Princeton University is facing demands for increased payments to Princeton, N.J., Bloomberg reported. Princeton provided $10 million last year, more than many other private colleges provide their localities, but local residents -- aware of the university's wealth in comparison to most of American higher education -- want more. Peter Kann, co-chair of Princeton Future, a civic organization, said: "The town budget is strapped and schools are looking at laying off teachers.... Then there is this enormously rich university. They give the appearance of being wonderful donors to the town, but compared with what they would be giving if they were paying property taxes it’s really trifling.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
The results are in for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for 2010. The annual award -- from the English department at San Jose State University -- honors the worst opening sentences for imaginary novels. This year's winner is from Molly Ringle of Seattle: "For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss -- a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil." The contest Web page features details on the winner and various runners-up and dishonorable mentions.
A final legislative budget deal for North Carolina minimized cuts to higher education, and also gave both the community college and university systems flexibility on where to make those cuts, the Associated Press reported. Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina, issued a statement in which he said: "Legislators really stood up for our university and our 225,000 students in these hard times when money is scarce. On a relative basis and particularly considering the economic climate, the 2010-11 state budget we received from the General Assembly was nothing short of remarkable. We knew there were going to be significant cuts in every part of state government, and the university took its fair share. But the legislature really worked hard to help us protect the quality of education we can deliver to our students."
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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U.S. Sen. Robert W. Byrd, whose nearly 60 years representing West Virginia made him Congress's longest-serving member and brought his state (and its colleges) untold millions in earmarked projects, died Monday at the age of 92. Byrd was never a central player in federal higher education policy making (apart from having a scholarship program named for him), but he was a kingmaker in the appropriations process, and a vocal defender of the use of lawmaker-directed earmarks (often derided as "pork barrel spending"). West Virginia's colleges are dotted with buildings bearing his name.
Susan Desmond-Hellmann is selling her tobacco stock. Desmond-Hellmann is the new chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, a medical institution that is home to researchers who have been leading critics of the tobacco industry. The New York Times reported that her disclosure forms for her new position indicated that she had personal stock holdings of between $100,000 and $1 million in Altria, the owner of Philip Morris. A day after the Times asked about the issue, she announced that she would sell the holdings. “I’d been focused on compliance, dutifully writing down every stock,” she told the Times, “and we didn’t focus on what are the stocks in our holdings and what message does that give to people who care about your values.”
The New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct organization, has become the latest to condemn a series of actions at East-West University that have postponed a union organizing drive for adjuncts. With a union affiliated with the National Education Association calling for an election, the university notified all adjuncts that they weren't employees this summer, effectively making it impossible for them to vote in an election. The university says this move was just to clarify expectations. The New Faculty Majority statement says: "The university’s claims that its decisions are based on factors unrelated to the union drive are disingenuous at best and a clear pretext for union-busting at worst."
A research experiment apparently gone awry caused a 2,000-lb. hydrogen tank to explode in a chemistry building at the University of Missouri at Columbia, injuring four, none critically, The Kansas City Star reported. Officials suspected that the explosion was caused by a spontaneous combustion of gases, including hydrogen and nitrogen.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in the current lawsuit over gender equity in athletics at Quinnipiac University, suggesting skepticism of the university's claim that "competitive cheer" should be counted as a sport -- which would help the university argue that it is meeting its obligations to female athletes under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The brief does not rule out the possibility that the activity could be a sport, but suggests close examination of whether the squad and its competitions are treated in ways comparable to other sports.
President Obama announced Sunday that the United States and Indonesia would spend $160 million on programs to encourage educational exchanges and joint programs between the two countries. An essay in Inside Higher Ed by Cameron H. Hume, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, called for American colleges to expand ties to Indonsian students and institutions.