Quick Takes: Trustees' Businesses Do Well at Suffolk U., U. of California Will Resume Israel Program, Harvard Scales Back Hiring, Christmas Wars Get Going for 2008, U.S. to Expand Help for Student Lenders, Fighting Over Scottish History

November 26, 2008
  • Robert Crowe, a Boston-based lobbyist, has a dual role at Suffolk University. The Boston Globe reported that he is a trustee who played a key role in setting up a highly generous $2.8 million compensation package for President David Sargent. And Crowe's lobbying firm receives a contract from Suffolk -- $10,000 a month -- to represent the university in Washington. Another trustee's public relations firm has a contract from Suffolk. University officials and the trustees said that there was no relationship between the trustees' votes on the president's compensation and the university's contracts. But Scott Harshbarger, a former state attorney general, told the Globe that "this is kind of thing that raises suspicion and invites further outside scrutiny."
  • The University of California announced Tuesday that it plans to re-open a systemwide study abroad program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2009, ending a suspension of programs in Israel that started in 2002. The University of California, like many universities, has a rule against operating programs in countries under State Department travel advisories. But many students who want to study in Israel have been pushing universities in recent years to conduct their own analyses, which supporters of Israel say will show it is safe for American universities to operate there. California conducted such a study, and officials said that they were confident of their ability to operate a safe program.
  • In the latest sign of the way the way falling endowment values are hurting the wealthiest universities, Harvard University's largest academic unit -- arts and sciences -- is scaling back hiring. The Boston Globe reported that a freeze has been instituted on staff positions, while department heads are being urged to call off faculty searches.
  • It's not quite Thanksgiving, but the fights over Christmas decorations have started. At Florida Gulf Coast University, some employees are objecting to a memo from President Wilson G. Bradshaw, in which he bars holiday decorations in shared public spaces, but says that individuals may decorate their own offices as they wish. The News-Press reported that a "giving tree" for needy children has been changed into a "giving garden." While the Staff Advisory Council is sending the president many complaints from employees, his memo noted that there are other views as well. "While it may appear at times that a vocal majority of opinion is the only view that is held, this is not always the case," Bradshaw wrote.
  • The mammoth new effort that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced Tuesday to free up the financial credit markets could open the door to controversial financial support for private student loan providers. Under the plan, the Federal Reserve will buy $200 billion in securities backed by different types of consumer debt, including student loans.
  • The University of Edinburgh's new research center for Scottish history is setting off both historical and political debates. The Guardian reported that the center's researchers believe too much of Scottish history is just focused on "victim" studies in which the English are responsible for all of Scotland's problems. In addition, scholars at the center are exploring the role of Scotland in the slave trade. All of this is not going over well with politicians, who contest most of the history being produced.
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