All posts by Nick DeSantis


Former Athletic Director Wins $140,000 in Lawsuit Against Alabama State U.

An Alabama judge has awarded a former athletic director at Alabama State University more than $140,000 in his wrongful-termination lawsuit against the university, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The decision in favor of the former athletic director, Stacy Danley, comes six months after the historically black institution’s Board of Trustees rejected a settlement offer that would have seen Mr. Danley return to his position for the remainder of his contract. Mr. Danley was fired in 2012. A la…


Length of Education Dept.’s Sexual-Violence Investigations Has Increased Sharply

The average length of sexual-violence investigations conducted by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has increased sharply in recent years, according to a letter that the department sent to U.S. senators who have asked for more transparency in the department’s efforts to curb campus sexual assaults.

The federal office, known as OCR, has already been facing the dual pressures of a sharply increasing caseload and declines in staffing. Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant…


Wis. Lawmakers Drop Governor’s Autonomy Plan for University System

State lawmakers in Wisconsin are abandoning a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to give the University of Wisconsin system more autonomy by spinning it off as a separate government authority, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Mr. Walker, a Republican, had proposed giving the system more independence in exchange for cutting its budget by about $300 million over two years. The proposal generated significant controversy, and several Wisconsin campuses have cut positions or offered buyouts in anti…


Miami U. Calls Off Plan to Demolish Historic Building After Outcry

Miami University has called off a plan to demolish a historic building on its campus and build a residence hall in its place after preservation activists called the plan illegal, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The plan angered some alumnae of the Western College for Women, which became part of the Ohio university in 1974. The building that was to have been demolished, Patterson Place, is a short distance from two stone pillars that used to mark the college’s entrance.

David C. Hodge, Miami’s president, sent an email to the campus this week stating that the university would not move forward with the plan. He said university officials were working to create a fund-raising plan to renovate the building instead.

Miami University President David Hodge sent an email Monday saying plans to demolish the building have been canceled.

Hodge said he received feedback that the demolition “could seriously undermine our sense of place, our sense of self and our sense of community.”

“The decision to seek an alternate site will create significant challenges as we move forward. There almost certainly will be additional costs and obstacles, and we will be challenged to meet our goals in the time frame before us,” Hodge said in the email.

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Western Michigan U. Will Pay $35,000 to Settle Free-Speech Suit

Western Michigan University will pay $35,000 to settle a student group’s lawsuit asserting that the institution’s policies restricted free speech on the campus, MLive reports. The lawsuit, by a group known as the Kalamazoo Peace Center, concerned efforts to bring the musician and activist Boots Riley to the campus as a keynote speaker for one of the group’s events. The suit said the university had tried to place improper restrictions on the event.

A spokeswoman for Western Michigan told MLive that the settlement was not an admission of fault, and that it represented a fraction of the amount initially requested in the dispute.

WMU spokeswoman Cheryl Roland confirmed Monday that the university agreed to pay $35,000 in attorney fees to settle the case “mostly to come to a quick resolution and to let everyone move forward.”The university will not pay any damages in the case, she said.

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Judge Voids Retirement Deal for Ex-President of Pasadena City College

A California judge on Wednesday voided a nearly $400,000 retirement agreement between Pasadena City College and one of its former presidents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The former president, Mark W. Rocha, announced last summer that he would step down as the two-year institution’s chief after a rocky tenure in which faculty members frequently criticized his leadership. A nonprofit advocacy group filed a lawsuit asserting that the college’s trustees had violated the state’s open-meetings law…


Eastern New Mexico U. Drops Use of Tribal Name for Women’s Teams

Eastern New Mexico University’s Board of Regents on Friday voted to discontinue the use of a tribal name and symbol for the institution’s women’s sports teams. Eastern New Mexico had used the name “Zias” for its women’s teams since 1981, after the people of the Zia Pueblo. But the board decided to drop the name after students voted to discontinue its use.

The women’s teams will now be called the Greyhounds, sharing the name of the men’s teams. The regents’ action came at the request of the university’s president, Steven Gamble, who said a number of other groups had also supported the change.

According to Gamble, the University consulted the current women’s athletics teams on the issue, and he said they responded in a generally supportive matter.
“The Alumni Office sent out 11,000 emails, and approximately 1,400 to 1,500 people read those emails,” Gamble said. “The office received approximately 29 responses as of April 15, and the majority supported the discontinuation.”

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Sweet Briar Faculty Members Sue to Block College’s Closure

Fifty-six faculty members at Sweet Briar College have sued to block their institution from closing, The News & Advance, a newspaper in Lynchburg, Va., reported.

The lawsuit, filed in a state court, seeks $42 million in damages for tenured faculty members and an additional $2 million for nontenured faculty. It also asks the court to issue orders preventing the college from shutting down.

The women’s college, on a 3,250-acre campus near Lynchburg, announced suddenly last month that it would close in August, shocking many in the campus community and prompting the college’s supporters to begin an effort to keep the institution open.

The faculty lawsuit is the third legal action to challenge the college’s closure. The other two were filed by the Amherst County attorney and by a group of students, parents, and alumnae. In the county attorney’s lawsuit, a judge issued a 60-day injunction barring the college from using charitable contributions on the closure, but otherwise declined to stop the closure from proceeding.

The faculty complaint claims the “financial exigency” cited in their termination letters as the reason for the end of their employment does not exist.

The college, the complaint claims, is not facing insurmountable financial challenges.

The complaint points to “high scores in public reports issued by the U.S. Department of Education, Forbes, and the Council of Independent Colleges’ Financial Index,” among other evidence.

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U. of Md. Student Group Shelves Showings of ‘American Sniper’ After Complaints

A student group at the University of Maryland at College Park has pulled the film American Sniper from its spring lineup after a Muslim-student group complained that the movie glorifies violence and promotes negative stereotypes about Muslims, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The first student group, Student Entertainment Events, said on its website that it had decided to “postpone” showings on May 6 and 7 “after meeting with concerned student organizations.”

The group said it was exploring ways of “…


After Pressure From Lawmakers, 2-Year Campus in Conn. Will Stay Open

The head of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System said on Wednesday that a campus of Middlesex Community College that had been slated for closure in the face of proposed budget cuts would stay open after all, following intense pressure from members of the state’s legislature, The Connecticut Mirror reported.

The State Senate and House of Representatives recently passed legislation to block the proposed closure and to bar the system from closing any campus without the legislature’s approval. College administrators acted to close Middlesex’s Meriden Center campus without a vote by the state’s Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Gregory W. Gray, the head of the Connecticut system, said on Wednesday that the campus would remain open and that he was depending on the state to provide it with financial support.

Gray told reporters after the board meeting that the bill was “bad legislation,” saying that if a tornado hit Eastern Connecticut State University he would need the legislature’s approval to close the campus.

Asked about the future of the Meriden campuses if state funding is ultimately cut as the governor recommends, Gray said he will follow the law.

“We will somehow follow the statutes,” he said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not yet signed the bill, and it is unclear whether he will do so.

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