Quick Takes: $175,000 Awarded for Lost Notes, Police Kill Seton Hill Student, Administrator on Leave for Apparent Bike Theft, Suit Charges Harassment by a VP, Remembering Tragedies at NIU and Va. Tech, Obama Effect on Canada, Historians Rank Presidents
Submitted by Scott Jaschik on February 16, 2009 - 4:00am
A federal jury last week awarded $175,000 in damages to Philip Stotter, a former chemistry professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, to compensate him for research materials trashed by the university during a laboratory cleaning that the institution ordered and carried out, The San Antonio Express-News reported. While Stotter's lawyers did not deny that his laboratory was a mess, they said that the university did not give him due process after determining that a forced cleaning was needed. The university sent Stotter a certified letter stating the date that his lab would be cleaned, but the letter arrived after the event. The university is considering an appeal.
Pennsylvania police officers shot and killed a Seton Hill University student early Sunday morning after he threatened his roommates and himself with a gun and started shooting from his apartment into the street, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The student for several hours shot at parked cars and other houses, but police returned fire after he shot at an officer, the newspaper said. Friends of the student said that the shooting stunned them and that the incident wasn't in any way typical of the way he treated people. Police said that the student had been drinking heavily at a strip club prior to the shootings.
The University of South Florida is investigating Abdul Rao, senior vice president for research, after he was seen on a video, posted on YouTube, taking a bicycle from the loading dock of a research center at the university, The St. Petersburg Times reported. Rao, whose salary and stipend total nearly $400,000, said he took the bike to help a homeless friend who needed it for a short period of time and planned to return it. The bike belonged to a graduate student.
Five former students and a current student have sued East Stroudsburg University and several of its senior officials for failing to stop a former vice president from inappropriate sexual behavior toward students, The Morning Call reported. Isaac W. Sanders left his position as vice president in charge of fund raising and the university foundation in October amid reports of an inappropriate relationship with a student. According to the lawsuit, Sanders provided students with financial assistance, such as by placing funds in their tuition accounts, and then followed up with inappropriate sexual banter or groping. A lawyer for Sanders and a spokesman for the university both said that they could not comment on the suite.
Northern Illinois University on Saturday marked the first anniversary of the shooting deaths of five students by awarding a scholarship in the name of each victim, the Chicago Tribune reported. Virginia Tech on Friday announced that classes would not be held on April 16, the second anniversary of the killings that took place there on that date in 2007. However, the university announced a plan to eventually resume holding classes on that day, starting in 2012. While the statement said that April 16 will always be marked by a memorial on the campus, and that many students today don't feel ready for regular classes on that day, the statement also cited the significance of returning to classes on the anniversary date. Provost Mark McNamee said in the statement that "teaching and learning are the heart and soul of the university and holding classes on April 16 is a special way to honor the faculty and students who were lost or injured. Faculty members and students are joined together in a special way in the classroom. On balance, we felt it would be best to make a transition to a regular class schedule in a gradual manner."
Scientists and university presidents in the United States are generally excited about the new Obama administration, given the president's support for more research funds, and his appointments of highly respected scientists to key positions. But as Britain's Times Higher Education reported, good news in the United States for science may not be as positive north of the border. Canada has enjoyed an influx of scientific talent from the United States during the Bush administration. Now, at a time that Canadian support for research is stagnant, Canadian academic leaders fear a reverse migration.
C-SPAN is marking Presidents Day 2009 with an update of its 2000 survey of historians on the performance of U.S. presidents. Abraham Lincoln held the top spot, while George Washington moved up to second place from third, switching positions with Franklin D. Roosevelt. George W. Bush, in the survey for the first time, landed at #36, just after John Tyler and just ahead of Millard Filmore. The rankings are here and a list of the historians who participated may be found here.