Quick Takes: Educators Donate Big to Obama, Obama-Biden Earmark Link, Race and Harvard's Police, Flaws in Peer Review, Legal Win for Berkeley, Stanford Limits Pharma Support, 'Stools for Schools' in Akron, Bush Announces Science Prizes

August 27, 2008
  • Professors and other educators continue to be among the top donors to Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of summer fund raising by Obama found that education as an industry was behind only the legal industry in contributing to the Democrat's campaign. Further, a list of the 25 employers whose employees gave the most to Obama included 9 universities. They are (in order): University of California, Harvard University, Columbia University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, University of Chicago, University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania.
  • The Washington Posthas discovered a higher ed earmark that links Sen. Barack Obama with a Biden lobbying effort, but not the Biden who will be the vice presidential nominee. The Post reported that Hunter Biden, a lobbyist who is the son of Sen. Joe Biden, worked to get Obama to seek $192,000 for Saint Xavier University.
  • Harvard University is creating an independent panel to study the diversity training, community outreach and recruiting efforts of the institution's police force, which has been accused by many black students and professors of engaging in racial profiling, The Boston Globe reported. In one recent dispute, two officers have been placed on leave in connection with their confrontation with a black high school using tools to cut a lock from a locked bicycle on campus. The student was working on the campus, owned the bike and had lost the key to the lock.
  • The top problem with peer review of scientific research? Incompetence, according to a survey of scientists at a federal research agency and published in the September issue of Science and Engineering Ethics. Sixty-two percent reported encountering incompetence in the process. Other problems included: bias (reported by 51 percent), being required to include unnecessary references to the peer reviewers' publications (23 percent), and personal attacks in reviewer comments (18 percent).
  • A judge on Tuesday lifted an injunction that (barring an appeal) was the last legal obstacle to the University of California at Berkeley starting construction on a new athletic facility, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Berkeley has been in various legal disputes over the project for 20 months -- with protesters staging a sit-in in trees for much of the time.
  • Stanford University announced Tuesday that its medical school will no longer accept funding from pharmaceutical companies or device manufacturers to support continuing medical education. The policy builds on an earlier ban of gifts, including free meals, from industry representatives. Stanford is among the universities that have been criticized for not doing enough to prevent possible conflicts of interest by medical researchers.
  • Akron officials are considering a plan, informally dubbed "stools for schools," under which the city would lease its sewage system to a private contractor for up to $200 million, which would be used for scholarships for graduates of the city's high schools, the Associated Press reported.
  • President Bush this week named the 2007 winners of the the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The science medal will go to: Fay Ajzenberg-Selove of the University of Pennsylvania, Mostafa A. El-Sayed of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Leonard Kleinrock of the University of California at Los Angeles, Robert J. Lefkowitz of Duke University, Bert W. O'Malley of the Baylor College of Medicine, Charles P. Slichter of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Andrew J. Viterbi of the University of Southern California, and David J. Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The professors who will receive the technology medal are Adam Heller of the University of Texas at Austin and Carlton Grant Willson of the University of Texas at Austin.
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