Monthly Archives: August 2013


Appeals Court Overturns Part of $1.28-Million Verdict Against Iowa State U.

The Iowa Court of Appeals has thrown out part of a $1.28-million verdict in a case brought against Iowa State University by a former employee, after finding that the employee was the victim of harassment by his superiors but ruling that he had failed to prove his claim of retaliation under the state’s whistle-blower law, according to the Des Moines Register.

Dennis L. Smith, a former marketing employee in the university’s College of Engineering, asserted that the university had inflicted emoti…


City College of San Francisco Asks Accreditor to Reverse Its Punishment

The City College of San Francisco on Tuesday asked the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to reverse its decision to revoke the college’s accreditation next year. But the college did so without citing the mistakes that the U.S. Department of Education found the commission had made in its evaluation of the college, a choice that upset some faculty members and others. Last week the department put the commission itself on the defensive, when it warned the commission that it could face sanctions if it does not correct problems that the department said put it out of compliance with certain federal regulations. The department’s warning was a response to a complaint filed by the California Federation of Teachers, which accused the commission of violating the law and being biased by conflicts of interest when it decided to punish the college.

“I believe that if the college changes direction and begins to attack the commission, rather than working with it to correct the problems in the institution, it will jeopardize our ability to maintain accreditation,” Robert Agrella, the state-appointed “special trustee” who has run the college since early July when state officials suspended its Board of Trustees, said in an e-mail to employees posted on the college website.

Agrella told the employees that the federal findings resulted from complaints by the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, not the college, which has long urged the faculty union not to shoot the umpire.

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U. of Michigan Faculty Group Questions Handling of Alice Walker Invitation

A faculty committee at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has approved a resolution expressing concern over the institution’s handling of an invitation for the novelist Alice Walker to speak on the campus. The university’s Center for the Education of Women last week rescinded its invitation to Ms. Walker, whom it had invited to speak at an event celebrating its 50th anniversary. Ms. Walker said that her invitation had been withdrawn because donors had objected to her views on Israel. The university denied that and said the invitation had been rescinded because Ms. Walker was not the right fit for the “celebratory nature” of the event. Ms. Walker was then reinvited to speak on the campus.

During a meeting Monday, the Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs unanimously approved the following statement:

“SACUA expresses concern about the potential damage done to the reputation of the University of Michigan and its faculty by the appearance of insensitivity to principles of academic freedom stemming from the disinvitation of Alice Walker as speaker for the CEW.”

Karen Staller, a U-M social work professor who chairs the committee, declined to elaborate on the resolution via email.

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Court Reduces Damages in Case Against U. of Central Florida Athletic Association

A Florida appeals court has reduced to $200,000 an award of damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the University of Central Florida’s Athletic Association, down from $10-million. The family of a football player, Ereck Plancher, sued after he died following conditioning drills, in 2008. Two years ago, a judge upheld a jury’s award of $10-million to the player’s parents, but an appeals court last week reduced the award to $200,000. The court denied the association a new trial, which it had been seeking.

A three-judge panel rejected UCF’s arguments it was denied a fair trial based on limited presentation time and ruled that a medical release form Ereck Plancher signed did not expressly waive his rights to sue UCFAA.

It did rule UCF’s power of control over its athletics association is sufficient for sovereign immunity afforded to state agencies in civil judgments, reducing the original award the 19-year-old’s parents received in July 2011. Any award above $200,000 now has to be approved by the legislature.

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Beloit College Mind-Set List Greets the ‘Sharing Generation’

Beloit College on Tuesday released the latest edition of its annual “mind-set list,” which tries to help professors understand the incoming class of college freshmen by explaining the cultural phenomena that have shaped those students’ views of the world.

Following is a selection of highlights from this year’s list. For this generation of entering students, most of whom were born in 1995:

  • Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.
  • They are the sharing generation, having…

After Rescinding Its Invitation, U. of Michigan Offers Alice Walker a New One

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has extended a new invitation for the author Alice Walker to speak on campus, after its Center for the Education of Women last week withdrew an offer for her to speak at an event to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Ms. Walker said that she had been disinvited because donors objected to her criticism of Israel. But  in a message apologizing for the center’s handling of Ms. Walker’s invitation, Gloria D. Thomas, the director said donors did not influence th…


Westfield State’s Leader Faces Scrutiny Over Spending

Evan S. Dobelle, president of Westfield State University, in Westfield, Mass., is facing scrutiny over his spending, including $8,000 for a four-night stay at a hotel in Bangkok and more than $800 at an upscale clothing store, according to The Boston Globe. By the time Westfield State’s foundation closed his credit card, he had run up more than $200,000 in charges to the foundation, which had given him the card to cover small expenses related to fund raising. He continued spending, however, charging thousands to his executive assistant’s university credit card, according to the newspaper.

Mr. Dobelle said he had helped make Westfield State “the hottest college in New England,” and said some people were fixating on small mistakes. He had also faced questions over his spending in his previous post, during a controversial tenure as president of the University of Hawaii system.

“I’m a change agent. You know you’re going to take a hit,” said Dobelle, who is paid $240,920 to oversee the 5,400-student university about 10 miles west of Springfield.

He said that there are explanations for all the bills, including the stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, where he was leading a mission to boost Westfield State’s international stature. He said the Far East tour, which ran up $145,000 in bills for the 10-person delegation, yielded connections that have helped Westfield attract a small number of Asian students and sent Westfield students to study in Asia.

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Penn State Reaches 1st Settlement With a Victim in Sandusky Scandal

Pennsylvania State University has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with a 25-year-old man who was sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky in a campus shower, a lawyer for the university and one representing the victim told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Neither lawyer would specify the amount of the settlement with the man, who was known as Victim 5 during Mr. Sandusky’s trial last year, but they described the agreement over his claim as key in negotiations to settle some 25 other claims. Agreements in those cases are expected to be announced soon. Other potential claims are pending. The university has approved spending $60-million for the payouts.

The man, known as Victim 5 in court proceedings, was assaulted by Sandusky in August 2001, six months after then-graduate assistant Michael McQueary reported to university officials that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in a campus shower. Because the assault occurred so soon after the McQueary report and took place on campus, it was considered pivotal in reaching a settlement agreement with other victims, said Michael K. Rozen, a lawyer hired by the university to help settle the cases.

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Housing Crunch Prompts Capital U. to Put Students Up at Water-Park Resort

Capital University, in Bexley, Ohio, will house about 30 of its returning students at the Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park Resort, in Columbus, for a few weeks at the start of the fall semester while space on the campus opens up. The students will share suites at the resort, with three to eight in each. A university spokeswoman said, “It’s not ideal, but we’re trying to make the best situation of this that we can, and let them have a little fun along the way.”

Yes, the group will have free access to the water park, but only on weekends. And a university residence employee and a student assistant will (try to) make sure the students behave as if they were on campus.

Fort Rapids’ resort has 277 guest rooms and 60 luxury suites. The students will be sharing suites, with three to eight in each, Johnson said.

The resort has hosted visiting athletes for Capital University sporting events, and doesn’t expect the students to be disruptive, said Mike Robinson, Fort Rapids’ marketing and sales director.

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Report Criticizes College’s Handling of Attack, and 3 Officials Lose Their Jobs

Three officials at St. Louis Community College are out of their jobs after an outside review found “systemwide failure” in the response to an attack on a female student at the college’s Meramec campus, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

The college came under fire for its response to the attack, which occurred in April in a restroom on the Meramec campus. Critics questioned why the campus police initially released the suspect shortly after apprehending him, and why an alert was not sent t…