Quick Takes: Applications Are Up, UCLA Search Collapses, Hefty Phone Bill, Adjunct Quits BC Over Rice, Harvard Backed in Firing Bipolar Worker, Former Texas President to Lead Math Panel, J-School Fight at SIU, Maryland Violations

May 15, 2006
  • Continuing a recent trend, applications to colleges were up again in 2005, following a slight dip the previous year. More than 70 percent of colleges reported increases in applications, according to the 2006 "State of College Admission" report, by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Women submitted about 55 percent of the applications. The survey also found that the percentage of students applying online, which has been on the rise, hit 53 percent last year, up from 47 percent in 2004 and 35 percent in 2003.
  • Deborah Freund, provost at Syracuse University, was expected to be named the next chancellor of the University of California at Los Angeles, perhaps as early as this week. But negotiations have fallen apart, apparently over whether her husband, an economist, could join UCLA's economics department, the Los Angeles Times  reported. Freund had been the only finalist for the job and the search is now re-opening.
  • Colleges could face a collective annual increase in their phone bills of up to $480 million if the Federal Communications Commission moves ahead with planned changes in phone fees. That figure is based on an analysis released Friday by a new coalition opposed to the proposed changes. Many college groups have been concerned about the impact of the proposed changes and pushing for changes in the FCC plans.
  • Steve Almond has quit his position as adjunct professor of English at Boston College to protest the institution's decision to have Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, give the commencement address this year. In an open letter in The Boston Globe, Almond noted the errors of fact in Rice's statements during the build-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and said, "I cannot, in good conscience, exhort my students to pursue the truth and knowledge, then collect a paycheck from an institution that displays such flagrant disregard for both." Hundreds of students and faculty members at Boston College have been pushing for the institution to withdraw its invitation. But others have said that their protest amounts to political correctness.
  • The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against Harvard University over its firing in 2003 of Michael Mammone, who was an assistant in a university museum and who has bipolar disorder. Mammone charged that the university violated state anti-bias laws that protect the employment rights of people with disabilities, including mental disorders. But the court found that Mammone's behavior that led to his dismissal -- including maintaining a Web site criticizing the university, working on that Web site during work hours, having loud and animated discussions at work about the Web site, and refusing meetings with supervisors and ignoring their warnings -- meant that he failed to demonstrate that the was a "qualified employee" under the statute. One judge dissented, saying that the court did not give enough weight to the years in which Mammone worked without incident.
  • The Bush administration has selected Larry R. Faulkner, who recently retired as president of the University of Texas at Austin, to lead the new federal panel on math education, The New York Times reported. The vice chair will be Camilla P. Benbow, dean of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University. President Bush created the panel in April.
  • Alumni of the journalism school at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale are up in arms over the dean, who they say is pushing media studies over real journalism training, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. One alumnus announced that he is calling off a planned multimillion dollar donation. The dean, Manjunath Pendakur, said that traditional journalism training remains strong and that alumni are being influenced by disgruntled faculty members upset with the dean's push for improvements.
  • The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has concluded that one of its members, Marvin Mandel, violated the board's ethics rules through his work as a lobbyist on behalf of clients before the General Assembly. However, the board determined that the violations were not intentional.
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