A marine conservationist who has battled with -- and, it appears, lost to -- the University of Alaska and National Sea Grant Program officials over his perceived advocacy and access to grant money says he will leave the university. Rick Steiner had accused Sea Grant officials of pressuring Alaska administrators to strip federal funds from Steiner, citing work that they considered to be inappropriate advocacy for a federal extension agent, and blamed university officials for caving to the pressure. The university rejected Steiner's final appeal this month, and Steiner said in an e-mail Sunday that with the faculty union there declining to pursue outside arbitration, "it is abundantly obvious I cannot do my work from this institution."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of the Free State, a South African institution, has been facing intense criticism over an announcement that it would readmit four white students whose racist videos -- showing the humiliation of black students -- set off a huge debate in the country. The university had said that the decision would be one of racial reconciliation. But now officials are reconsidering. A statement released Sunday said: "In the light of the criticism of decisions related to the [video] matter, the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) has decided to re-open consultations and discussions with all stakeholders concerned in order to deliberate on a way forward for the institution and especially for the staff and students concerned."
Faculty members at the University of Oregon -- frustrated by their salary levels and dealings with the administration -- have invited the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers to organize the professors there, The Eugene Register-Guard reported. The two groups are exploring a drive to organize faculty members at Oregon State University. While many public colleges have faculty unions, they tend to be at community colleges and regional universities, not at flagship research universities.
The University of Minnesota has apologized to Pennsylvania State University for the actions of Goldy Gopher, a mascot, that were seen as insensitive, ESPN reported. Goldy Gopher -- seen in a video on YouTube -- saw a Penn State player praying on the field before last weekend's game between the two university's squads. Goldy Gopher then got on its knees to pray, a move seen as mocking the praying player. A Minnesota spokesman said: "We have reiterated to Goldy the importance of exercising appropriate religious sensitivity in the future."
M. Wayne Knight, a professor of art at Humboldt State University, died on Wednesday from complications brought on by H1N1. He had been hospitalized for several days. Humboldt State has been experiencing an outbreak of H1N1. In the last week, the number of students treated at the campus health center for H1N1-like illnesses rose to 47, up from 21 a week earlier. No students have been hospitalized.
A new transfer student at Sacramento State University was bludgeoned to death in his dormitory room, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The main suspect is one of the student's roommates, who was shot and wounded after police say he came at them with a knife. No motive has been determined for the crime.
A House of Representatives committee on Thursday approved legislation that would create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency designed to increase federal oversight of several forms of consumer credit, including private student loans. The measure, approved by the House Financial Services Committee along largely party lines and backed by the Obama administration, is heartily endorsed by consumer and student groups. But they were disappointed by the House panel's rejection Thursday of an amendment that would have made clear that the new agency had authority to regulate loans provided directly to students by for-profit colleges and universities. Advocates for the colleges had argued that the amendment -- proposed by Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and longtime critic of the institutions -- was unnecessary because such loans, designed to cover the gap between students' federal aid and the price of attendance, are already covered under existing federal laws.
The University of Mississippi has shortened its fight song, hoping to discourage fans from responding to the song with a traditional chant of "the South will rise again," the Associated Press reported. The student government has been trying to change the chant to "to hell with LSU," citing the way the phrase about the South rising again is offensive to some. At last week's football game, some fans stuck wit the original chant.
The University of Texas at Austin has abandoned a controversial plan to cut the foreign language requirement in its College of Liberal Arts from 16 to 12 credits. In an e-mail sent this week to the faculty, Randy Diehl, the dean of the college, noted that at a faculty meeting to discuss the idea, "[i]n three and a half hours of give and take, not one audience member spoke in favor of the proposal.... In view of the overwhelming negative reaction to the proposal, I have decided to withdraw it from further consideration."
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is facing intense lobbying to limit stem cell research, now that the Obama administration has cleared the way for far more use of stem cells than was allowed by the Bush administration in federally backed studies. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Nebraska Right to Life, which endorsed five of the regents when they won their board seats, is urging them to limit research at the universities to studies that would have been permitted under the Bush policy. Scientists opposed that policy as far too restrictive.