Quick Takes: Seattle VP Quits, Scrutiny of Travel at Mesa, Desegregation Suit, Pentagon Spying, British Spying, E-Mail Dispute, Presidential Leave After DUI Arrest, Katrina Claims Questioned, Impact of Black Colleges, Shleifer Loses Chair and Keeps Job

October 16, 2006
  • Rev. Tony Harris on Thursday announced that he would quit as vice president of Seattle University amid controversy over allegations that he was accused 10 years ago -- in a case that was settled -- of harassing a seminary student, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. In e-mail to students and faculty members, Father Harris said it would be "a distraction" for the university for him to stay. Since press reports about the incident a decade ago, the university has been facing criticism for hiring Father Harris.
  • An investigation by the Arizona Republic has found that officials at Mesa Community College took numerous trips abroad, sometimes billing the college for expenses not apparently tied to the trips' purposes. Since 2001, college officials have billed the institution for 16 trips, traveling to places like Britain and the Netherlands almost twice a year. On some trips, the newspaper documented the college getting billed for site-seeing and dining expenses prior to the start of official business. College officials defended the trips as part of their effort to create international programs, but the newspaper noted that some community colleges that are leaders in international programs and exchanges manage to do so without frequently subsidized travel by employees. When the newspaper asked the chancellor of the Maricopa Community College District -- of which Mesa is a part -- about the travel, he suspended all international travel in the district, pending a review.
  • A group made up of supporters of Morgan State University, a historically black institution, is seeking a court order in Maryland to block the creation of certain programs at predominantly white institutions, The Baltimore Sun reported. While state officials have defended the programs as meeting academic needs, supporters of Morgan State and other black colleges say that they are duplicative of efforts at and divert funds and students from black colleges -- in violation of the state's desegregation agreement. The move comes at a time that supporters of public black colleges nationally are planning to sue the U.S. Education Department to try to force tougher enforcement of desegregation pacts.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union has released documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act with new details about Pentagon spying on student and other groups opposed to the war in Iraq.
  • British officials are preparing to ask university employees to spy on "Asian looking" or Muslim students who may be involved in extremist groups, The Guardian reported. The British newspaper reported that government officials have prepared a document to be sent to universities stating that some Islamic groups on campuses have become recruiting grounds for terrorist groups, and thus require more monitoring by everyone. Wakkas Khan, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, told the paper: "It sounds to me to be potentially the widest infringement of the rights of Muslim students that there ever has been in this country.... It sounds like you're guilty until you're proven innocent."
  • A retired professor at San Diego State University is pledging to ignore a university request that he stop using his institutional e-mail account to send messages to organize rallies against illegal immigration. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that officials say that the professor is violating a ban on using university resources for non-university business. But Stuart Hulbert, the professor, says he's being punished for his political views because the university does not always enforce the rule.
  • Evelyn C. Lynch is taking a medical leave from the presidency of Saint Joseph College, in Connecticut, following her arrest for drunken driving, The Hartford Courant reported. Board leaders told the newspaper that Lynch requested the leave.
  • Bishop State Community College, in Alabama, requested and received nearly $900,000 from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, even though state officials said that insurance funds had covered all of the college's Katrina expenses, The Press-Register reported. College officials told the newspaper that the state underestimated the extent of damage at the Mobile institution.
  • Historically black colleges' economic impact exceeds $10 billion annually, according to a new report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • While Harvard University won't say what punishment it gave Andrei Shleifer, a prominent economist accused of violating ethics rules while advising the Russian government, it appears that there was a punishment. The Boston Globe reported that he apparently lost his endowed chair, but continues to hold his full professorship. At Harvard, endowed chairs do not typically provide recipients with more money.
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