Quick Takes: Faust Didn't Say It, Questions on Colorado Choice, Slippage at Sallie Mae, Charleston Southern Settles Suit, Reforming Higher Ed in Middle East, $5M Surprise for Temple U.

February 6, 2008
  • Business Week has published a clarification stating that Drew Faust, Harvard University's new president, did not say that it would be wise for public universities to focus on the humanities and social sciences and to less ambitious science than is being conducted at Harvard and other elite private research universities. The comments attributed to Faust angered many public university leaders and prompted a group of provosts to publish a joint response. But the magazine, based on a review of the recording of the interview, now says that Faust said only that some universities were adopting that strategy, not that they were wise to do so or should do so. A letter from Faust and the clarification from the magazine may be found here.
  • Bruce Benson, the only finalist named by the University of Colorado Board of Regents to become system president, is facing tough questions -- and a vandal -- on the Boulder campus. The Rocky Mountain News reported on an open forum at which Benson, a career energy industry executive whose highest degree is a bachelor's, was grilled by students and faculty members. He was asked about his lack of an advanced degree (he said he would leave academic decisions to campuses), whether he believes in climate change (he promised not to interfere in research), his Republican ties (he pledged to work only on behalf of the university), his DUI (he said it was a long time ago and he took responsibility) and his donation to a legal defense fund for former Sen. Bob Packwood, who faced sexual harassment charges (he said everyone deserves a defense). Also this week, a painting of Benson in a geology building named for him was defaced. Someone wrote on it: "I've given CU enough $ for an individual right-wing nut like me to be CU's president."
  • Sallie Mae's stock fell Tuesday after the Standard & Poor's credit agency reclassified its rating to just one level above junk, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, a group of investors who believe that the student-loan giant did not provide full and accurate information about its financial condition last year announced plans for class action against Sallie Mae.
  • Charleston Southern University has agreed to pay almost $4 million to investors who were duped by a former economics professor who managed to swindle them, the AP reported. The university knew that Al Parish was investing the funds (he also invested endowment funds -- and the university lost out as well) but denied responsibility for the fraud.
  • A new report from the World Bank -- "The Road Not Traveled" -- is encouraging significant reforms at all levels of education in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • While many donors do not want to be identified, one has gone to unusual lengths. Temple University has received two gifts -- for a total of $5 million -- sent as cashier's checks to preserve anonymity, The Philadelphia Daily News reported. The donor wants updates on how the money will be used, but they will be provided through a bank, not directly to the donor.
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