Quick Takes: Art Disputes at Fisk and Randolph, Education Dept. Oversight Faulted, Publishers' Lobbying Questioned, Ave Maria Law Accreditation at Risk, Miracle for Stonehill, Noose at Maryland, Trips and Spa Treatments, U. of Hawaii Settles Suit

September 11, 2007
  • A Tennessee judge on Monday rejected a proposed settlement of a dispute between Fisk University and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum over the university's desire to sell some of its noted collection of modern art, The Tennessean reported. Fisk and the museum had agreed on a deal in which the university would have sold the museum an O'Keeffe masterpiece and been able to sell other paintings to other parties. But the judge ruled that a new offer from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a new Arkansas institution, might be better for the state because this offer would allow Fisk's full collection to stay in Nashville half of the time. More litigation is now expected. And more litigation is also expected in Virginia, where 11 alumnae, donors, and others plan to seek a court order to block Randolph College from selling any of its art. The college -- until recently Randolph-Macon Woman's College -- has said that it may need to sell some of its highly regarded collection of American art to deal with financial difficulties. Critics of the possible sale are also critics of the college's recent move to admit male students.
  • As it has in the past, the Education Department's own inspector general is criticizing the agency's oversight of student loan programs. In a new report, the inspector general found that certain federal financial requirements were not being met at 16 of 27 guarantee agencies reviewed, and that insufficient information was available for the rest of the guarantee agencies.
  • The Association of American Publishers is continuing is campaign against legislation that would require federally sponsored research to be made available online and free. The association's latest effort -- called the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine, or PRISM -- warns that the open access movement could endanger peer review and the health of academic research. While the arguments the publishers are making are similar to those they have been making for a few years, a number of academic groups are issuing statements to indicate that many in higher education support the open access movement and believe it will help students, researchers and libraries. A letter from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition summarizes those statements and arguments.
  • The American Bar Association has informed the Ave Maria School of Law, which it accredits, that the law school may not be in compliance with the requirement that it is maintaining an adequate faculty, The Wall Street Journal reported. The law school is in the process of moving from Michigan to Florida, a move questioned by many professors. The debate over the move has also led to broader questions from many professors about whether the administration will tolerate any criticism. Ave Maria officials have defended the move and their treatment of the faculty.
  • An apparent gas leak caused the off-campus house of four students at Stonehill College, in Massachusetts, to explode Monday, and the president is calling it a miracle that the students survived. The students were treated at a hospital and three have already been released.
  • The University of Maryland at College Park is investigating how and why a noose was placed outside buildings housing several black student organizations, The Washington Post reported. Police said that they are considering the incident a hate crime. C.D. Mote Jr., the president, issued a statement in which he said the institution "would not tolerate discrimination" and that "I know that I speak for the entire University of Maryland community in saying that we are dismayed at this possible hate crime."
  • Testimony in the trial of Priscilla Slade, the ousted president of Texas Southern University, facing charges of misuse of state funds, was detailed and potentially damaging Monday. The Houston Chronicle reported that Slade's former assistant testified about travel to Maine, Costa Rica and Rome; spa treatments for the then-president; and an annual manicure-pedicure party. Slade has defended her spending as necessary to cultivate donors and maintain a proper image for the university.
  • The University of Hawaii has settled a lawsuit filed by a professor who was essentially banished from campus and prohibited from contacting colleagues or students while officials investigated allegations that he engaged in “intimidating, hostile and bullying behavior.” According to the Star Bulletin, the university paid Michael D’Andrea $30,000 for lawyers’ fees and court costs and wrote a letter indicating that, “in the future, the University of Hawaii will be more careful in issuing restrictions regarding university employee contact and access to the university's facilities." D’Andrea remains suspended from his job with pay.
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