Quick Takes: Loyalty Oath Compromise, Sudden Departure at Miss. State, Athletic Realities, Physicist Wins House Seat, Whistle Blower Accused of Plagiarism, Short Story Leads to Guns, MIT and Carleton Expand Aid, Lender Layoffs, Rankings Parody

March 10, 2008
  • Marianne Kerney-Brown, who was fired last month as a mathematics instructor at California State University East Bay, has her job back. Kearney-Brown is a Quaker and pacifism is part of her religious faith. She was fired after trying to insert the word "nonviolently" before the state-required pledge of support for the Constitution. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that, in a compromise, the California State University presented her with a statement she could attach to the oath that says: "Signing the oath does not carry with it any obligation or requirement that public employees bear arms or otherwise engage in violence." With that addition, Kearney-Brown said she could sign -- and get her job back.
  • Robert H. Foglesong, president of Mississippi State University, stunned the campus Friday by announcing that he would be leaving office by June, after only two years in the position. Foglesong's statement was vague about the reasons for his departure, saying he wanted to help the "university move forward." The Jackson Clarion Ledger reported that Foglesong, a retired Air Force general, has had a series of conflicts with students and professors, and that faculty leaders had been concerned from his arrival that they had played a minimal role in the search process.
  • Most athletic scholarships cover only a small fraction of college costs, according to an analysis in today's New York Times. The article explores the mismatch between the expectations of many families, who expect a full ride, and the colleges with scholarship programs, where top awards typically are offered only in selected sports. The sport with the most lucrative scholarships on average is ice hockey -- for men and women. Men's riflery and women's bowling have the smallest awards.
  • The special election in Illinois Saturday to fill the Congressional seat long held by Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the house, is drawing considerable attention because the Democratic candidate won in a typically Republican district. The outcome is also notable because the winner, Bill Foster, is a physicist, who spent most of his career at Fermilab. Foster played up his scientific background. His section on endorsements on his campaign Web site features separate lists of Nobel Prize winners and other scientists. The Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying in his victory speech: "Back in the laboratory, this is what we'd say was a pretty successful experiment."
  • Hussein S. Hussein, a professor at the University of Nevada at Reno, is facing charges that he plagiarized the work of graduate students. But The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Hussein, an animal nutrition expert, charges that the accusations are retaliation for charges he has filed alleging that the university has been mistreating animals.
  • The University of Virginia's College at Wise has expelled a student whose creative writing paper included references to suicide and the Virginia Tech shooter, and who was late found to have guns in his car, The Roanoke Times reported. The student told the newspaper that he didn't intend to harm anyone and that although he violated campus rules by having the guns in his car, he owned them legally. Ever since the Virginia Tech killings, creative writing instructors have debated how to handle student fiction that might indicate a serious problem.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carleton College last week announced major expansions of financial aid for low-income students. MIT's plan will eliminate loans from the aid packages of families with incomes less than $75,000, reduce work-study requirements for all students on financial aid, and eliminate home equity from the aid eligibility calculations of students from families with incomes of less than $100,000. Carleton's plan will reduce the debt of students from families with incomes of up to $75,000. The lowest income students will see debt levels cut by 70 percent.
  • Another sign of loan industry woes: The Associated Press reported that Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, the administrative arm of a Texas lender called the Brazos Group, announced plans Friday to eliminate the jobs of 163 employees, or 60 percent of its workforce.
  • The blog Concurring Opinions last week ran a parody of a top secret leaked memo from U.S. News & World Report about how the law school rankings were calculated. Several of the notations certainly shouted out that this wasn't real. For example: "Stanford won the Harvard-Stanford coin flip this year." Or a pledge to move up the University of Chicago "a few spots" next year "for dumping that deadwood professor Sunstein." An update on the blog notes that Robert Morse, the rankings czar at U.S. News, reported that while he got the joke (he even blogged about it), some people apparently did not and thought the memo was the real thing. So, for the record, the memo is fake. But if anyone has any real leaks from U.S. News about top secret formulas or coin tosses, please send them here.
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