Quick Takes: Affair Prompts University President to Quit, Turnover Possible at AAUP, 3 Marshall Students Killed, Tasered Student Sues UCLA, SMU President Defends Bush Library Plan, New Take on International Competition, MTV Buys RateMyProfessors

January 18, 2007
  • The president of Florida Gulf Coast University resigned Wednesday after admitting that he had an affair with a female faculty member. In a statement at an emergency meeting of the public university's Board of Trustees, William C. Merwin said he had "faltered in my duty," having been "involved inappropriately in a relationship with a female faculty member." ( A videotaped recording of the statement is available on the Web site of The News-Press of Fort Myers.) He expressed sorrow for his behavior "and the pain it has caused," particularly to his wife and family. After Merwin concluded his statement, the chairman of the board, Scott Lutgert, credited him for his candor and thanked him for his eight years of service to the institution. But "there's no question that this was bad judgment," he said. The trustees appointed Florida Gulf Coast's business dean, Richard Pegnetter, as interim president.
  • Roger Bowen, the general secretary of the American Association of University Professors since 2004, was this week named one of five semifinalists to become chancellor of the North Dakota University System. Bowen has been playing a less active role in day-to-day management of the AAUP in recent weeks, with the association announcing that for the next six months, he would focus on the association's fund-raising campaign and efforts to improve the group's visibility. Bowen, via e-mail, said he was "keeping my options open." Bowen was a college president -- at the State University of New York at New Paltz -- before joining the AAUP. In his current position, he has been a forceful advocate for faculty rights, but he also presided over the association during the embarrassing collapse of its planned conference on academic boycotts.
  • Three Marshall University students have now been confirmed as fatalities in a fire over the weekend in an apartment building in Huntington, West Virginia. Initially, only one Marshall student was reported dead, but authorities had difficulty recovering and identifying victims' bodies.
  • A student who was on the receiving end of taser shocks from police at the University of California at Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit charging the university with using excessive force and violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Los Angeles Times reported. Mostafa Tabatabainejad was shocked multiple times in a UCLA library when he refused to show his identification, and video of the incident, circulated widely on the Internet, has prompted multiple law enforcement reviews.
  • Southern Methodist University will ensure that academic freedom and free inquiry are protected in any agreement to play host to the Bush presidential library, the university's president insisted Wednesday in a speech to the faculty senate, according to the Dallas Morning News. The comments by R. Gerald Turner, SMU's president, were the first since the selection committee for President Bush's library announced that the university was the only finalist. Faculty members have expressed alarm at the prospect and have not been assuaged by Southern Methodist's plan to have any institute associated with the library be overseen by President Bush's foundation.
  • Demos, a British think tank, has published a report, "The Atlas of Ideas: How Asian Innovation Can Benefit Us All," that explores the growth of science and technology in Asia and offers suggestions on how other countries might respond. As with many recent reports, the Demos study notes the tremendous advances in science and technology in Asia, but it also calls for a more nuanced understanding of what various countries are doing well -- and not so well.
  • MTV Networks on Wednesday announced that it was purchasing RateMyProfessors.com, the Web site students love and professors hate. MTV has been purchasing other Web sites that attract large numbers of college students. The MTV statement said that it hoped to expand RateMyProfessors.com "into new areas that will help students get much more from their college experience."
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