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Quick Takes: Wish Lists for Obama, Maryland Furloughs, Arrest Shakes Boards, Suit on Social Work, Loma Linda and Atlantic Union May Merge, Fingerprint Fracas, Beacon Becomes Seminary, Tree-Sit Ends, Legal Dispute in Israel, 'Leveraging Excellence' Award

Quick Takes: Wish Lists for Obama, Maryland Furloughs, Arrest Shakes Boards, Suit on Social Work, Loma Linda and Atlantic Union May Merge, Fingerprint Fracas, Beacon Becomes Seminary, Tree-Sit Ends, Legal Dispute in Israel, 'Leveraging Excellence' Award
December 15, 2008
  • The requests to President-elect Obama continue to arrive from academic groups (and most other kinds of groups, too). The Association of American Universities on Friday released a letter urging the incoming administration to consider such measures as creating a program to help colleges forced to delay building projects because of the changes in the credit markets, providing $750 million for academic research facilities modernization, and providing up to $1.8 billion to allow research universities to hire young scientists and engineers for tenure-track positions. The AAU letter also stressed the importance of student aid and loans, but noted that those programs would soon be covered in another letter from higher education groups. The University of Missouri System, meanwhile, released a letter to its state's Congressional delegation calling for public university facilities to be a major part of any public works campaign established in the expected stimulus package. And today the Asia Society, the Council of Chief State School Officers and five other education groups will issue a call for the new administration to stress international education and foreign languages as part of any effort to make American students more competitive globally. In addition, a group of women's historians is circulating a letter to President-elect Obama that calls for the stimulus package being developed to focus not just on jobs in male-dominated fields such as construction, but to consider fields that employ greater proportions of women.
  • The Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved a plan for furloughs of up to five days for employees of the state's university system, The Baltimore Sun reported. Some employees with low salaries are expected to be exempt and some with high salaries (such as the campus presidents) are likely to just work without pay on their furlough days. University officials said that they believed faculty members would be able to schedule their furloughs in ways that did not interfere with class schedules.
  • The arrest Thursday of Bernard L. Madoff, a financier and philanthropist, on charges of cheating investors out of up to $50 billion is having fallout in the nonprofit world, where he was an active donor and board member. Madoff was until this week treasurer of the board at Yeshiva University, The Herald Tribune reported, quoting a university spokeswoman as saying he had resigned that position and leadership posts with the university's business school. Madoff also serves on the board of Hofstra University, but was placed on leave from that board on Friday.
  • A former student has sued Rhode Island College, charging that its social work program discriminated against him because of his libertarian views, and the college's support for the "progressive" standards of the National Association of Social Workers, The Providence Journal reported. The student says that these standards endorse left-leaning political ideologies, while college officials say that they set ethical guidelines for social workers to help the disadvantaged.
  • Loma Linda University, in California, is exploring a possible merger with Atlantic Union College, in Massachusetts, The Press-Enterprise reported. Loma Linda is focused on medical education and the health sciences, and has been growing, while Atlantic Union has been struggling with enrollment. Both institutions are affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventists. The idea is that students might be attracted to Atlantic Union in part by the possibility of smooth transfer to Loma Linda's programs.
  • A deal in which some Lansing Community College courses were to be offered at a local high school may be falling apart over fingerprinting. The Detroit Free Press reported that state law requires those who may come into contact with secondary school students to be subject to being digitally fingerprinted, but the contract between the college and its instructors doesn't have provisions for such fingerprinting.
  • Beacon University, a Christian institution in Columbus, Ga., announced in July that financial difficulties would force it to shut down. But on Friday the university announced that it would stay alive in a new form. Beacon will close all of its undergraduate programs, but will continue its graduate programs in divinity, Bible studies, and military chaplaincy. Given the more focused mission, the institution is changing its name to Beacon Seminary.
  • Protesters who have occupied trees for 13 months at the University of California at Santa Cruz have left, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. The tree-sitters had vowed to prevent the removal of some trees as part of the preparations to construct a biomedical research facility.
  • Israeli academics are protesting a ban by the rector of Tel Aviv University on his institution's law clinic helping workers at the Weizmann Institute to unionize, Haaretz reported. University officials say it is inappropriate for a law clinic to help any group fighting with another Israeli university, but faculty leaders say the ban is an infringement on academic freedom.
  • The National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education has named the Retail Alliance, a business confederation of universities, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning as the winners of its second Leveraging Excellence Award. The awards, which are designed to recognize efforts to take effective business or management practices in higher education and bring them to a larger scale, were given to the Retail Alliance for development of a software system used by dozens of college stores, and to the Wisconsin center for its Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning, which has developed a curriculum of graduate courses, intergenerational small-group programs, and internships embedded within an interdisciplinary learning community that is being used by a diverse array of institutions.
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