Quick Takes: Scathing Statement on Brandeis, Florida Speaker Steps Aside, New Hampshire Fathers Can't Be Forced to Pay, More Questions on RPI Spending, Graduated Against Her Will, The Bush Record
Submitted by Scott Jaschik on February 2, 2009 - 4:00am
Michael Rush, director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, has issued a full and scathing statement about the institution's plans to close the museum and sell off its art, believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Published on the Web site ArtDaily.org, the statement starts with "some basic facts," such as that staff members and those who serve on the museum's advisory aboard were "never consulted" about the plans and were informed only one hour before the university announcement. "Do not be fooled into thinking that the Rose is being closed because it is a financial drain on the university. It isn’t. While acknowledging the profound financial challenges every institution is facing, the Rose, a fundamentally self sustaining entity within Brandeis, is in relatively good financial health. The Rose is being closed due to the University’s desire to sell the cherished collection. Period," says the statement. "Art cannot be treated as a liquid asset. Seeking a solution to dire financial difficulties by selling precious art that was given (or bought) in the deepest trust between donors and the university (via the museum) is an aberration. History will record this as a desperate action that flies in the face of all intellectual and ethical standards. Brandeis is putting its intellectual capital and very credibility as an institution of higher learning on the auction block. No one wins here. Even the expected buyers of this dearly held art will be purchasing tainted goods marked with the blood of this ill begotten action." Brandeis officials did not respond to e-mail messages seeking a response to the statement.
Ray Sansom has stepped aside from his position as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives amid growing criticism and investigations over his work as a powerful legislator to push millions of dollars to a college that hired him while he was serving as speaker, The Miami Herald reported. Sansom characterized his move as temporary and predicted he would be fully vindicated. After the scandal broke, he quit the job at Northwest Florida State College, but that move failed to calm the controversy.
Divorced fathers in New Hampshire cannot be forced to pay their children's college tuition, the state's Supreme Court has ruled, The Concord Monitor reported. New Hampshire law bars such orders as part of divorce settlements. But in the case before the justices, a woman gave up alimony rights in return for her ex-husband's pledge to pay for their son's college costs. The Supreme Court said that the state's law invalidated the agreement.
Questions continue to grow about spending priorities at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where 80 layoffs have led to more scrutiny of the institute's budget. President Shirley Jackson's compensation of $1.3 million is attracting attention, as is a second home that RPI provides her (the norm for universities is one house). Now the administration is being questioned about a $1.1 million pledge to help education in Kenya, The Albany Times Union reported. The criticism isn't over the program in Kenya, but of the idea that RPI would be giving so much money away at a time it says it has no choice but to be eliminating jobs.
What's an administration to do with a critical student activist? Graduate her. Brenda Concillor, a critic of the administration at Haskell Indian Nations University, says she was graduated against her will and kicked out of a dormitory because of her outspoken views, McClatchy Newspapers reported. University officials admit that they waived a final course the student was supposed to complete but deny any retaliation.
When Southern Methodist University decided to go ahead with plans to become the site not only of President George W. Bush's presidential library, but also an affiliated policy center, some historians feared a distortion of the historical record. The Dallas Morning News reported that a recent addition to the Bush Presidential Center's Web site isn't doing anything to reassure scholars about even-handedness. To understand the "legacy" of the Bush administration, the center links to the Web site not of historians, but of the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association, where "Recent Bush Record Documents" features three choices: "The Bush Record: Praise for President's Accomplishments," "The Bush Record: More Praise for President's Accomplishments," and "The Bush Record: Praise Continues for President's Accomplishments."