Quick Takes: Brandeis Art Debate Continues, New School Divisions Continue, Community College Retention, Honors for A-Rod Questioned, Furloughs to Save Jobs, SUNY Makes It Official, Protests in France

February 11, 2009
  • Nearly 300 people attended a meeting at Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum Tuesday night to discuss the importance of preserving access to its noted art collection, The Boston Globe reported. Brandeis officials set off a furor last month by announcing plans to shut the museum and sell its art -- and while the university has pulled back from its position a bit, it is still pledging to stop operating a public art museum. That view was widely criticized at the forum. A new blog, Speak Clearly Rose, features video of the meeting and some of the artistic protests of the Brandeis plan, including the placement of ATMs at various sites to suggest the use of art as a source of quick funds. Meanwhile, the chair of the Rose Art Museum's board, Jonathan Lee, has outlined his views on the dispute in a two-part interview with the blog Modern Art Notes. In the interview, Lee characterizes the proposal to sell the art as an abandonment of the ideals of Louis Brandeis, for whom the university is named, and of its founders. "The Rose is a cultural and an artistic legacy of post-World War II Jewry who got over the shock of Hitler and World War II and pulled themselves up and made money and became philanthropic and culturally-inclined, so they collected art, supported the university and gave it art. It's a beautiful legacy. It has an intellectual legacy beyond the art -- and the art here is the largest modern and contemporary collection in New England. This art has been loaned from the museum to all over the world. To me this is a world-class asset. Maybe I'm not subjective, but I categorize it as a world-class asset and I say protect your world-class asset, the kernel of the wheat, not the chaff," he said. "This place is fundamental to a liberal art education. Louis Brandeis was very eloquent when he talks about this to his daughter, who was involved with the University of Louisville: One thing is you have to get books and start a library; and two you have to get art and start an art collection. He's very eloquent about what that means."
  • Faculty members at the New School continue to push for the ouster of President Bob Kerrey, The New York Times reported. Professors fault Kerrey for high turnover generally and especially in the position of provost, and say he is out of touch with academic issues. Board members continue to back Kerrey and his defenders say he has been an astute financial manager of the university.
  • Community college retention issues require more scrutiny as well as plans to improve graduation rates, according to "The Other College," a report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress. The report argues that the increasing popularity of two-year institutions makes it more necessary that educators find ways to narrow the gap in completion rates between two- and four-year institutions.
  • The timing couldn't be worse. Alex Rodriguez -- who admitted this week to steroid use as a baseball player -- is to be honored Friday by the University of Miami with the dedication of Alex Rodriguez Park, the playing field for which he donated $3.9 million. Rodriguez was recruited by the university before his professional baseball career took off and he has maintained close ties there, including serving as a member of its Board of Trustees. When his $3.9 million donation was announced by the university in 2002, the university said Rodriguez planned to enroll and earn his degree, but a spokeswoman for the university confirmed Tuesday that he had never done so. The spokeswoman said that the university was declining to comment about naming the field for him. Many others are commenting. A column in The Miami New Times has the headline: "The University of Miami Cordially Invites You to A-Roid Park." And some alumni are complaining to The New York Daily News that they fear naming the park for Rodriguez now will hurt the university's image.
  • The University of Maine System and unions that represent some university workers have reached an agreement under which more than 2,000 clerical workers and other employees (including senior administrators) will take furloughs between now and June 30 in order to prevent any layoffs during that period, The Portland Press Herald reported. Without the agreement, about 100 clerical works faced layoffs.
  • The State University of New York's board -- as rumored for more than a week -- has officially picked Nancy Zimpher as the system's next chancellor. The search has had numerous twists, dragged on for more than 18 months, and has coincided with the collapse of the state's economy. Zimpher is president of the University of Cincinnati.
  • More than 40,000 students and faculty members in France held protests Tuesday over a series of reforms and budget cuts pushed by the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Associated Press reported. The spark for the protests was a directive giving university presidents more authority to determine the time researchers spend on their research vs. time teaching. Researchers call the move an attack on their autonomy.
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