Quick Takes: Arrests at Board Meeting, Speaker Uninvited, Critical Voice Wins Dartmouth Race, Mixed Reaction to Mass. Shake-Up, Concerns on Patent Legislation, California Supreme Court Rejects Stem Cell Challenge, Illinois Drops Sudan Investments

May 18, 2007
  • Thirteen protesters were arrested Thursday when they disrupted a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents, the Los Angeles Times reported. The protest was held on behalf of student hunger strikers -- including six who have consumed only water for nine days -- who want the university system to stop all activities that could help the development of nuclear weapons.
  • The College of St. Mary, in Nebraska, called off plans for an executive of Girls Inc., a group that favors abortion rights, to be the graduation speaker on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. A local priest had asked people to protest the selection of the speaker at the Roman Catholic college, which is affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy. Sister Maryanne Stevens, president of the college, said that sticking with the original speaker "had the potential to mar our graduation ceremonies."
  • Dartmouth College announced Thursday that Stephen Smith, a law professor at the University of Virginia, had won an alumni election for a seat on the college's board. Smith used the petition process to enter the race, becoming the fourth person in recent years to do so, and to defeat candidates placed on the ballot by an official alumni nominating committee. Like the previous insurgent winners, Smith has been critical of college policies. His platform calls for cutting back "bureaucracy" at the college, insisting on small classes, and more support for the Greek system and athletics.
  • A governance overhaul for the University of Massachusetts is drawing very mixed reactions. The Boston Globe reported that many faculty members at the flagship campus at Amherst are upset over the announcement that John Lombardi would be retiring as chancellor in a year. Lombardi (an Inside Higher Ed columnist and blogger) is credited by many professors with raising the stature of the institution. Under the reorganization, Jack M. Wilson, the system president, will have more oversight over the Amherst campus. At the Boston campus, however, many are pleased with the announcement that Keith Motley, who was passed over for the chancellorship there two years ago, will now be getting the post on the campus.
  • Five associations that represent universities have issued a joint statement on proposed legislation moving in Congress to reform patent law. The general theme of the document is that Congress has ample reason to update patent law, but that it should be mindful of unique issues faced by universities -- as opposed to business entities -- in handling inventions.
  • The California Supreme Court on Thursday refused to consider two appeals of lower court rulings upholding the right of the state to create a new agency to support research on stem cells, The San Jose Mercury News reported. By refusing to consider the appeal, the court cleared the way for the $3 billion state agency to move ahead with supporting a range of research grants.
  • The University of Illinois System has become the latest institution to sell its investments in companies that do business in Sudan, the AP reported. According to the AP, Illinois will sell holdings, in four companies, worth a total of $2.3 million.
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