Quick Takes: Gaza Palestinians Lose Fulbrights, Laureate-Santa Fe Linkage, Court Says Texas A

May 30, 2008
  • The U.S. State Department has told Palestinians in Gaza who won Fulbright fellowships that they will no longer receive the grants because they can't leave their homes to travel to the United States, The New York Times reported. Israel has blockaded Gaza, which is run by Hamas, saying that it cannot safely permit people to enter or leave. Educators and others have complained that the policy makes it impossible for students to get an education.
  • The board of the College of Santa Fe has authorized a partnership with Laureate Inc., a for-profit company that has been setting up a worldwide chain of colleges, until now outside the United States, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The nonprofit college has been struggling financially. Officials did not disclose details of the relationship but said that the college's programs will not change.
  • A Texas appeals court has ruled that employees of Texas A&M University may be sued in connection with a 1999 bonfire collapsed that killed 12 and injured 27, the Associated Press reported. University officials had argued that they were protected from suits by sovereign immunity, which in many cases prevents litigation against public institutions. But the appeals court found that the officials were being sued as individuals.
  • It's not unusual for college leaders to complain when faced with the prospect of sizable budget cuts. But few do it with the vehemence of James E. Rogers, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. In a memorandum distributed Thursday to regents, college employees and legislators, Rogers, known for his blunt and sometimes brash style, accuses the state's governor, Jim Gibbons, and other state leaders of potentially inflicting damage on an ailing education system with a plan to cut more than 14 percent from the university system's budget for the 2009-11 biennium, on top of a 4.5 percent cut imposed on current funds. "Balance the budget: Three words that describe the only standards by which we now judge the financial success of Nevada State Government," Rogers wrote at the start of his memo. "Beyond those three words there is nothing, nothing, and more of nothing." Rogers lays out a slew of unappealing scenarios -- all of which sure to raise the ire of various parties, who might be expected to make their anger known to politicians -- that he suggests are the only legitimate ways in which the system could achieve a cut of that magnitude, including closing institutions outright to sustain a semblance of quality in the others, ending athletics programs at the University of Nevada at Reno or the law and dental schools at Nevada-Las Vegas. Rogers warns that increased taxes -- which many politicians in Nevada are loathe to consider -- may be the only answer to avoid the "breath-taking and devastating" impacts of the suggested cuts.
  • The Education Department has released the 2008 edition of "The Condition of Education," an annual compilation of statistics from various agency studies. The trends covered in the higher education sectors are not new, but some data sets have updates -- and many educators find the compilation particularly useful for grouping data together.
  • Harvard University, with encouragement from the National Institutes of Health, will link its medical school, 18 affiliated research hospitals and other departments in the university to coordinate research efforts that in the past would have been conducted individually. As part of the shift, the NIH has awarded the medical school a $117.5 million, five-year grant -- funds for which Harvard's various units might previously have not sought together.
  • Northwestern University just moves from one controversy to another with regard to this year's commencement. Many law students are offended that Jerry Springer will be their speaker. And one of the university's planned recipients for an honorary doctorate, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was hastily uninvited after he became famous as Sen. Barack Obama's ex-pastor. As these incidents were debated, the university hinted that graduates would get a big name as the main speaker. Now that the name is out -- Chicago Mayor Richard Daley -- many students are unimpressed, and some are complaining. The Chicago Tribune reported that one student e-mailed the university's president and received a testy response. The student, Matthew Braslow, wrote: "If your goal in the speaker selection process was to make graduating seniors happy about leaving this university, then mission accomplished." President Henry Bienen replied: ""Matthew, grow up.... You also sound like a very unhappy person. I am sorry for that. Hopefully things will improve for you over the years."
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