Quick Takes: Howard President Criticized, UK Cuts Visa Fees, Neo-Nazis Protest Mizzou, Contract Talks Ordered at Mich. Tech, Another Tragic Accident, Seminary Sued, Rescinded Invite, Rescinded Gift, Degree Shift in Russia, Always Check Your Math

March 12, 2007
  • The Faculty Senate at Howard University has sent the institution's board a letter complaining about the management of H. Patrick Swygert, the president since 1995, The Washington Post reported. The letter said that the university is in poor shape because of "incompetence and dysfunction" and called for Swygert to be replaced. Swygert told the Post that he had no intention of stepping down, that the university was experiencing many successes, especially in fund raising, and that the letter reflected Howard's commitment to free expression.
  • Britain is cutting the application fees for student visas from 129 to 99 pounds -- a savings of roughly $58 that will bring British fees in line with those for students seeking a visa to study in the United States, The Guardian reported. British universities pushed for the change, saying that they had lost international students to the United States and wanted to be more competitive against American universities.
  • A small group of neo-Nazis held a rally in Columbia, Mo., Saturday to protest what they alleged to be Marxism at the University of Missouri, The Columbia Tribune reported. Several hundred others -- many of them from the university -- watched and protested. Seven people were arrested and police used pepper spray at one point to keep the two sides apart.
  • A state administrative judge has ordered Michigan Technological University to resume contract talks with the faculty union, a unit of the American Association of University Professors, the Associated Press reported. In 2005, amid contract talks, the university gave professors raises and that prompted a petition to revoke the AAUP's role as a bargaining agent. The judge ruled that the raises were an unfair labor practice that would make any vote on union representation unfair. Instead, talks were ordered between the parties.
  • A week after an accident that has now resulted in the deaths of five baseball players at Bluffton University, another Ohio institution is facing a tragedy. Three Urbana University students from China, enrolled in an M.B.A. program, were killed Friday in an accident, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
  • A woman who lost a tenure-track position is suing Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, saying that its unwillingness to allow women to teach men training to become pastors violated her rights, The Dallas Morning News reported. The chair of the seminary's board previously described the woman's hiring to the Morning News as a "momentary lax of the parameters."
  • A professor at Ashland University had his invitation to speak at George Mason University rescinded after some Muslim students complained that the advocated violence against Muslims,  the AP reported. But the professor -- who while highly critical of Iran says his views have been distorted -- says he has been invited to speak after all, and the dispute may have to do with university rules about how groups may sponsor events.
  • Stephen Bing, a major donor to Stanford University, has rescinded a $2.5 million gift to the institution and is encouraging others to do likewise because of a $100 million research deal the university made with Exxon Mobil to conduct research, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Bing saw a television ad from the energy company boasting of the deal, and said he believed Stanford was being used for public relations purposes. Stanford officials declined to comment on Bing's actions, but said that they were doing important research with the Exxon Mobil money.
  • Russian officials have approved a plan to replace the five-year Soviet-style degrees offered at many universities with three-year bachelor's degrees and two-year master's degrees, The Moscow Times reported. The reforms are in line with the "Bologna Process," under which European nations are pushing to better align their higher education systems.
  • Rhode Island higher education officials are trying to figure out what to do about budgeting errors that are creating a $37 million budget gap. The Providence Journal reported that the budget for higher education in the state for 2007-8 assumed that $292.6 million would come from tuition and fees, including a 6 percent increase that has been approved. The actual amount to be generated is about $37 million less than that. It is unclear how the gap will be closed.
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