Quick Takes: Boston Mayor Wants to Overhaul Community Colleges, Tornado Hits Embry-Riddle, Duke President Calls for DA to Give Up Case, Stafford Dies, $355K Theft Alleged at Bridgewater State, Med Dean Defends Pepsi Board Work

December 27, 2006
  • Thomas M. Menino, the mayor of Boston, is so frustrated with the performance of community colleges that serve the city that he is exploring plans to have the institutions report to the city rather than the state, The Boston Globe reported. Officials of Bunker Hill and Roxbury Community Colleges indicated that they are willing to consider the mayor's ideas. Menino has criticized the colleges low graduation rates (not even 15 percent) and called for them to offer more programs that would train people for jobs in the financial services and life sciences industries.
  • A Christmas Day tornado hit the administration building and also damaged many planes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. While damager was extensive, no injuries were reported, in part because hardly anyone was on campus. A statement from the university said that it expected to be operational when classes resume next month, although planes may need to be rented to replace damaged ones.
  • Duke President Richard H. Brodhead on Friday called for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong to turn over the lacrosse case to an "independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process." Brodhead issued the statement after Nifong dropped the rape allegations against three Duke students who were at the now notorious lacrosse party. Brodhead said that dropping the rape charges "must call into question the validity of the remaining charges." As more evidence has become public that casts doubt on the allegations against the students, some groups have criticized Brodhead for not coming to their defense -- and such groups are now praising Brodhead's latest statement.
  • Robert Stafford, who as a U.S. senator from Vermont from 1971 to 1989 played a key role in shaping higher education policy, died Saturday at the age of 93. The major federal student loan program is named for Stafford. Stafford was a Republican who wasn't afraid to rebuke Republican Education Department officials with whom he disagreed. He was among a group of New England lawmakers -- Sen. James Jeffords, a Vermont independent who is about to retire; former Sen. Claiborne Pell, a Rhode Island Democrat; and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat -- who for decades played a role disproportionate to their region's size in shaping legislation affecting colleges.
  • Massachusetts officials indicted a former financial administrator at Bridgewater State College on charges of stealing $355,000 from the institution, The Boston Globe reported. College officials fired the accused bookkeeper, Clare Werner, in 2005.
  • PepsiAmericas, a major unit of the Pespi soft drink and snack food conglomerate, recently named a medical school dean, Deborah Powell of the University of Minnesota, to its board. The Associated Press reported that some public health experts want to know why a medical dean would accept the post at a time that so many health professionals believe that soft drinks and snack food are producing an epidemic of obesity and poor nutrition among American youth. Powell, who told the AP that she would not have accepted a position on a tobacco company board, said that she felt she could "make a difference" on the PepsiAmericas board, which she said would act "in a responsible way to ensure that the company is successful and shareholder value is maximized and people take into account responsibile stewardship" on health and other issues.
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