Quick Takes: SUNY-Albany President Dies, President Returns to American U. of Beirut, Stealth Visits, Missionary Hired at CC, Probes at Irvine, Suit in Plagiarism Case, Rest of Missing Egyptian Students Found, Copyright Problems Detailed

August 14, 2006
  • Kermit L. Hall, president of the State University of New York at Albany, was killed in a swimming accident in South Carolina on Sunday. The Island Packet reported that Hall was pronounced dead at a hospital in Hilton Head after being found 75-100 yards offshore. Hall became president at Albany in February 2005, after serving as president of Utah State University and provost of North Carolina State University. A historian of the U.S. legal system, Hall frequently spoke about legal issues facing higher education. At Albany, Hall was deeply involved in efforts to promote collaborations between SUNY and China and in efforts to improve undergraduate education. He shifted $100,000 last year from a fund for his inauguration to a new undergraduate scholarship program. In an interview shortly before taking over at Albany, Hall discussed his career and his views on the importance of public higher education.
  • John Waterbury, president of American University of Beirut, returned to the campus last week, after being unable to return from a trip to the United States when violence broke out in Lebanon. In an e-mail interview, he said that he flew to Jordan and then traveled overland through Syria, crossing into Lebanon at its northern border. Israel bombed the crossing both the day before and the day after Waterbury used it, he said. If the cease-fire that is scheduled to start today holds for about a week, Waterbury said the university would schedule a three-week period for summer courses in September, to be followed in October by the start of the academic year. In a message to the university, Waterbury said: "We don't know what comes next. What we do know is that AUB is our anchor in the storm. Its legacy is in our hands, and that legacy is one of fortitude, patience and resolve."
  • An article in The Boston Globe Sunday revealed the way many candidates for the presidencies of private colleges make secret visits to the campuses they may want to lead. A common tactic, the Globe said, is to bring along a relative in high school and pretend to be looking at the college for a prospective student.
  • Jewish leaders are criticizing Harper College, an Illinois community college, for hiring a leader of the missionary group Jews for Jesus to teach a comparative religion course, the Chicago Tribune reported. While the new instructor has promised to be fair to all groups, Jewish groups say that Jews for Jesus distorts Jewish teachings to encourage conversion to Christianity.
  • Steven G. Potkin, a leading professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine, has been credited for major research breakthroughs and landing large grants. But the Los Angeles Times reported that he has been the subject of several investigations by the university into whether he conducted some investigations without proper authority, and potential conflicts of interest. Potkin told the newspaper that he had done nothing wrong, and the Times reported that although Irvine ordered Potkin to stop certain activities, it never sanctioned him.
  • Jay Gunasekera, a professor who supervised the work of some of the 37 Ohio University master's graduates found to have plagiarized parts of their theses, is suing the university for defamation, saying that his role has been distorted, the Associated Press reported. University officials -- who have released detailed reports on the alleged plagiarism -- told the AP that they would contest the suit.
  • All of the 11 missing exchange students from Egypt have now been found, the AP reported.   Federal officials have been looking for the students, who entered the United States, but failed to show up at their program at Montana State University. Meanwhile, the president of Mansoura University, the home institution of the missing students, told The Baltimore Sun that the students were attracted by the dream of life in the United States. Magdy Abou Rayan, the president, said that although the incident has led to considerable criticism of his institution by the fundamentalist Muslim press, he would push ahead in promoting exchange programs.
  • Copyright restrictions limit the spread of digital learning tools in schools and colleges, according to a new report from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, at Harvard University.
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