Quick Takes: Animal Rights Activists vs. Berkeley, Sallie Mae Warning on Loans, Contract for Part-Timers at GW, Flagship Leaders Under Fire, Cambridge Fires President, Virginia Returns Sculptures, Missing the Point of de Beauvoir

January 7, 2008
  • The University of California at Berkeley has seen a sharp increase in activities by animal rights groups this fall, with researchers reporting midnight visits at their homes from protesters and leafleting at the soccer games of professors' children, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Last year, the University of California at Los Angles was a major target of animal rights groups, and in one incident an attempt to bomb a professor's home ended up causing an explosion at the home of the professor's neighbor.
  • Sallie Mae, the student loan giant, is warning that it may cut back on volume of both government-backed and private student loans, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company is citing cuts in government subsidies and other shifts in the lending industry.
  • After an extended legal fight over a union election for part-time faculty members, George Washington University and the Service Employees International Union have reached agreement on a first contract. Under a summary released by the union, key provisions included are: more protection against discharge, more job security through rights granted after teaching specified numbers of courses, and significant increases in the minimum per-course payments. The minimum for a 3-4 credit course taught by a faculty member with a terminal degree will be $3,800.
  • Loren Crabtree resigned as chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on Thursday, following a series of conflicts with John Petersen, president of the university system. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Crabtree, along with Knoxville faculty, objected to plans to move key programs such as the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory from Knoxville to system control. In Louisiana, meanwhile, reports are circulating that Sean O'Keefe may be in danger of losing his job as chancellor of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, The Times-Picayune reported.
  • The board of Cambridge College fired Mahesh Sharma as president on Friday, following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate spending of college funds, The Boston Globe reported. The inquiry started after reports surfaced that Sharma had used college funds for his nephew's tuition, and the probe also found other problems, such as spending $5,000 in college funds on rugs for his home, the Globe reported. Sharma's lawyer told the newspaper that his client had done nothing wrong and was disappointed in the board vote.
  • The University of Virginia is returning to Italy two rare sculptures that date to 525 B.C. under an unusual agreement involving works removed from Italy under questionable circumstances. The works are believed to have been discovered in 1978 and eventually entered the art market. In 2002, the works were donated to the university under an agreement in which the university pledged to turn them over to Italy after five years of research and preservation work.
  • France starts a celebration this week of the centennial of Simone de Beauvoir's birth, but many scholars are worried that too much attention will be paid to the philosopher's sex life and not enough to her ideas, The Guardian reported.
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