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Higher Education Quick Takes
Robert Felner, a former dean of education at the University of Louisville, was sentenced Monday to 63 months in prison for defrauding the university and the University of Rhode Island, where he had worked previously, of $2.3 million and for tax evasion, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. In a plea agreement in January, Felner pleaded guilty to nine federal charges. Many professors complained that the university for years ignored complaints over Felner, who was highly successful at attracting grants and attention to the education school before the investigations of his conduct started.
A Canadian government effort to better finance leading scientists has attracted four leading British scientists to accept positions in Canada, setting off fears of a brain drain in Britain, The Guardian reported. The University of Alberta lured two of the scientists -- one from Durham University and one from the University of Oxford.
Nylink, a library cooperative program that is part of the State University of New York, but that also serves libraries in the City University of New York and those at private colleges, is folding. “Unfortunately, the revenue just isn’t there any longer, and we have no choice but to wind down operations,” said a statement from W. David Penniman, executive director of Nylink. “We are working with our staff, vendors and members to ensure a smooth transition over the next 12 months.”
A Texas grand jury has indicted four former Texas Lutheran University football players for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in an alleged attack on a football player from the University of the Incarnate Word -- at a party in the fall not long after Incarnate Word defeated Texas Lutheran at football, The Gazette-Enterprise reported. The local district attorney describe the deadly weapons involved: “A deadly weapon is anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. In this particular case, we alleged the hands and feet of the perpetrators as deadly weapons due to the brutal way in which they were used in this particular assault,” she said. “When deciding to allege that the hands and feet were utilized as deadly weapons, we look at all the circumstances, including the number of assailants, the injuries inflicted, the area of the body the injuries are located and the helplessness of the victim.”
Jewish leaders are criticizing the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for failing to respond adequately to incidents that took place during an April 29 celebration of the anniversary of Israel's independence. During the event, a person protesting the event was arrested for assaulting one of the organizers. Also, pro-Palestinian students chalked the area where the event was to take place with anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian statements. According to the Jewish organizations, the chalkings also included a swastika. "The events -- including the image of the swastika -- were reported in the media. Jewish students on campus expressed fears for their safety; some said they no longer felt safe and welcome on the UWM campus, cited other anti-Semitic incidents and, sadly, spoke of giving up the display of their religious symbols on campus," said the statement from Jewish leaders in Milwaukee. They went on to say that "a strong statement" condemning the actions taken against the pro-Israel group had not been made by the university.
On Monday, Carlos E. Santiago, the chancellor at Milwaukee, did release a statement. (A spokesman said that he had held off in hope of being able to issue a joint statement with the Jewish leaders, but respected their right to release their own statement.) In Santiago's statement, he said that he wanted to "reaffirm the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a place for the free exchange of ideas and perspectives. Such exchanges, however, should be made in a civil, peaceful and constructive manner. UWM does not tolerate violence as an expression of any viewpoint." He said that he would encourage the creation of "programs that will enhance our campus community's commitment to a culture of safety, civility and respect in the exchange of ideas and opinions."
However, Santiago declined to condemn the chalkings -- in part because he said a swastika was never verified as part of that protest. He said that after officials learned of the chalkings, administrators went to the area. "At the time of the inspection, no members of the administrative team saw any evidence of a swastika. The messages that were seen represented protected political speech, and, therefore, were left undisturbed. I want to emphasize that chalking on university property that crosses the line of free speech to create an atmosphere of harassment for students of any race, religion, nationality or other protected status will not be tolerated."
An adjunct who was fired from his job at Northwest Arkansas Community College is getting his position back, the Associated Press reported. Terry Phillips lost his job after he made critical comments to a newspaper about a local judge who had been arrested. Phillips said he was "appalled" that the judge had not resigned. The judge's wife is a member of the college's board, the AP said. However, the adjunct is now being rehired.
TIAA-CREF is about to announce a major expansion into the endowment management business and has been recruiting money managers from colleges and universities as it prepares to launch, Bloomberg reported. Goldman Sachs is also planning an expanded focus on the market -- and these companies' interest comes at a time of considerable movement about endowment managers at colleges, the article said.
The Alliance Defense Fund -- a group that promotes the rights of religious students, among others -- on Friday issued a press release saying that it had secured for students at Mohave Community College the right to have prayers at the nursing students' graduation ceremony. The fund announced that prayers, which have been common in the ceremony, had been eliminated and were being restored because of the fund's action. In an interview, however, Michael Kearns, the president, said that the college had never banned prayer at the ceremony. He said that a university committee had designed a template for graduation ceremonies, and that the benedictions were designated (as they have been in the past) as optional, with student organizers given the right to invite someone to offer prayers. He said that the fund apparently saw that prayer was not listed as a mandatory part of the template, and took that to mean prayer was being banned. He said that for the fund to claim credit for restoring prayer to the ceremony was like claiming credit "for the sun coming up tomorrow morning."
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, unveiled his latest proposed budget for 2010-11 on Friday and it doesn't propose cuts (and actually includes restoration of funds) for the state's three higher education systems. The news led to praise from leaders of the systems, but it is unclear whether the budget will survive. The governor's proposals may reflect a growing consensus in the state that cuts to higher education have been debilitating. However, the governor's budget plan includes such measures as the complete elimination of the state's major welfare program and of the main program to provide state subsidized child care -- and many legislators are vowing to save these and other programs.