Quick Takes: Head of Aid Officers' Group to Retire, Trying to Lure Gordon Gee, Contract Talks Extended in Pennsylvania, B-School Recruiting Payoffs, Gallaudet on Probation, CDC Suspends Texas A

  • A. Dallas Martin, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, plans to retire in December, after 32 years at the group's helm, the last dominated by intense controversy about the association's response to the student loan scandal.
  • July 2, 2007
  • A. Dallas Martin, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, plans to retire in December, after 32 years at the group's helm, the last dominated by intense controversy about the association's response to the student loan scandal. In an e-mail message to the NASFAA board Friday, its chair, Janet Dodson, said that Martin had "long planned to retire at the end of 2007," and that he had told her of his plans to last year, after nearly 50 years in aid administration. But Martin's announcement comes after a brutal year for him and his association. Not only have some of the aid group's members been singed by revelations of questionable or improper behavior, but NASFAA has been in the thick of the controversy. First Martin drew praise from some association members for leaping to their defense when New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, early in his investigation into college/lender ties, suggested that problems were systemic; Martin said Cuomo had "dishonored their good names." But as inquiries by Cuomo and others expanded, NASFAA's own practices -- including its acceptance of significant funds from lenders to finance its annual meeting -- came under scrutiny, ultimately leading Martin to appear by Cuomo's side to apologize for criticizing the attorney general and to announce that the group would settle with Cuomo and embrace the code of conduct he has been promulgating. Some members of NASFAA's board have reportedly been unhappy with Martin's decision to settle with Cuomo, suggesting that he had sold them out. But his supporters argued that he had little choice given how the political winds were blowing and the damaging nature of some of the revelations.
  • Ohio State University has been trying to recruit E. Gordon Gee, its president during the 1990s and now chancellor of Vanderbilt University, to return to his old job, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Gee was popular in Ohio, and is also so at Vanderbilt, so popular in fact that when The Wall Street Journal reported on his extremely high compensation, most on campus said he deserved it. At Vanderbilt, Gee has put money and his personal recruiting skills into attracting top faculty members. Gee gave the Columbus paper a close-to-Shermanesque statement about the Ohio State presidency, saying that his commitment to Vanderbilt was "unwavering and unshakable."
  • The faculty union for the 5,500 professors who teach in the 14 campuses of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education agreed to hold off for at least 24 hours on a strike planned for today, The Patriot-News reported. The previous contract expired June 30 and negotiators were far apart going into negotiations this weekend. But officials with the union and the system said that progress was made over the weekend. Negotiations will resume today.
  • As competition for top business school graduates increases, some companies are relying on professors to do screening and to steer them promising students -- for cash, according to the new issue of Business Week. Most of the time, the payments go to the business schools (frequently for the programs favored by the favored professors), but sometimes payments are made to professors directly, the magazine said.
  • Gallaudet University has been placed on probation by its accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Robert Davila, president of the university, informed the campus of the action on Friday, and said it was "not unanticipated." Gallaudet has been through a series of debates about its leadership and direction in the past year, and Davila is in office because student protests led the board to rescind an offer to its first choice as president. Davila said that the university was working on the issues identified by Middle States, which The Washington Post reported included concerns about leadership and retention.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suspended all research at Texas A&M University involving the most dangerous infectious diseases, The Dallas Morning News reported. The CDC's action is an expansion of an earlier suspension in the wake of the revelation that the university did not report two incidents in 2006 of human exposure to dangerous biological agents.
  • Opposition continues to grow to the push by leaders of Britain's faculty union to have professors there boycott academics and universities in Israel. The Guardian reported that faculty members at the University of Oxford are demanding a full vote on the issue. Support for the boycott has generally been strongest at smaller conclaves of faculty leaders, and universitywide votes have suggested that a majority of professors oppose the boycott. On the other side of the pond, the Association of American Universities is the latest group to condemn the boycott. A statement issued Friday said on behalf of its 62 research universities in the United States and Canada said: "Academic boycotts are inimical to the free exchange of ideas that is essential to academic freedom. Members of the academic profession should seek to preserve academic freedom, not restrict it."
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