Quick Takes: Second Thoughts in California, Economist Admits Fraud, Nobel in Medicine, Benefits Data, Artifacts Dispute, 'Fighting Sioux' Warning, Removing Sex Offenders, Middlebury Seeks Campaign Record, 'Cloud Computing' Drive, 'Booze News' Questioned

October 8, 2007
  • Educators and others in the University of California and California State University Systems are increasingly questioning a budget deal the university systems reached in 2004 with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reported. Under the deal, the university systems accepted large cuts that year in return for pledges of budget stability through 2011. While system leaders say that the "compact," as it is called, prevented more severe cuts and enabled the universities to plan, critics say too much was given up by higher education, putting the universities on a path away from public support. The share of a University of California education covered by the state has dropped from 94.4 percent in 1965 to 58.5 percent today. Last week, Robert Dynes, who is leaving the presidency of the University of California, warned of "dark forces" that want to further diminish state ties to the university.
  • Al Parish, who was for years a prominent economist at Charleston Southern University known for his flashy wardrobe and big spending, on Friday admitted that he engaged in fraud with investments, effectively using millions from investors (including the university) on himself rather than investing the money, The Post and Courier reported. In a deal with prosecutors, he admitted guilt in 3 counts of an 11-count indictment, and faces a jail term of up to 20 years, plus fines. Parish's indictment stunned many in Charleston, and many at the university, which saw its endowment shrink as a result of the fraud.
  • The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded Monday morning, for work on the manipulation of genes, to three researchers: Mario R. Capecchi, a professor of biology and human genetics at the University of Utah; Martin Evans, a professor of genetics at Cardiff University; and Oliver Smithies, a professor at the medical school of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • About 40 percent of colleges offer benefits to same sex domestic partners of employees, while about 31 percent offer them for opposite sex domestic partners and 44 percent for the children of domestic partners, according to a new survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. The survey, most of which is available only to those who purchase it, also found that 36 percent of colleges now offer wellness programs. CUPA officials cautioned against making comparisons to previous years' data because this is not a "hard" survey in which the same institutions participate from year to year, so modest changes, of the sort that appear to exist, may reflect which institutions participated in the survey this year, not actual changes in practice.
    • Native American groups held a protest at the University of California at Berkeley Friday, drawing attention to a change in procedures by which the university decides which American Indian remains from its museum holdings should be returned to tribes for burial, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The university recently changed its procedures for such decisions, giving more power to museum officials and, Native American leaders say, excluding them from the process. Many of the Indian activists called for all the remains to be returned immediately. Berkeley officials said that they respected the concerns being raised, but that federal law specifies in which cases -- and to whom -- to release remains.
    • At the University of North Dakota, a new issue has emerged in the dispute over the "Fighting Sioux" team name and symbols that are beloved to many alumni -- and viewed as offensive by many Native American students and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Associated Press reported that campus departments and programs that publicly oppose the use of the name may create an "unwelcome" environment for students who love the name, and such an environment might open the possibility for discrimination complaints.
    • When the University of Washington found that 13 registered sex offenders lived in student neighborhoods, it appealed for help to state officials -- as high as the governor -- and now those sex offenders are being ordered by the state to move, The Seattle Times reported.
    • Middlebury College on Saturday announced a five-year to raise $500 million, which it says would be more than any liberal arts college has ever raised. Middlebury already has raised $234 million in the planning phase of the campaign. In 2005, Wellesley College ended a campaign with a total of $472 million, setting the liberal arts college record for that time. Williams College may also be in position to break that record. Williams reached the goal of its current campaign -- $400 million -- in June, with a year and a half left in the campaign, and said it would continue to push to raise more.
    • IBM and Google plan today to announce a major research program on "cloud computing," in which six universities -- led by the University of Washington -- will play major roles, The Wall Street Journal reported.
    • Booze News, a new publication with an emphasis on humor and booze, is being distributed in the neighborhoods of several large Midwestern universities. Features include much mention of boozing, and the newspaper also has a "bar grid" that allows students to compare drink specials at local bars. The Associated Press reported that on several campuses where the paper has been distributed, questions are being raised about its appropriateness.

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