The University of Texas Board of Regents, already accused of micromanaging the president of the University of Texas at Austin, has ordered him not to delete any e-mails, The Austin American-Statesman reported. Some regents have been gathering information on Bill Powers, the president, and are widely believed to want to force him out of office. Powers has backing from the faculty, student and alumni leaders. A spokesman for Powers said he was complying with the request. But State Senator Kirk Watson called the regents' order "extraordinarily disappointing," adding that "its breadth under the guise of a specific review begs the question for the motivation of the request. What’s the purpose? Why the global reach?”
Leading universities such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have successfully lobbied for the defeat of proposed new ways for the government to pay for research overhead, The Boston Globe reported. Currently universities negotiate rates for a percentage of grants awarded that they receive to cover overhead expenses. Harvard's rate is 69 percent, which is much higher than most rates. The Obama administration wanted to shift to a single flat rate for all institutions, but leading universities opposed the idea and it has now been withdrawn.
A former student found shot to death in his dormitory room at the University of Central Florida killed himself after abandoning a plan to attack the campus, The Orlando Sentinelreported. Authorities said that James Oliver Seevakumaran had failed to register for spring classes but had remained in the dorm. They said he had multiple weapons and explosives and had reportedly pulled a fire alarm early Sunday morning, with the aim of shooting students as they sought to leave the dorm. But he apparently altered his plan, returned to his room, and shot himself in the head.
Rebecca M. Blank, acting U.S. secretary of commerce, was named Monday as the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, pending formal approval by the Board of Regents. Blank's career as an economist has included positions in government and academe. From 1999-2008, she was dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. David Ward, a former chancellor, has been serving as interim chancellor at Madison since July 2011. At that time, Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin ended a three-year term -- which included controversy over her proposals to give Madison more autonomy from the state -- to become president of Amherst College.
In order to make good on an earlier pledge to freeze tuition for at least two years, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, formerly Indiana's Republican governor, announced in a letter Monday that the university would be looking for at least $40 million in savings over the biennium. "It has been too easy in higher education for institutions to decide first what they would like to spend, and then raise student bills to produce the desired funds," Daniels wrote. "That approach has run its course. At Purdue, we will make our first goal affordability, accommodating our spending to students’ budgets and not the other way around."
As a first step toward accomplishing those savings, Daniels announced that he would eliminate merit pay raises for all senior administrators, deans and administrative and professional staff with salaries of more than $50,000 for the next two years, a move projected to save $5 million. The freeze would not apply to faculty members. He also said in a Faculty Senate meeting Monday to expect additional announcements later this month.
Florida A&M University, still trying to recover from a deadly hazing scandal and much criticism of its finances, on Friday suspended a search for a new president, The Orlando Sentinelreported. The move came five days before the board was planning to start interviewing candidates. Solomon L. Badger III, chair of the board, said that the decision had nothing to do with the quality of the candidates. Rather, he said it was more important that he and Interim President Larry Robinson work on steps that would lead to the removal of Florida A&M's probationary accreditation status.
Union County College is suing its former president, Thomas Brown, for $409,000 that he received during the course of nearly two decades at the college, The Star-Ledgerreported. The dispute concerns funds used for Brown's retirement accounts. The college contends that contributions of $23,000 a year for his retirement funds were supposed to come out of his salary, but instead came as extra payments. Brown denies the charges.
Professors who study fracking have been at the center of much public debate over the controversial method of obtaining natural gas. On Friday, the University of Tennessee won preliminary state approval to authorize fracking on its land,The New York Times reported. The university says that the plan will generate revenue and also create an opportunity to study the impact of fracking. Many environmental groups say that, based on what is known about fracking, the university should not be using its land in this way.