Quick Takes: Temporary U.S. Postsecondary Chief, Layoffs at Charles Drew, Gaza Protests in US and UK

February 9, 2009
  • U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has appointed a well-respected, longtime career employee in the Education Department as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education. Daniel Madzelan, who heads the Office of Postsecondary Education's policy analysis staff and has worked at the department in various capacities since 1978, works closely with college groups on student aid issues and is particularly familiar to them because he has been the lead federal negotiator in multiple rounds of rule making deliberations. Madzelan will provide an experienced hand to oversee the negotiations that are to begin in the coming weeks to craft rules to carry out the Higher Education Opportunity Act, and joins Robert Shireman, who is serving temporarily as an adviser to Duncan, as knowledgeable aides in the short term as he builds a more permanent team of political appointees on higher education issues.
  • The Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, a Los Angeles institution that primarily educates minority health sciences students, is laying off 10 percent of its employees (including some in faculty jobs) and cutting the salaries of many of those who remain, the Los Angeles Times reported. Everyone earning more than $42,000 will have their salary cut by 5 percent and executives will have salaries cut by 10 percent. The university cited declines in the value of its endowment and in support from donors and government sources.
  • Campus protests of Israel's military actions in Gaza, are growing -- including in the United States. Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Rochester is claiming victory in the first "occupation" of a building at an American campus over the issue (although university officials say that the students signed up for permission to protest in a building Friday until midnight and so were there with authorization). The university and the SDS also have different versions of what both sides agreed to in order to end the protest late Friday. The SDS started its protest demanding that the university sell endowment holdings in companies that produce weapons or otherwise "profit from war"; that the university organize a day of fund raising for Gaza; that the university provide "necessary academic aid" such as computers and books to university programs in Gaza; and that a minimum of five scholarships be set up for Palestinian students. A blog by an SDS member involved in the protest says that Rochester committed to donate surplus goods to students in Gaza, to help create a Palestinian fund drive, to look for ways to provide scholarships to students from Gaza, and to "help organize a forum to expose or make transparent the investments of the university towards Israel." University officials said that they had agreed to the following: helping the SDS find ways to donate goods to students in Gaza, helping the SDS find ways to raise money for Gaza, working to identify schools in Gaza where students might apply to attend the university, and organizing a forum to explain to students how the university makes its investments. Rochester officials stressed that they would help any student group trying to provide assistance for groups that could benefit, and that there are currently scholarships for foreign students available, but that the university doesn't receive many applications from Palestinians. At the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, 40 students occupying a building agreed to leave, and claimed that the university had agreed to honor a boycott of Israel by canceling a contract with an Israeli water company. A university statement said that it was indeed canceling the contract, but that Strathclyde had already committed to stopping the purchase of bottled water on a large scale (for sustainability reasons) and that this made it appropriate to end the relationship with the Israeli company. The university also pledged to set up some scholarships for Palestinian students.
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