Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 3, 2009

Ralph Slaughter has sued the Southern University Board of Supervisors, challenging its decision not to renew his contract as president when it expires at the end of June. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Slaughter argues that board members were illegally polled in private, before the public vote on his future. As a result, Slaughter is seeking an injunction to void the vote to end his presidency. The suit also contends that some board members had orders from Gov. Bobby Jindal to remove him. The university board's lawyer denied wrongdoing and a spokesman for the governor said that the claim about Jindal's role is "absolutely not" true.

April 3, 2009

A former Harvard Medical School professor falsified data in a study of sleep patterns and has agreed not to participate in Public Health Service activities for three years, the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. The announcement, which was published in the Federal Register, said that Robert B. Fogel, a former assistant professor of medicine at Harvard and former co-director of the Fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, fabricated data in a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that contributed to a paper on sleep apnea and obesity. The research integrity office said that Fogel had entered into an agreement to exclude himself for three years from serving in any advisory capacity to the health service and to ensure that any institution that submits a research proposal that includes him must submit a plan to supervise his work.

April 3, 2009

The University of Puget Sound announced that in May it will award honorary bachelor of arts degrees to 39 former students who were among the Japanese Americans sent to internment camps in 1942. University officials believe that only a handful of the former students are still alive, but Puget Sound is trying to reach family members of the deceased, so that the degrees can be presented to someone in person. “Each loyal student removed from campus at that time represented a life and an education suddenly interrupted,” said Ronald R. Thomas, president of the university, in a statement. “By granting these degrees now, we complete a circle, welcoming these individuals into the ranks of alumni and returning them to full inclusion in the Puget Sound community.”

April 3, 2009

The Calder Foundation and the University of Virginia have announced a policy change in response to an unusual protest about a scuplture. When the university installed "Tripes," a masterpiece by Alexander Calder, on the campus, a sign was posting barring photographs of the work, which is on loan from the foundation. Students took to Facebook, suggesting that the policy be protested by having as many people as possible shoot photos of the work -- and students responded, as seen in this photograph from The Cavalier Daily. The university responded with a clarification: While the Calder Foundation bars photography of the sculpture for commercial purposes, students are free to take as many pictures as they would like for their own personal use.

April 3, 2009

A Vancouver accountant has won a victory for all of those who have clashed with the all-powerful campus parking police. Ruling in a class action, a provincial court has found that the University of British Columbia never had the power to issue parking tickets, The Vancouver Province reported. While the university has the right to remove cars that are illegally parked, the court ruled that the university could only charge for costs, not impose additional fines. As a result, the university has been ordered to repay million of dollars of fines it has collected. The case was started by an accountant who was fined and had his Jaguar impounded. Court records in the case suggest that many of those who park at the university weren't waiting for a court ruling: From 1990 through 2005, 432,847 traffic tickets were issued and more than half were never paid.

April 2, 2009

Student and faculty leaders at Chicago State University are objecting to the two finalists named for the presidency there, the Chicago Tribune reported, viewing them as political insiders at a time that the institution could use an outside academic perspective. One finalist is Wayne Watson, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, who has clashed numerous times with faculty members there, Professors voted no confidence in him in 2005, following a strike. The other finalist is Carol Adams, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. Some students plan to wear black as a sign of protest when Watson and Adams appear on campus in the next stage of the search.

April 2, 2009

The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday published detailed guidance about the tens of billions of dollars it is making available to states to restore funds cut from their elementary, secondary and higher education programs. The department distributed the guidance -- as well as applications for states to submit to qualify for the funds -- as Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that it was releasing $44 billion of the more than $100 billion in funds Congress appropriated to the department to distribute to help save jobs and stimulate the economy. Among the clarifications offered by the department are several that relate to which funds may and may not be counted as state support to public colleges in calculating how much the states must restore to make the institutions whole. For instance, the department notes that "state funding for financial assistance to students attending public [institutions of higher education] is not considered state support for these institutions." It further says that states have "some flexibility" in determining what should be included; "[f]or example, a state may consider state appropriations for public higher education that are obtained from general tax revenues, as well as funds that are obtained from other sources (e.g., tobacco settlement funds and lotteries). ... A state may also include interest or earnings received from State endowments pledged to public IHEs. ... [A] state may also include such support as: (1) State appropriations for community colleges to support adult education and career and technical education programs; and (2) State payments that are made on behalf of employees of public IHEs but that are appropriated to a different State agency (e.g., group insurance contributions that the State appropriates to a central State agency, and State contributions to [institution of higher education] employee retirement systems that the State appropriates to the State agency responsible for administering retirement systems)."

April 2, 2009

Paul Zingg, president of California State University at Chico, was assaulted in his office on Wednesday. The Chico Enterprise Record reported that authorities detained a man who arrived in the office asking to "speak with the person in charge" and who then struck Zingg in the face and started assaulting him in a conference area in his office. Zingg suffered only minor injuries and was back at work later in the day. Authorities arrested Abe Baxter Stutts Jr. for the assault and could not determine a motive. Stutts is neither a student nor an employee of the university.

April 2, 2009

Officials at Brigham Young University are apologizing for an accident last week in which all of the students in the College of Humanities (about 2,500) received an e-mail with the grade point averages of all of their fellow students, with names. University officials said that the e-mail with the students' grades was intended for the registrar, and never should have been sent out to everyone. Officials apologized and pledged to institute controls to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

April 2, 2009

Ward Churchill's lawsuit against the University of Colorado is now in the hands of the jury. The Denver Post reported on closing arguments in the case, in which Churchill maintains he was fired for his political views and the university says that he was fired for repeated instances of scholarly misconduct. Patrick O'Rourke, the universit's lawyer, closed by saying: "The University of Colorado must diligently prevent misconduct. That applies to every student and every faculty member to everybody who does anything in the university's name. You cannot plagiarize, you cannot falsify, you cannot fabricate." David Lane, Churchill's lawyer, stressed his belief that university officials were not truthful when they explained the motives for dismissing Churchill. "The regents, the lying liars, and almost all of them got on the stand — you heard them lie about what was on the table," Lane said. "So they go through this charade of fairness."

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