Quick Takes: U. of New Orleans May Declare Exigency, Senators Urge Pell Increase, Rutgers Reorganization, Purdue Inquiry on Fusion, Retirement Package at Neb. Wesleyan, SAT Scoring Error, Questions on UMass Pollster's Ties, Lesbian Homecoming King

March 8, 2006
  • The University of New Orleans, still suffering from the impact of Katrina, is seeking board approval to declare financial exigency, which would pave the way for layoffs, including those who have tenure, the Associated Press reported. No details have been released about the scope of the layoffs, but they could be significant.
  • Forty-three U.S. senators, 36 Democrats and 7 Republicans, have signed a letter urging the Senate Budget Committee to approve a budget resolution that would allow for an increase in the maximum Pell Grant to at least $4,500. The maximum award under the program for needy students has been flat at $4,050 for four years, and President Bush's proposed budget for the 2007 fiscal year would keep it at $4,050 for yet another year.
  • Rutgers University would combine four undergraduate colleges into a single College of Arts and Sciences under a revised reorganization plan released Tuesday by Richard L. McCormick, president of the university. The Rutgers board is expected to approve the plan later this week. An earlier proposal to combine the undergraduate colleges has been controversial, especially because one of the colleges is for women. McCormick responded to those concerns by proposing to create a women's residential college within the undergraduate institution.
  • Purdue University is investigating "extremely serious" concerns about the research of Rusi Taleyarkhan, a professor of nuclear engineering who has published articles saying that he had produced nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment, The New York Times reported. While the research was published in Science in 2002, the findings have faced increasing skepticism because other scientists have been unable to replicate them. Taleyarkhan did not respond to inquiries from The Times about the investigation.
  • The student newspaper at Nebraska Wesleyan University and The Lincoln Journal Star have been printing leaked details about the negotiations that led to the announcement last month that Jeanie Watson would be leaving the presidency of the university after nine years in office. Reports of a $750,000 package that Watson will be receiving -- along with a confidentiality agreement -- have prompted students to hold protests to demand to know more about the president's resignation. University officials have said that the package is not unusual for a successful president.
  • The College Board plans to tell about 4,000 students who took the SAT in October that their scores were incorrectly low, due to scanning errors on their answer sheets, the AP reported. Colleges are also being notified of the errors.
  • The University of Massachusetts at Lowell announced that the head of its influential polling unit would no longer do freelance work for political candidates, after The Boston Globe inquired about and reported on that work.
  • A lesbian student at Hood College has been elected homecoming king, prompting the college to review the rules for the selection, the AP reported.
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