Quick Takes: Florida Ban on Travel to Cuba Overturned, Judge Reinstates Grossmont Prof, Leave for Controversial President at Thomas Nelson CC, Boston Housing Law Has Little Impact, Old Dominion Stops Search, Apostrophe Education, Cambridge Woos Soaps

September 2, 2008
  • A federal judge last week struck down a Florida law barring public university professors from using either state or private funds to travel to Cuba, The Miami Herald reported. The judge struck down only the part of the law pertaining to non-state funds, but since most professors who conduct work in Cuba do not use state funds, the ruling should permit most of that work to resume. The American Civil Liberties Union along with faculty groups challenged the travel ban.
  • A California judge has ordered Grossmont College to reinstate Timothy Cliffe, who lost his job teaching geography when the college found he had engaged in "immoral conduct," The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Cliffe was accused of offering a student a better grade if she would show him her bra. But evidence presented in the court suggested that Cliffe made a joke about the letters of bra sizes and that the student, who is from Taiwan, didn't have the best English comprehension skills. Further, evidence suggested that the student had cheated in class, and Cliffe is known for being tough on cheaters. While Cliffe denied offering a grade change for anything non-academe, he said that the joke was inappropriate.
  • Charles A. Taylor on Sunday announced that he would take a nine-month leave as president of Thomas Nelson Community College, where faculty voted no confidence in his leadership of the Virginia institution in April, The Daily Press reported. Professors complained about a lack of trust and collegiality. Taylor's announcement did not refer to the controversy, but said that he will use the time on leave to help update the strategic plan of the Virginia Community College System.
  • Students and landlords are ignoring a new Boston law barring more than four undergraduates from sharing an apartment, The Boston Globe reported. The law was seen as a way of limiting noise and disruptions in neighborhoods that attract many students, but those students are finding ways around the law -- seeking savings associated with splitting rents among more people.
  • Old Dominion University on Friday announced that it was suspending its presidential search, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Board leaders said that they had been unable to reach consensus about which of two finalists to pick, but praised the finalists. But one finalist withdrew, and faculty leaders had been calling for the search to be expanded as they didn't feel the finalists were of sufficiently high quality to merit selection.
  • Apostrophes have been causing problems for the John McCain campaign -- with many blogs jumping on a "Student's for McCain" pen being sold in the campaign store (and since corrected). In New Zealand, meanwhile, the University of Canterbury is getting grief in The New Zealand Herald for an ad campaign with the slogan: "I chose UC because of it's beautiful campus and city's reputation."
  • The University of Cambridge, with nearly 800 years of history, wants to be on soap operas. The Guardian reported that Cambridge officials, concerned about an elitist image they believe is out of date, have asked producers of leading British soap operas to add story lines that would present the university in a "student-friendly light."
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