Quick Takes: Madison Provost Warns Controversial Instructor, Gender Gap in Patents, Review Ordered of BU Lab Plans, Rejected Trustee Hopefuls Sue Governor, New Presidency for Former Baylor Chief, Do Jocks Earn More?

August 4, 2006
  • Patrick Farrell, the provost of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, sent a letter last month to a controversial instructor, Kevin Barrett, criticizing him for continuing to publicize his views and telling him to keep the university's identity separate from his views. "If you continue to identify yourself with UW-Madison in your personal political messages or illustrate an inability to control your interest in publicity for your ideas, I would lose confidence that your assurances with regard to the course can be believed," Farrell wrote. The letter was released this week on a Madison Web page of documents about the controversy over Barrett, who argues that the United States government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. When Barrett's views became public this summer, many politicians demanded that Madison fire him, but Farrell last month said that to do so would be inconsistent with academic freedom.  Barrett has said that he is just responding to press inquiries and not seeking attention, but opposition continues to grow. The Ozaukee County Board voted Wednesday to cut its support for the university's extension program by $8,427 -- the amount of Barrett's pay for a course on Islam this fall.
  • Women in the life sciences in higher education patent their work at a rate of 40 percent of their male colleagues, according to a study being published today in the journal Science. In a random sample of 4,227 life scientists over a 30-year period, the study found that 5.65 percent of the 903 women in the group (51 female patenters) produced only 92 patents. By contrast, 13 percent of the 3,324 male scientists in the sample (431 male patenters) amassed a total of 1,286 patents -- nearly 14 times as many as their female colleagues.
  • A state judge has ordered a review of a controversial bioterrorism research laboratory planned by Boston University. While the university has said that plans feature all necessary safety provisions, the judge found that the state hadn't conducted an adequate review, The Boston Globe reported.
  • Three nominees to the Murray State University Board of Trustees sued Gov. Ernie Fletcher, saying that he broke Kentucky law by not appointing one of them, since their names were put forward by a state nominating committee, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The governor, who has had a continuing dispute with the Murray State board, declined to comment.
  • Robert B. Sloan Jr., whose tenure at Baylor University divided the campus, has emerged as the sole candidate to become president of Houston Baptist University, The Houston Chronicle reported.
  • Do college athletes earn more in their careers than non-athletes? New research published in the Journal of Human Resources provides evidence either way. Experience as a college athlete appears to increase earnings, on average, for those in business, the military or manual labor. But there is a negative impact on those who teach in high schools.
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