Quick Takes: Deadliest Fire Year for Students, Crash Kills 4 Bluffton Students, Colo. and Okla. Top Target List, Cancer Cluster Feared, Another N.M. Highlands Settlement, Tensions at Miss. Valley, Leading Scholar of Higher Ed Dies, Dispute at Oxford
Submitted by Scott Jaschik on March 5, 2007 - 4:00am
A fire at on off-campus house where Longwood University students and others lived killed two people early Saturday, and one of them has been identified in press reports as a Longwood student. According to Campus Firewatch, that fire brings to 18 the number of college-related fire deaths during this academic year, more than any year since 2000-1, the first year the group started monitoring such deaths, when there were 17. Last year, there were 11. According to the group, 80 percent of fire-related deaths involving colleges take place in off-campus housing.
Four students at Ohio's Bluffton University were among six people who died early Friday morning when a bus carrying the university's baseball team to a spring-break trip in Florida drove off an overpass near Atlanta and crashed onto the highway below. The bus carried 35 people altogether, and a husband-wife team of bus drivers were killed along with the four students. University officials canceled all other spring break trips and students and staff flooded to the northwest Ohio campus throughout the weekend, joining in prayers and counseling sessions at the institution, which is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. The accident provoked an outpouring of support, particularly from other Mennonite colleges.
Ward Connerly, who led the successful ballot measure campaign in November to bar the use of racial preferences in Michigan, offered a few more hints in a speech Friday about which states would be next on his list of targets. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Connerly said that his American Civil Rights Initiative would sponsor ballot initiatives in five states on election day in 2008, and that the states would be chosen by April from among a current list of nine: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nevada, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah. Connerly said the group's decision would rest on the states in which there was the strongest local support, so that it would not be "subject to the carpetbagger characterization, too much," and that it was "leaning very strongly in the direction of Colorado and Oklahoma" as two likely targets. Connerly, whose track record in taking aim at affirmative action dates to his days as a regent at the University of California and includes passage of a statewide initiative in Washington State, said he believed November's successful drive in Michigan would make future efforts "a lot easier," given that it overcame almost unanimous opposition from university and government officials, business leaders and even the clergy.
An investigation by The Patriot-News has raised questions about 40 cancer cases associated with Selinsgrove, Pa., including 18 people who attended Susquehanna University between 1990 and 2001 and who developed cancer by the age of 30. The university is seeking a meeting with state health officials about the situation, but also released information on various studies suggesting that there is no significant problem in the area.
New Mexico Highlands University has agreed to pay $205,000 to a former assistant professor of chemistry whose tenure denial prompted a censure from the American Association of University Professors, The New Mexican reported. David Wiedenfeld's tenure bid was backed by faculty panels, but was denied during a period when he and several other white educators seeking various positions said that they were being rejected because of a push to hire and promote more Latino professors. The settlement did not involve an admission of guilt by the university, which has also settled other complaints from the same period. In its review of the case, the AAUP said that it could not determine if there was ethnic prejudice, but that the university's own procedures were not followed, and that Wiedenfeld's rights were violated as a result.
Mississippi Valley State University's faculty voted no confidence last week in President Lester C. Newman, the Associated Press reported. Professors cited issues related to pay, respect for the chain of command, and a lack of courtesy. Newman announced after the vote that he would create a committee of administrators and faculty members to look for ways to work together and resolve the concerns.
Martin Trow, one of the leading scholars of higher education, died last month at 80, the University of California at Berkeley announced. Trow was a professor emeritus of public policy at Berkeley.
Student groups at the University of Oxford are pushing for the dismissal of David Coleman, a professor of demography who co-founded an anti-immigration group, The Times Higher Education Supplement reported. Defenders of Coleman are accusing the students of being on a witch hunt that endangers academic freedom.