Quick Takes: Jury Awards $5.85M to Fired Coach, Wellmark Withdraws Gift, NLRB Win for Some Grad Students, Conflicts and Conferences, Mizzou Salaries, Interim Chancellor for Calif. 2-Year Colleges, Fayetteville State Chancellor Quits, Lost and Found

July 10, 2007
  • A California jury awarded $5.85 million Monday to the fired women's volleyball coach at California State University at Fresno, concluding that the university engaged in discrimination when it failed to renew the contract of Lindy Vivas in 2004. Vivas had argued that Fresno officials let her go because she pushed aggressively for gender equity in athletics. University administrators said her performance in leading the program had been lacking. Vivas told The Fresno Bee that the jury's verdict "validates what we’ve been saying, confirms what we said happened at the university all these years." She is one of three former sports officials who have sued Fresno State on roughly similar grounds. In a prepared statement, university officials said they were "extremely disappointed that the jury did not see that the university’s actions in this matter were based solely on Ms. Vivas’ job performance and her unwillingness to improve the volleyball program." They vowed to "actively pursue an appeal."
  • Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has withdrawn a $15 million gift offer to the University of Iowa that was supposed to be linked to the naming of the College of Public Health for the company, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. Faculty members have been angry over the plan to name the college after a company, and have called on the university not to agree to such a change. A letter from the company to the university, quoted in the Iowa City paper, said: "Unless and until there is unwavering support from both the college and university administrative leadership for a major gift as originally solicited by the college’s capital campaign committee leadership, our gift offer will remain withdrawn."
  • When graduate students' pay comes through a private foundation affiliated with a public university, they still have the right to unionize, according to two recent rulings by the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has ruled that teaching assistants at private universities lack that right, but said that the foundations involved did not change the status of unionized graduate students in the two cases, one involving the City University of New York and one involving the State University of New York.
  • An article in today's New York Times explores the way some conferences allow vendors to pay for one-on-one access to education officials at conferences. An article last year in Inside Higher Ed explored the issues raised by one such sponsor of conferences.
  • The University of Missouri at Columbia has started a major campaign to increase faculty salaries, but with a price: millions in spending cuts and savings from leaving some open positions vacant, The Kansas City Star reported.
  • The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges on Monday selected Diane Woodruff, vice president of the Community College League of California and former superintendent of the Napa Valley Community College District, as interim chancellor of the massive two-year college system. Woodruff is expected to serve for a year while the system searches for a permanent chief.
  • T.J. Bryan, chancellor of Fayetteville State University, in North Carolina, announced her resignation Monday, the Associated Press reported. Byran, who has been chancellor since 2003, has faced scrutiny over the university's finances and a new nursing program drawing complaints from students and state officials.
  • Black Hawk College, in Illinois, is celebrating the recovery of Sizzle, a horse stolen in March and spotted and recovered last week. Quad-Cities Online reported that a student in Black Hawk's equine program spotted Sizzle in a July 4th parade in Streator, Ill. The people who had Sizzle in the parade were apparently a few purchases away from the thief and didn't know the animal's real provenance. At Southern Methodist University, students are celebrating the return of a robot, kidnapped days before an international robot competition, and found in a duffel bag near an Interstate, The Dallas Morning News reported. The newspaper reported that the students who created the robot are repairing it and declined a police offer to dust it for prints.
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