The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday rejected an appeal of a former professor of the University of Texas at San Antonio, who sued for damages when the university cleaned his laboratory, and threw out some notebooks he says should not have been removed. The decision noted that the professor was warned several times that his laboratory posed a safety hazard. Further, the court ruled that he had failed to show that he had a "protectable property interest" in the notebooks. The former professor had won a jury trial, but the judge threw out his victory, saying that there was not evidence to support it, and the appeals court ruling said that the judge acted appropriately.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Blackboard, the e-learning giant, and SunGard Higher Education, the information-management provider, on Thursday announced a partnership that they say will make life easier for the colleges that use both companies’ services. Under the new agreement, each company will make a new effort to familiarize itself with the other’s products, with the promise of better integrations between those products and better support if any of those integrations go awry. “Our clients rely heavily on integrations between SunGard and Blackboard products,” noted Ray Henderson, president of Blackboard Learn, in a news release.
When Duke University held a celebration of its basketball team's championship Monday afternoon, the university broke an agreement made with faculty members not to hold such events during class times, The New York Times reported. In 2006, the university agreed to hold such events only in the evenings. The provost, Peter Lange, told the Times that "there was a planning meeting, and someone at the meeting was assigned to check in with me about whether there was an agreement. That person never got in touch with me.” Lange said that any future agreements would abide by the agreement. Richard Hain, a mathematics professor who had pushed for the agreement, said: “How can somebody schedule a major event that wipes out basically all undergraduate classes the whole afternoon, without talking to the provost?”
Two anonymous donors have saved the baseball team at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. In a statement, Chancellor Joe Gow said, “Massive state budget cuts forced us to end funding for baseball at the close of the 2008-9 academic year, and it appeared that we would have to end a key program with a long and rich history. Fortunately, many private donors came forward, and thanks to their kindness, the UW-L baseball program is able to operate during the current year.” The La Crosse Tribune reports that the $100,000 donation helped the team reach its five-year funding goal of $175,000, a benchmark it was required to meet by the UW system to ensure its continuation. Still, the gift assures the team's survival for only five more years. Boosters say they are working to make the team self-sufficient by 2015.
A norovirus outbreak has forced the closure of the Harvard Faculty Club, The Boston Globe reported. About 100 people who ate there from Sunday through Tuesday have become ill.
Co-authorship of journal articles is of course quite common, especially in the sciences. But Times Higher Education quoted a professor who studies the ethics involved about his discovery of an article with more co-authors than any other work he had found. The article, in The Astronomical Journal, features 144 authors. That works out to an average of 36.3 words for each author.
Faculty members and students carried signs and spoke out Tuesday at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the College of the Redwoods, The Times-Standard reported. They complained of low morale and a squelching of dissent, citing a recent incident in which employee comments on a recent administration survey of employees were removed from the college's Web site. Board members had split reactions, with some expressing concern and others defending the administration. One trustee suggested that students and faculty members needed to remember that they were only part of the college. ”You're part of it,” he said, “but you're not all of it.”
A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Wednesday rejected Vanderbilt University's arguments that its researchers deserved joint credit for inventing two of the underlying compounds and methods for treating erectile dysfunction that resulted in the hugely profitable (and high-profile) drug Cialis. Two of the three judges, whose decision upheld a lower court's 2009 ruling, concluded that Vanderbilt had not proven that its researchers qualified as joint inventors of the patented work, even though the lower court had erred in the approach it used to reach its judgment. A third judge, in a dissenting opinion, said the appeals panel should have overturned the lower court's ruling.
A report by United Educators, which insures many colleges and universities, finds that students brought 38 percent of claims against the institutions from 2004 to 2008. Of the student claims, 80 percent involved bodily injuries (many in cases in which alcohol was involved). Of the bodily injury claims, the top category was slips and falls (29 percent), followed by assaults (20 percent), vehicle and other accidents (19 percent) and athletics (9 percent).
A South Carolina judge on Tuesday extended a temporary order that is keeping in place the board of Erskine College. Leaders of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church have been trying to gain control of the board, in part by firing many of its members, and college alumni and others have filed suit to block those actions.