Some University of California graduate students have turned to satire, dressing in business attire to critique the policies of administrators and the Board of Regents, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The group is called the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization. Its Web site features some of its recent activities, such as a training session for students on "how to cross picket lines without thinking twice about the ethical, political, or moral consequences of their actions." And of course because everyone still talks about the Mark Yudof interview with The New York Times in which he quipped that he doesn't have Air Force One, the students have the answer: a fund-raising campaign to "Help Buy Mark Yudof a Plane."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Historians -- some with ties to the Kennedy family and some who have studied the family -- have created a Web site to denounce the History Channel for a forthcoming mini-series that they say is full of distortions. The site features a petition that says: "The script for the upcoming 'The Kennedys' miniseries on The History Channel is right-wing character assassination, not 'history.' Until The History Channel stops running politically motivated fiction as historical 'fact,' I will refuse to watch their programming." Steve Kronish, the primary writer for "The Kennedys" and a co-executive producer of "24," told The Huffington Post that the script that led the historians to organize was still evolving. "My feeling is, if you want to take the position that we are doing a hatchet job on the Kennedys why don't you wait until we show it," Kronish said. "Then you can decide if we have been salacious or unfair... that is the time to make the criticism. Not when we are in the very beginning stages of this project."
Faculty members at the University of Alberta agreed to accept six furlough days in return for more access to information about university finances, The Edmonton Journal reported. Under the agreement, a new committee -- with equal representation of administrators and professors -- will review finances (including data previously unavailable to faculty members). Walter Dixon, president of the faculty association, told the Journal that the arrangement was "not a matter of having any sort of veto power,” but about the “ability to report on those activities and comment on them publicly. If we think it’s the wrong decision, we can actually say so before that decision is made so that there may be some sober second thought.”
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday accused a former researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo of attempting to defraud the state by allegedly deceiving investigators in a misconduct case against him several years ago. According to the broad series of felony charges that Cuomo's office laid out against William Fals-Stewart, the researcher was accused in 2004 of scientific misconduct for falsifying data in federally funded studies. He was cleared during that inquiry, and promptly sued the state and SUNY for $4 million in damages, according to Cuomo's account. But in the process of defending itself against Fals-Stewart's accusations, Cuomo alleged, the attorney general's office found evidence that Fals-Stewart had arranged for actors to pose as three witnesses, providing false testimony, during the investigation into his misconduct. The researcher allegedly told the actors that they were participating in a mock trial training exercise. Fals-Stewart, who worked at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions, was charged with attempted grand larceny, perjury and identity theft, among other things. He could not be reached for comment.
Baylor University on Monday named Kenneth Starr as its next president. Starr is best known for the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Clinton. But for the past six years, Starr has been an academic administrator, as dean of the law school at Pepperdine University. The Waco Tribune reported that Starr, who was raised in the Church of Christ (his father was a minister), has said that he will join a Baptist church once he moves to Baylor. An online forum in the Tribune featured widely varied reactions to the selection. The Lariat, Baylor's student newspaper, endorsed the pick. "This Vernon, Texas-native is an unusual selection because of what he is most widely known for -- his work in the Bill Clinton impeachment case and because he comes from a Church of Christ background, but unconventional does not equate amiss. These hesitations have not tarnished his impeccable reputation; rather, everyone who spoke to the Lariat had immensely positive things to say about him," the editorial said.
An associate professor at Bowling Green State University has been suspended for making verbal threats to colleagues, the Associated Press reported. The suspension took place before Friday's murders at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. The professor who was suspended has been charged by police with aggravated menacing and inducing panic.
A student organization will file a suit today in federal court, challenging California's ban on affirmative action by public colleges and universities, and other state agencies, the Los Angeles Times reported. The suit will charge that the ban violates equal protection rights of the black and Latino students who might otherwise be admitted to the university system. Challenges to the right of states to ban affirmative action have been rejected by courts in the past, allowing the bans to stand in the states where voters have approved them. The group filing the suit is the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.
To settle a lawsuit filed by the student newspaper, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has agreed to release documents and recordings from a student governance panel and to pay the publication's legal costs. The UWM Post, which filed the suit, reported on the settlement Monday. The university had sought to shield from public view records related to meetings of the Union Policy Board, which allocates student fees. Milwaukee administrators had argued that because the board was made up largely of students, it had a right to redact information related to the student members under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Per its name, that law is designed to protect students' educational records.
Some faculty members are objecting to a plan at Purdue University to reduce contributions to retirement accounts, The Journal and Courier reported. University officials say that the savings will allow for other important spending -- on faculty salaries, for example. But some professors say that they haven't had enough input and that alternatives should be considered.
Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina System, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the year, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Bowles took office in 2006 and has pushed for better long-term planning and closer ties to elementary and secondary education. He has also helped the system deal with several controversies at various campuses, including a recent one over payments to administrators transitioning back to the faculty. The system recently imposed new limits on the practice.