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Quick Takes: Emory Removes Psychiatry Chair, Green Education Goals, Warning on Variable Debt, SUNY Canton Goes 4 Days, Help for Students From South Carolina Sports

December 23, 2008
  • Emory University announced late Monday that Charles Nemeroff -- the subject of a U.S. Senate probe on conflict of interest by federally supported researchers -- had agreed to step down as chair of psychiatry. Nemeroff will remain as a professor, but the university said it would not submit grant applications in which he would play a role for at least two years. Emory's statement said that its investigation found that Nemeroff, in violation of university rules, received more than $800,000 that he did not report to the university from GlaxoSmithKline for 250 speaking engagements from 2000 to 2006. "Though Dr. Nemeroff viewed these talks as educational lectures not subject to disclosure, Emory policies required otherwise. The investigation determined that Dr. Nemeroff should have abided by the policies and/or sought clarification if, as he later stated, he believed the policies and regulations were ambiguous," the statement said. At the same time, Emory said that its probe found no evidence that Nemeroff's speaking engagements affected care for patients. A statement from Nemeroff, also issued by Emory, said: "I regret the failure of full disclosure on my part that has led to the current situation. I believe that I was acting in good faith to comply with the rules as I understood them to be in effect at the time."
  • Environmental and education groups are urging the incoming Obama administration to include education in its plans to promote a greener society. A letter outlining goals suggests, for example, that the new administration support standards that would have all educational construction meet environmental standards, and that some stimulus funds support efforts to train students for jobs in an economy with an emphasis on sustainability.
  • Moody's Investors Service warned Monday that colleges with variable interest rates on their debt may face additional risks in light of problems with credit markets and the economy. The report, "Risks of Variable Rate Debt No Longer Hidden," notes that 73 percent of private colleges and universities rated by Moody's issued at least some variable rate debt, and 29 percent of those institutions issued at least 50 percent of their bonds with variable debts.
  • The State University of New York at Canton, which awards both associate and bachelor's degrees, has announced plans to adopt a four-day academic schedule for the spring semester, aiming to save operating costs at the college and commuting costs for students. Many colleges experimented with four-day schedules last summer, but Canton is one of a few that are now moving to keep the idea for the fall or spring as well.
  • The University of South Carolina's athletics department has committed to shifting $15 million over 15 years from a new television contract to the central university administration for student and academic purposes, in light of the economic downturn, campus officials said Monday. Under the agreement, the athletics department will transfer $1 million a year to support the Gamecock Guarantee, a need-based scholarship program for undergraduates; a fund for students whose families have lost jobs or faced other economic distress; and to help pay for health insurance for graduate students. Sports officials said South Carolina's annual take from the Southeastern Conference's television deals would grow to $16 million a year from about $10 million beginning next year.
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