Quick Takes: Richard Rorty Dies, Dartmouth May Alter Trustee Selection, False Charge at MiraCosta, Eastern Mich. Misreported Murder, Protection for Student Press, American U. in Cairo Lose Veil Case, Alberta Debates Tobacco Funds, Boycott Fallout

June 11, 2007
  • Richard Rorty, one of the leading philosophers in the United States, best known for his studies of pragmatism, died Friday. A detailed biography of Rorty appears online in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and a bibliography is on Rorty's home page at Stanford University, where he was an emeritus professor. Reflections and resources on Rorty are appearing on many academic and literary blogs, including Continental Philosophy, TPM Cafe, The Valve, Crooked Timber, Waggish and Leiter Reports.
  • Dartmouth College's board announced Friday that it was studying possible changes in the way trustees are selected. Dartmouth's board is a mix of members elected by one another and those elected by alumni in elections. The last four members elected by alumni were candidates who were not nominated by the official nominating committee -- and all four were critical of the college's administration. A statement from the board said: "The alumni trustee nomination process has recently taken on the characteristics of a political campaign, becoming increasingly contentious, divisive and costly for the participants.... We believe a highly politicized process for trustee selection -- and one which may dissuade many highly qualified alumni from seeking nomination -- may not be in the best interests of Dartmouth or its students."
  • The president of the board of MiraCosta College, in California, has apologized for accusing faculty and staff leaders of vandalizing his home, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. In an apology sent to all employees, Charles Adams, the board chair, said he didn't believe that recent vandalism was really committed by faculty or staff leaders and said that "I sincerely regret" having made the accusation. The board and employees have been involved in a series of disputes and Adams went on to say that "I do believe that the climate created by the Academic Senate leadership has contributed to and cultivated a campus climate that nurtures malicious gossip and unfounded allegations and attacks."
  • Eastern Michigan University on Friday released a report that found that the institution violated federal crime reporting laws and misled students and faculty members when officials suggested that there was no foul play in a student death last year -- a student death now considered a rape and murder, The Detroit News reported.
  • The Illinois House and Senate have passed legislation, now under review by the governor, to protect student journalists at public colleges from administrative censorship, the Chicago Tribune reported. The legislation -- similar to a measure enacted in California -- is designed to reverse the impact of a 2005 federal appeals court ruling involving the paper at Governors State University, in Illinois.
  • Egypt's top court has apparently ruled that American University in Cairo cannot bar from campus women wearing face veils, the Associated Press reported. However, the court said that woman wearing face veils may be required to uncover their faces, to female guards, when entering the campus. University officials said that their lawyers were studying the decision, which may not be the final one in the case. On the issue generally, the statement said that "the policy prohibiting face veiling was established by the university because all members of the AUC community have a basic right to know with whom they are dealing, whether in class, the library, labs or anywhere else on campus. It is not a religious issue. In fact, AUC does not have a policy restricting the hijab (hair covering)."
  • Leaders of the University of Alberta School of Public Health are pushing for a ban on research financed by the tobacco industry, CanWest News Service reported. Faculty members raised the issue out of concern over a professor's $1.5 million project on chewing tobacco, in which the grant funds come companies that sell such tobacco. The lead researcher said that the ban some of his colleagues want -- and that would require approval by the university's board -- would violate his academic freedom. A similar debate has been taking place at the University of California.
  • The vote by Britain's main faculty union to support a boycott of Israeli professors and universities continues to have reverberations for governments and academics. Britain's higher education minister is headed to Israel to condemn the boycott and to pledge his government's willingness to use educational links to promote peace in the region, the BBC reported. On the legal front, Anthony Julius -- a British lawyer best known for representing Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles -- is teaming up with Harvard University's Alan Dershowitz on representing any Israeli academics who face difficulties because of the boycott and who wish to sue, The Guardian reported. Hillel, the worldwide group of Jewish students, last week issued a statement condemning the boycott.
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