University Paid $4.5-Million in Legal Fees for Fatal Lab Fire at UCLA

The University of California paid nearly $4.5-million in legal fees to defend itself and a UCLA professor in the case of a 2008 lab fire that left one dead, the Los Angeles Times reports. Records obtained by the Times show that nearly five dozen lawyers and other staff members billed the university for upwards of 7,700 hours of work on the case.

On December 29, 2008, a chemical ignited and burned a 23-year-old research assistant, Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji, who died 18 days later. The professor …


College President Is Put on Leave After Alleged Alcohol-Related Misconduct

The president of Williston State College, Raymond Nadolny, has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of misconduct involving alcohol, the Williston Herald reports.

The North Dakota college said the allegations were being investigated by an outside group. Mr. Nadolny, who was hired in 2009, has been cooperating with the investigation, the college said.

“It was time that Ray get disconnected from the campus, allowing him to work on issues of his health and well-being,” said Lar…


Australian Premier Calls University’s Fossil-Fuel Divestment ‘Stupid’

While other prominent figures in the country have hailed the Australian National University’s decision to divest from fossil fuels, the country’s prime minister said it was “stupid.”

“Of course they should be free to do what they want,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, “but when they make stupid decisions we should be free to criticize them.” The university’s fossil-fuel investments total about $16-million, or 1 percent of its total holdings.

A handful of universities in the United States have divested from fossil fuels in recent years, while some academics have called the move an empty gesture.

Prime minister Tony Abbott has blasted the Australian National University’s “stupid decision” to get rid of its fossil fuels share portfolio. The university is offloading holdings in Iluka Resources, Independence Group, Newcrest Mining, Sandfire Resources, Oil Search, Santos and Sirius Resources for ethical reasons.

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Free-Speech Lawsuit About Student’s Remarks on Lesbianism May Proceed

A free-speech lawsuit in which a former student at the University of New Mexico has accused it of blasting her views on lesbianism may proceed in court, a federal judge ruled last month. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Judge M. Christina Armijo of the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque denied the university’s motion to dismiss the case, which was filed last year by Monica Pompeo.

The case stems from a film critique Ms. Pompeo completed as part of a class in 2012. In the critique, she called…


Racial Vandalism Sparks Protests at U. of Massachusetts at Amherst

Racial vandalism found outside three dormitory-room doors over the weekend sparked protests over race relations at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Wednesday evening, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

The university is investigating the graffiti messages, which  threatened African-American and Mexican students with obscenities. According to the Gazette, one of the messages read, “Kill these Mexicans can’t even speak English.”

In response to the incident, the university’s Nationa…


Philosophy Dept. Roiled by Claims of Sex Harassment to Resume Admissions

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s philosophy department will resume graduate admissions for the 2015-16 academic year. The move comes eight months after allegations of sexual harassment spurred the removal of the department’s chairman and the suspension of admissions. According to a news release from the university, the department has carried out a series of reforms that “address issues of harassment and discrimination.”

“I believe the department has had difficult conversations, worked thr…


College Paid Oscar Winner $26,050 Not to Sue Over Commencement Flap

Pasadena City College agreed to pay an Academy Award-winning screenwriter $26,050 not to take legal action after the college canceled—but later restored—his invitation to be its commencement speaker last spring, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Explicit photographs of the screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, an alumnus of the Pasadena college, were posted online earlier this year, prompting the college to revoke an informal invitation for him to speak on the campus in May. Mr. Black threatened legal …


Feminist Speaker’s Cancellation Spurs Protest of Misogyny in Video-Gaming

A prominent critic of misogyny in video-gaming culture canceled a speech she was scheduled to give at Utah State University on Tuesday after she drew death threats. But the threats weren’t what prompted Anita Sarkeesian to cancel the talk, she said on Twitter:


Cornell U. Provost Is Named Next President of U. of Florida

W. Kent Fuchs, Cornell University’s provost, was named the University of Florida’s next president on Wednesday. Mr. Fuchs, one of two candidates interviewed by the university’s Board of Trustees, will take office in January. The other finalist was the provost of New York University, David W. McLaughlin.

Mr. Fuchs will succeed J. Bernard Machen, who has been in office since 2004. Mr. Machen announced in 2012 that he would retire, but he remained in office at the request of the state’s governor, Rick Scott, and the chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees.

The choice of Mr. Fuchs, an academic, contrasts with Florida State University’s pick last month of John E. Thrasher, an influential state senator, as its next president.

The new UF president will take office in January, moving into a brand new $3.1 million home on campus. Fuchs’ base salary is expected to be in the $500,000 range annually.

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Texas Community College Rejects Applicants From Nigeria, Citing Ebola

A community college in Texas has rejected the applications of two students from Nigeria, saying it was not accepting students from countries that had reported cases of the Ebola virus, CNBC reports.

In letters to the two applicants, Navarro College cited Ebola as the reason for their rejection, according to a relative of theirs who received the letters. Nigeria has not reported a new Ebola case since September 8. By contrast, Texas received news of a second infected health-care worker in Dallas on Wednesday morning.

In a written statement, Navarro College alluded to “incorrect information” provided to applicants, and noted that the college has “almost 100 students from Africa” on its campus this fall.

At least two students from Nigeria who applied to a Texas college were told that they wouldn’t be admitted because of Ebola. Kamorudeen Abidogun, a Texas man originally from Nigeria, said he received two letters from Navarro College, a two-year community college with a campus about 58 miles from Dallas.

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