Quick Takes: Another Win for Affirmative Action, Joining and Leaving Movement to Change Drinking Age, Accused Iowa Prof Goes Missing, Theologian Still Unwelcome at U. of San Diego, Green Rankings, Blast at Business Lobby

August 22, 2008
  • Arizona's secretary of state, Jan Brewer, on Thursday disqualified from the state's November ballot a measure that would have barred public colleges and universities and other state agencies from considering race and ethnicity in admissions, scholarship and hiring decisions, The Arizona Republic reported. Brewer ruled that too many of the signatures on petitions to place the measure on the ballot were invalid, and that the remainder did not reach the minimum level. Supporters will now try to show that some of the rejected signatures should be permitted. But defenders of affirmative action say that may be difficult. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement Thursday night saying that signatures submitted on behalf of the measure were full of errors -- included one signature alleged to be from the late President Ford and one from the Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, with Saudi Arabia listed as his street address and Tibet as his city of residence. If the measure stays off the ballot, only two states -- Colorado and Nebraska -- will vote on abolishing affirmative action in November, down from five in which organizers originally planned to make their case.
  • The campaign by a former Middlebury College president to promote a discussion about lowering the drinking age received considerable attention this week with the release of a list of more than 100 presidents who back the idea, but plenty of the commentary has been critical. The New York Times reported that while some presidents have joined the movement this week, two have dropped out -- the presidents of Georgia Southwestern State University and Morehouse College.
  • Police searched Wednesday and Thursday for Arthur Miller, a political science professor at the University of Iowa who was recently arrested for allegedly trying to bribe students with good grades to let him grope their breasts, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. Authorities believe Miller may have a rifle with him, but they are acting on the assumption that he is not a danger to others but may be a danger to himself. On Wednesday, Miller called the Gazette and blamed his legal problems on an alleged vendetta by university officials against him, saying that he was shocked that no one at the university had asked how he was doing amid the accusations.
  • The University of San Diego is refusing to reconsider its decision to rescind an offer to a prominent feminist theologian to hold a visiting endowed chair there. The Roman Catholic university uninvited Rosemary Radford Ruether after some conservative groups questioned her commitment to church teachings. Petitions with more than 2,000 names -- including 54 faculty members -- were submitted this week to urge the university to again invite Ruether, but the institution will not change its stance, the Associated Press reported. It quoted a university spokeswoman as saying of Ruether: "Her position on the [Catholics for Choice] board is obviously very much in contrast with Roman Catholic theology and, from our perspective, did not seem appropriate for this chair."
  • The National Wildlife Federation on Thursday released its "national report card" on campus sustainability efforts, ranking both individual colleges and higher education as a whole, based on institutional survey responses. Generally, the federation noted increased interest in green issues on campuses, with many appropriate policies being adopted, but the report questioned whether colleges were adding enough material on the environment to their curriculums. Various green report cards are becoming increasingly popular. The Princeton Review, best known for naming the nation's top party schools, added green ratings to its book this year. The Sustainable Endowments Institute releases reports on how colleges apply environmental principles to endowment management. And the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is in the pilot stage of a "sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system" to be known by the acronym STARS.
  • John Wiley, weeks away from retiring as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is leaving office with a strong attack on the state's primary business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, saying that while it claims to help higher education, it regularly does the opposite. The Capital Times reported that the article, to appear in Madison Magazine, says of the lobby: "For the last 15 years of Wisconsin's declining fortunes, the candidates WMC has supported for elective office have been the very ones who, when elected, have concentrated their efforts on opposing stem cell research and domestic partner benefits, pushing a cleverly named but economically devastating 'taxpayer bill of rights,' fussing over the definition of 'marriage,' hauling universities before staged hearings to defend our efforts to prepare ethnic minority students for the workforce, railing against the personal views of otherwise obscure instructors, resisting any form of gun control, proposing mandatory arming of teachers, demanding the illegal summary firing of named state employees and proposing the elimination of the state's only public law school." He goes on to call this record "Wisconsin's equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns." Officials of the business group say that Wiley's analysis is incorrect.
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