Quick Takes: Maricopa Moves to Fire Prof, Waiting Lists in Use, Compromise Sought on Loyalty Oath, Women in Science, Leaders for California CC System and UNC, Newberry Drops Indian Name, Israel Boycott Movement in UK, New Universities in Canada

May 9, 2008
  • The Maricopa Community College District is starting the process of firing Michael Todd, a psychology professor at Paradise Valley Community College, in whose home was found a female student in a coma, who subsequently died from an apparent drug overdose, The East Valley Tribune reported. The professor -- who has not responded to press inquiries about what happened -- is being accused of having an inappropriate "amorous" relationship with the student. The newspaper also reported that the same professor had been investigated for alleged sexual harassment in 2002, although college officials said that there was not enough evidence to make a definitive conclusion about the charges.
  • After all the hype that it would be impossible to get into top colleges this year, some of them are actually using their waiting lists, The New York Times reported. With many colleges changing their aid policies, admissions deans have been more uncertain about yields this year, and as a result, Harvard University and others are planning to use their waiting lists to extend admissions offers. Those admitted may now turn down other institutions, creating a ripple effect. While these admissions decisions will no doubt receive considerable attention -- given the institutions involved -- they will affect an incredibly small percentage of those going to college this fall.
  • An instructor who lost her chance to teach at California State University at Fullerton because she refused to sign a required state loyalty oath is proposing a compromise, the Los Angeles Times reported. With help from the group People for the American Way, the instructor is now willing to sign an oath that also allows her to state her unwillingness -- based on her Quaker beliefs -- to take up arms. With People for the American Way threatening to sue, Cal State officials are willing to talk, but the job the instructor lost has already been filled.
  • A House of Representatives subcommittee discussed draft legislation Thursday designed to increase the flow of women into academic science and engineering. Witnesses from government and academe, testifying before the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science, generally supported the legislation's aims of spurring federal agencies and universities to produce better data about the outcomes of federal grant making by gender, provide more financial support for parents and other caregivers, and sponsor workshops for academic administrators and others to "increase awareness" about gender bias in promotion, hiring and the awarding of academic honors.
  • The California Community College System has its new leader and, unlike elsewhere, board members didn’t have to choose between someone with legislative connections or a background in academe – they got both. State Senator Jack Scott, chair of the Senate Committee on Education and a lawmaker since 1997, previously served as president of Cypress and Pasadena City Colleges, and as a professor and dean elsewhere. He takes over in January after completing his legislative term – where, as chair of a subcommittee that controls the education budget, he’ll be confronting the multi-billion dollar budget shortfall that community colleges have reason to fear. In January, the governor proposed $525 million in reductions for the 109-college system.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's next chancellor will be H. Holden Thorp, an alumnus who is currently a chemistry professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences there. Thorp will succeed James Moeser, who is credited with significant fund raising success while also overseeing the launch of aid programs, since copied at other flagship universities, to attract more talented, low-income students.
  • Newberry College, in South Carolina, has agreed to drop the "Indians" name for its athletic teams, agreeing to comply with a National Collegiate Athletic Association rule that the college continues to protest. The college will operate without a nickname while considering possible replacements.
  • Britain's faculty union, which in recent years has spent considerable time debating highly controversial plans to boycott Israeli academics and universities, may be returning to the issue in a slightly different way. The Guardian reported that the union is considering a proposal under which members would be encouraged to consider the "moral and political implications" of work involving Israelis. Critics of the move say that it is a boycott in another form and ignores the dangers posed to academic freedom of assuming that any group of academics or universities are alike because of their nationality.
  • British Columbia's government has upgraded five colleges to universities in recent weeks -- winning praise from the institutions being elevated but leading others to question whether the university designation has been devalued, Maclean's reported.
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