Quick Takes: Saint Louis U. President Stuck in Beirut, Questions on Auburn Athletes' Grades, NSF Spending Increase Advances, Harvard Reportedly Losing Gifts, Settlement on Washington State Salaries, Controversial Professor Leaves Leeds

July 14, 2006
  • The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, president of Saint Louis University, has been trapped in Beirut by the Israeli attacks on the city, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Father Biondi had to call off plans to give the commencement speech at Lebanon's Notre Dame University, when the ceremony was postponed due to the fighting. The Post-Dispatch reported that Father Biondi had been in contact with Saint Louis University officials and said he was safe and waiting out the violence.
  • The New York Times is reporting today that many football players at Auburn University earned top grades and kept their averages high through "directed reading" programs that apparently required little work or class attendance.
  • On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the spending bill a subcommittee had crafted for science, and the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce. The bill would provide the 8 percent increase to the National Science Foundation requested by President Bush as part of his American Competitiveness Initiative. While the National Institute of Standards and Technology's total budget would be down, the research budget would rise. Legislators marked some of the money for
    NSF's education programs, which was not part of the president's request.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that four major gifts to Harvard University, worth a total of $390 million, have fallen through because of the departure of Lawrence H. Summers as president. Supporters of Summers have been saying for months now that Harvard would lose out because of his departure. However, it is unclear whether Harvard really had all of the money coming -- regardless of who is president. One of the "lost" gifts -- $115 million from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison -- appeared to be in doubt well before the departure of Summers became clear.
  • Washington State will pay about $30 million to settle a lawsuit by thousands of state employees -- about half of them at public colleges and universities -- over salary inequities, The Olympian reported.
  • Frank Ellis has retired early as a professor of Russian and Slavonic studies at the University of Leeds, in Britain, following a furor over his public statements that black people are less intelligent than white people. The university said that it agreed to pay his salary for an extra year, and some of his legal costs, in a settlement agreement. In March, Leeds announced that it was investigating whether comments by Ellis violated university rules with his statements. Some faculty members at Leeds are upset that Ellis was allowed to leave without facing the inquiry, The Yorkshire Post reported.
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