Robert Burton, a donor to the University of Connecticut, is asking for his $3 million donation to be returned and for his family name to be removed from the football complex because the athletic director did not discuss his choices for a new football coach, The Hartford Courant reported. Burton made the demands in a letter to Gov. Daniel P. Malloy, writing "[D]on't underestimate me or what I have outlined and requested in this document.... I have already secured legal counsel from several law firms. If you are looking for a fight, then you have selected the right family. You have hurt and embarrassed the Burton family for the last time." The governor said he planned to review the matter with UConn officials before commenting, but did say that "I think it's important that universities run themselves and do so appropriately."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A local alumnus and his wife are giving the University of California at Los Angeles $100 million to strengthen (and rename) its School of Public Affairs and proceed with a hotel and conference center that some faculty oppose, the Los Angeles Times reported. A news release from the public affairs school said it would be renamed the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs, and said its $50 million share would be used mostly to build endowments to provide graduate student fellowships, faculty teaching and research, and civic engagement. The Times story said the other funds would help UCLA build a new facility to replace its current faculty club, and that the project is being challenged as unnecessary and risky at a time of financial strain.
The Chinese Communist Party has stepped up its monitoring of students at campuses throughout the country, according to a Central Intelligence Agency report obtained by Secrecy News, a project of the Federation of American Scientists. The monitoring involves the widespread use of student informants, and some students are reported to authorities based only on a facial expression.
Questions are being raised about why the 26-year-old son of Marshall Goodman, the University of South Florida Polytechnic chief, was hired for a $50,000-a-year job at the institute, The Ledger reported. University officials said that nothing inappropriate happened, and that the son was simply hired first as a temporary worker and then applied for and received the full-time job.
North Carolina's State Board for Community Colleges voted Friday to permit community colleges in the state to bar the enrollment of students who may pose a significant health or safety threat, The Charlotte Observer reported. It remains unclear how the colleges would define the threats that rise to the level that students should be barred from enrolling. The move follows the news that the man accused of the deadly Tucson rampage this month had been a student at Pima Community College.
The Louisiana Board of Regents is moving ahead with a study of a possible merger of Southern Louisiana at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, by hiring an outside consultant to prepare an analysis of the idea by March 1, in time for legislative consideration, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, called for consideration of the merger, citing the low graduation rates and shrinking enrollments of the two institutions. But the plan is controversial, in part because Southern is a historically black institution -- and many advocates for black students in Louisiana believe that the institution has never been treated equitably and deserves to be built up. Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus has denounced the merger idea as a plan for the "systematic demise" of the state's historically black colleges. Also last week, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a national group of historically black colleges, issued a statement criticizing the proposal. The statement noted that a legislative commission recently considered and rejected the merger idea, finding that the institutions have different and important missions. "Now is not the time to destroy, but rather to strengthen the Southern University System," says the NAFEO statement.
As social media tools are increasingly used to respond to scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, many researchers are frustrated, according to an article in Nature. "Papers are increasingly being taken apart in blogs, on Twitter and on other social media within hours rather than years, and in public, rather than at small conferences or in private conversation," the article says. It goes on to quote many others who say that speedy response (even if of varying reliability) is actually a huge improvement over a system of waiting a long time for criticism of published articles.