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Quick Takes: Swarthmore Settles on ADA Review, U.S. Backs Suit Against Michigan, Paterno Salary Will Become Public, Defaults Kill Football at Rainy River, Faculty Jobs in Canada, Life in the Mailroom

November 21, 2007
  • Swarthmore College has agreed to take a series of steps to improve the accessibility of facilities to people with disabilities, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday. The out-of-court agreement follows a compliance review in which the department found "barriers to access" related to doors, restrooms, seating, signage and interior and exterior circulation routes. For more than a year, the Justice Department has been conducting a series of compliance reviews on how well (or not) colleges comply with laws that bar discrimination against those with disabilities. Stuart Hain, associate vice president for facilities and services at the college, said that the Justice Department had been fair in its review. Hain said that he didn't know what the agreement would cost Swarthmore because one of the first requirements is a thorough review of facilities. Hain said that while Swarthmore has long been committed to making the campus accessible, there are challenges because "we are an old campus, on a hill."
  • The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed a motion to back a lawsuit by the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America that charges that the University of Michigan's football stadium lacks enough seats that are accessible for people in wheelchairs. The U.S. Education Department is also challenging Michigan on the issue and while the university has denied violating the law, it has pledged to increase the number of accessible seats. Justice Department support is likely to strengthen the challenges to Michigan's legal position. In a statement, Rena J. Comisac, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said: "Attending football games is a key element of campus life at the University of Michigan, both for students and alumni. We seek to ensure that the university's iconic football stadium, the largest stadium in the United States, has the accessible seating and amenities that federal law requires."
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the salary of Pennsylvania State University's football coach, Joe Paterno, must become public. While Penn State is a land grant university with funding patterns similar to many other land grant universities (all considered public institutions), Pennsylvania's unusual higher education system classifies the university as "state-related" and thus exempt from many typical disclosure requirements. But the Supreme Court ruled that employee information from Penn State becomes public when officials participate in the state's retirement system, which Paterno does. Penn State issued a statement pledging to comply with the ruling, but noting that none of Paterno's salary is paid with state funds.
  • Rainy River Community College, in Minnesota, has announced that it is eliminating its football program because of the athletes' impact on the institution's loan default rate, The International Falls Daily Journal reported. The college's default rate has been rising -- recently topping 31 percent, with football players as the majority of defaulters -- and officials fear that the college could lose eligibility for the loans unless default rates can be reduced.
  • Canadian colleges and universities will probably need to replace half of their professors in the next decade, according to a new report from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The hiring -- in large part to replace faculty members expected to retire -- could have a significant impact on the gender balance of Canadian faculties. Currently, about 42 percent of new hires are women. But more than three-quarters of professors who are 55 and older -- the cohort approaching retirement -- are men.
  • Obviously, students these days wouldn't use snail mail for an actual letter. But as The New York Times reported, students love to shop online and that has resulted in many college mailrooms receiving unusual items for which the mailrooms were not designed. Among them: car tires, ant farms, pool cues and air conditioners.
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