Quick Takes: Museum Drops Suit Against Fisk, Harvard Loses Investment Chief, Social Work Education Criticized, Advice on Affirmative Action, Bloody Bar Fight

September 12, 2007
  • The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum announced Tuesday that it is dropping a suit to challenge the sale by Fisk University of two paintings from its prized collection of modern art, The Tennessean reported. The museum had charged that the sale violated the terms of the art bequest from O'Keeffe, but the university argued that it needed the money both to care for the art and for other purposes. The museum's action dropping the suit is a big win for Fisk, which is informal discussions with a new art museum in Arkansas that may be willing to pay $30 million for the art collection for the shared right with Fisk to display the art. Tennessee's attorney general has also become involved in the dispute, however, and has not signed off on such an arrangement. The dispute has prompted a larger debate in the college art world over if and when colleges should sell parts of their collections.
  • Harvard University is looking for a new investment chief -- again. Mohamed A. El-Erian announced Tuesday that he is quitting as president of the Harvard Management Company at the end of the year to return to his former company, the Pacific Management Investment Company, where he will become CEO. El-Erian took over at Harvard last February. Last month, Harvard announced endowment returns of 23 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, bringing its total value to nearly $35 billion -- more than any other college endowment.
  • The National Association of Scholars issued a new report Tuesday criticizing social work education as a "national academic scandal" because its programs' mission descriptions and curricular requirements are "chock full of ideological boilerplate and statements of political commitment." In addition, the report questions the Council on Social Work Education, which accredits colleges based in part on whether the provide "social and economic justice content grounded in an understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnections of oppression." The report issued Tuesday is in many ways similar to a complaint filed by the association with the Education Department in 2005. A spokeswoman for the Council on Social Work Education said that only one person there could respond to questions about the report's criticism and that person was not available Tuesday.
  • The American Council on Education has issued a paper with advice for colleges on issued raised by a Supreme Court decision this year that limited the use of race in school assignment in elementary and secondary school systems. While the ACE paper notes that the Supreme Court did not bar the use of affirmative action in college admissions, the council's analysis notes that the justices appeared skeptical about some ways that race might be used in educational decisions. Specifically, the council urged colleges to make sure that they have considered race-neutral alternatives, that the use of race is linked to institutional missions, and that colleges not rely on the need for "critical mass" of minority students.
  • A bar fight in Oklahoma left a man sporting a University of Texas at Austin T-shirt nearly castrated and has set off discussion of just how extreme some sports loyalties may be, the Associated Press reported. While the actual events in the bar are disputed, some are concerned by those voicing support for attacking fans. "I've actually heard callers on talk radio say that this guy deserved what he got for wearing a Texas T-shirt into a bar in the middle of Sooner country," one lawyer told the AP.
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