Quick Takes: Secret Tobacco Contract at Virginia Commonwealth, $100M Gift for Chairs at Okla. State, Judge Approves Sale of Myers U., Smith Drops SAT, When a Morehouse Man Is Gay, Technology Layoffs, Theory on Student Drownings, Furor Over IQ

May 22, 2008
  • Virginia Commonwealth University has a secret contract with Philip Morris USA under which the university agreed to unusually restrictive terms, The New York Times reported. Among other conditions, the Times reported, professors are barred from publishing research supported by the company or even talking about the research, without the permission of Philip Morris. If reporters ask questions, the university must decline comment and report the inquiry to the company. Philip Morris gets almost all patent and intellectual property rights. Most professors and students don't know about the contract, a copy of which was obtained by the newspaper. According to the Times, the university's vice president for research admitted that the terms of the contract violated the university's guidelines for business-sponsored research, but said that Virginia Commonwealth officials still thought the deal was one "we could agree to."
  • T. Boone Pickens on Wednesday announced a $100 million gift to Oklahoma State University for endowed professorships. The gift, which will be matched by state funds, is expected to double the number of endowed chairs at the university. Pickens, an alumnus and major donor, has previously focused much of his Oklahoma State philanthropy on athletics.
  • An Ohio judge has approved the sale of Myers University, a career-oriented institution that serves mostly low-income and minority students in Cleveland, to an investor with a history of buying, transforming and turning around struggling colleges. Judge Daniel Gaul approved the sale of the college to Significant Partners, Inc., which previously invested in Arizona's Grand Canyon University, after a plan to sell the college to Palm Ventures reportedly collapsed.
  • Smith College has become the latest liberal arts college to announce that it will no longer require the SAT for admission. Officials cited evidence that there is a high correlation between SAT scores and family income and race, while other measures -- such as high school grades -- are better at predicting college success.
  • A student at Morehouse College has organized a series of discussions and events to promote a more tolerant attitude toward gay people. A profile in the Los Angeles Times discussed the less than tolerant history of Morehouse, a historically black college for men, and attitudes that are still openly expressed there. While there is now a small gay student group and open discussion of issues of sexual orientation, students at a recent forum expressed fears about how gay men could hurt the image of the college.
  • The University of Washington announced the layoffs of 66 employees in its technology division, The Seattle Times reported. Officials cited the availability of free or low-cost services through companies such as Google to explain why fewer employees are needed.
  • Two retired New York City police detectives are investigating a series of unexplained drownings of male college students -- in New York State, Minnesota and elsewhere -- with the theory that the men may have been victims of a serial killer who left bizarre smiley faces near where some of the bodies were pulled out of the water, CNN reported.
  • An evolutionary psychiatrists at Newcastle University has set off a debate in Britain with a paper in which he argues that the scarcity of low-income students at top universities is not a result of admissions bias, but because such students have a lower IQ, The Guardian reported. Student and faculty groups are denouncing the paper.
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