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Quick Takes: 'Special Admits' for Football, College GOP Official's Obama Post, William

September 8, 2008
  • Many universities fill the spots on their football squads through the use of "special admits," a phrase that means that these students didn't meet regular admissions requirements, according to an article and survey in The Indianapolis Star. While most colleges have provisions for special admits, which in theory are for truly special applicants, very few non-athletes benefit. For example, the Star noted that 76 percent of the freshman football class at Indiana University at Bloomington is made up of special admits. Among all freshmen last year, only 2 percent are special admits. Some universities rely even more on special admits for football, the survey found: the University of California at Berkeley (95 percent of freshmen football players, compared to 2 percent for the student body), Texas A&M University (94 percent vs. 8 percent), the University of Oklahoma (81 percent vs. 2 percent). While some universities didn't report any special admits, the Star article quoted athletics officials who are dubious of these claims. Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, told the newspaper he was surprised by the extent of special admits, but said the issue was whether universities provide appropriate help for these students to succeed academically.
  • Adam LaDuca, a Kutztown University student, quit his position as executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans last week following criticism of comments he made on his Facebook page about Sen. Barack Obama's lips, The Allentown Morning Call reported. LaDuca wrote that Obama has "a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami," and later followed that up with a posting that said that "if sayin' someone has large lips is a racial slur, then we're ALL in trouble." LaDuca told the Morning Call that he is not a racist, citing his admiration for Thomas Sowell, a conservative black economist, as evidence. "I have eight of his books and I think he's brilliant and he's a black man,'' LaDuca said. ''If I were racist, would I be reading this stuff?"
  • The board of the College of William & Mary on Friday opted to skip a full presidential search and to name W. Taylor Reveley III as president. Reveley, a former law dean, has been serving as interim president since February, when Gene R. Nichol resigned immediately after being informed that his contract would not be renewed. Nichol had been popular with students and many professors, but his removal of a cross from a historic building on a campus (even though the cross wasn't part of the original building) set off an alumni furor. Reveley has won praise from many at William & Mary for calming the campus, and for keeping the college running smoothly amid the abrupt transition, and the economic downturn that increased pressure on all colleges. Board leaders cited the need for stability in removing "interim" from Reveley's title and skipping the search they had earlier said would be starting. Despite the generally high regard for Reveley on the campus, The Flat Hat, the student newspaper, criticized Friday's decision. An editorial noted that both Reveley and board leaders had said his interim appointment would be followed by a search. "Our concerns do not lie in Reveley’s performance. We are instead unhappy with the search process -- or lack thereof. Not nearly enough time has passed to properly assess whether Reveley is the best long-term candidate for the job, and failing to launch a search robs the school of an opportunity to find its best possible leader," the editorial said.
  • The National Academies on Friday released updated guidelines for research on human embryonic stem cells. The latest version takes into consideration newly derived stem cells, produced in methods not discussed by previous guidelines. The revisions also provide for expedited review by ethics panels of research done exclusively in a laboratory dish or test tube. The guidelines are voluntary, but have been adopted by many universities. Because the Bush administration has barred the use of federal funds to support most such research, federal ethics rules are less complete than they are for many other kinds of research, and that situation prompted the academies to first issue and then update the guidelines.
  • Oklahoma State University is trying to figure out why Azfar Hussain, who has a doctorate in English and is fluent in six languages, is being delayed in obtaining a visa from the United States to come from Bangladesh to take up a teaching post, The Tulsa World reported. Hussain has written critically of U.S. foreign policy.
  • The lax enforcement of policies, not inadequate policies, allowed several contracts to be signed by the University of Vermont without required authorization of the president or the board, an audit has found, The Burlington Free Press reported. Several of the contracts related to services used to start using a new PeopleSoft administrative software system that resulted in significant cost overruns, the audit said.
  • The head of Shin Beit, Israel's security agency, is calling the rector of Hebrew University "patronizing and dismissive" for refusing to approve a degree program that would allow Shin Beit agents to earn a bachelor's degree in 16 months, Haaretz reported. Others are backing the rector, and saying that he is standing up for academic independence and quality.
  • The University of Idaho has ordered that a uniform design change used in the football team's season opener be undone. The Vandals' uniforms featured their logos on their derrières, and many fans didn't appreciate the location, The Idaho Statesman reported. Rob Spear, the athletic director, said, "I was disappointed with the look and the appearance. We didn't realize how noticeable it would be until it was on our players." While no causal relationship was established, the first game (and now only game) with the controversial design was not a success. Idaho lost to the University of Arizona, 70-0.
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