Quick Takes: Bailout Plan for Massachusetts Loan Agency, Controversial President's Memory Book, Criswell President Quits, CUNY Union Opens Debate, Point-Shaving Charges, Cheerleader Rescue, Paying for Baggage, Giving Up on Spelling

August 7, 2008
  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has asked the state's pension fund to invest $50 million in a special bond sale to finance student loans that the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority has said it could not offer this year because of the shortage of funds for credit, The Boston Globe reported. The governor also plans to ask Harvard University and other colleges in the state to invest in the bonds. Several college officials told the Globe that they were willing to discuss the idea.
  • Elnora Daniel left the presidency of Chicago State University at the end of June, under fire for spending that some questioned, such as $15,000 to attend a conference on a Caribbean cruise ship where she was accompanied by five family members. The Chicago Tribune reported one more example of spending sure to be controversial: $18,000 for a taxpayer-financed glossy book featuring photographs of Daniel during her presidency. The university mailed the book to about 400 people.
  • Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College, has resigned following allegations he made that the college's board is hoping to use college assets to pay for an expansion of a Baptist church that founded the institution, The Dallas Morning News reported. The resignation was attributed to philosophical differences. Church leaders, who control Criswell's board, deny Johnson's charges.
  • The Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union at the City University of New York, is creating a forum in which some criticisms of a proposed contract will be made widely available. The union has been questioned by critics of the contract, especially adjuncts, about its reluctance to let them send e-mail messages to the membership (even with opposing sides) offering reasons to reject the contract. Barbara Bowen, president of the union, has now announced that it will create a special Web page and will let members of the Delegate Assembly (who backed the contract, 92-13) post brief explanations of why they voted the way they did. While the Web page is now likely to have more exhortations to accept the contract than to reject it, the union rank and file will have direct access to arguments on both sides of the issue.
  • A former University of Toledo basketball player, Sammy Villegas, has been charged by federal authorities with point-shaving, the Associated Press reported. Another player was involved, but does not face charges, which relate to the 2004-5 and 2005-6 seasons. A lawyer for Villegas did not respond to messages.
  • Twenty-six high school cheerleaders, gathered at the University of Texas at Austin for the Texas Cheer Camp, decided to see how many girls they could squeeze into an elevator, The Dallas Morning News reported. Apparently not satisfied with the answer provided on a sign (15 people max), they squeezed 26 in, and managed to get themselves stuck. Cell phones handy, they alerted authorities, and the police and fire departments rescued the group. While this incident ended without injuries, such cramming into elevators regularly breaks them and has also caused periodic deaths.
  • Frustrated by the new airline charges for checked bags? LeTourneau University, in Texas, has announced that new students will receive up to $15 each for such charges. Students face many pressures, said Linda Fitzhugh, vice president for enrollment services. “We thought we’d lighten the load for them by offering to help carry their bags.”
  • A British university lecturer has published an essay arguing that students are so inept at spelling that academics should just accept alternate spellings of words that are typically spelled incorrectly, The Times of London reported. "Either we go on beating ourselves and our students up over this problem, or we simply give everyone a break and accept these variant spellings as such," wrote Ken Smith of Bucks New University.
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