on academic freedom.
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