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Quick Takes: Tennessee President Quits, Harvard Slows Work on New Campus, Protests at NYU, More Cuts at Santa Fe, Morrill to Succeed Connor at Teagle, U. of Ga. Apologizes for Condom Poster

February 19, 2009
  • John Petersen announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as president of the University of Tennessee System. Petersen had been in the midst of a review by the Board of Trustees of his five years in office -- years in which he achieved notable success in fund raising, but was also involved in some intense political squabbles. While Petersen’s contract runs through the end of June, he will leave office March 1 and be on administrative leave for four months.
  • Harvard University is slowing down construction of its new science campus in Allston. The new campus is part of a huge effort by the university to upgrade science facilities, some of which lack space to modernize as they wish at the Cambridge campus. In a letter released Wednesday, President Drew Faust wrote that the university's "50-year vision for Allston is undiminished, regardless of these short-term challenges." However, she said that after the foundation of the new science center is finished, the university will evaluate whether to alter building plans or suspend construction for some period of time. "We now find ourselves, like the rest of the country, facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and dramatically altered financial circumstances," Faust wrote.
  • Students protesters at New York University took over a cafeteria Wednesday night, vowing not to leave until certain conditions are met. The group, Take Back NYU, issued a list of demands, including allowing teaching assistants to engage in collective bargaining, releasing more detailed information about the university's endowment and spending, tuition rates that do not exceed the rate of inflation, a pledge to meet the full financial need of all students, the creation of 13 scholarships for Palestinian students, and amnesty for all involved in the protest. Lynne Brown, senior vice president for university relations, told The New York Times that she believed some of those in the protest were from the New School. She said that the university would try to engage the students in discussion.
  • The College of Santa Fe, which has been struggling to stay alive while seeking a bailout and absorption into New Mexico Highlands University, has declared a financial emergency. A statement from the college said that the action was needed because of a delay in a plan for the university to purchase some of the college's land immediately. Under the emergency that has been declared, the college plans to cut the work hours and salaries of non-faculty employees by 25 percent. In addition, college officials will meet faculty leaders to discuss possible changes in faculty salaries.
  • The Teagle Foundation announced Wednesday that Richard Morrill, chancellor of the University of Richmond, will replace W. Robert Connor when he retires as its president next January. Under Connor, the foundation has recently become much more active in the discussion and debate about student learning outcomes and accountability in higher education; Morrill said in a news release that he would try to "bring this work to fruition" when he is president.
  • The University of Georgia has apologized to a Roman Catholic group that was offended by a poster that used Michelangelo's image of God giving life to Adam to promote the careful use of condoms, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. University officials noted, however, that the poster had already disappeared from use before anyone complained about it.
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