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University Business, Jan 2006

IN THE NEWS: There have been a flurry of lawsuits filed by ex-presidents and higher education executives. Richard Wueste, ex-president of Adams State College (Colo.), has filed suit, claiming that his reputation was damaged when the trustees fired him. He was let go after two days of hearings in which the trustees found that the fiscal budget for 2006 would have to be adjusted because of a $600,000 shortfall. While the trustees accused Wueste of financial mismanagement, he is saying that his termination was devoid of due process. He wants the college to pay for lost earnings... Renee Holcombe, the former associate vice president of student affairs at Greenville Technical College (S.C.), is suing that institution to get her job back. Holcombe was fired in September after she referred to New Orleans students at Greenville displaced by Hurricane Katrina as "yard apes." Some staff members took her remark to be a racial slur, but Holcombe says she meant it as an affectionate and humorous reference to school children... Robert Holton, a professor at Florida State University, is suing the IHE, claiming that it has failed to fulfill its promise to build a new research laboratory. Holton, who created an invention used by pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to help produce an anti-cancer drug, has been credited with bringing $210 million in licensing revenue to FSU. Holton says he has personally turned over a portion of his own licensing revenue to FSU. For its part, the university had agreed to use one-quarter of the licensing revenue it has made on his invention to build a laboratory for synthetic chemistry. Since agreeing to the terms, FSU President T.K. Wetherell has said that Holton's specifications for the new building have made it too costly and that the university would be better off with a new facility that would benefit the entire chemistry department, not just a select group of researchers.

APPOINTED AND PROMOTED: Erroll Davis will be the first person outside academia to be chancellor of the University of Georgia system. Davis retired this summer as CEO of Alliant Energy Corp., a multibillion-dollar utility holding company. Prior to running that company he held other executive positions in the energy industry. He does have some higher education experience on his resume, though. He has served on the boards of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Chicago, both Davis's alma maters... The University of Texas has chosen a successor for outgoing President Larry Faulkner. William Powers, dean of UT's School of Law, has been named to the top job. Powers became a national figure when he testified before Congress regarding the collapse of Texas-based Enron Corp. Despite the fact that Enron had donated more than $3 million to UT, Powers is credited with delivering a fair but critical analysis of the company... The University of Virginia also is announcing a "first" by naming William Harvey its vice president and chief officer for Diversity and Equity. UVA created the new post to signal how serious it is about its effort to attract and retain a more diverse student body. Harvey has served for the past five years as vice president of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education, Washington, D.C... Susan Aldridge will become president of the University of Maryland University College in February. She has been vice chancellor of University College of Troy University (Ala.)... William Underwood, currently interim president of Baylor University (Texas), will be the next president of Mercer College (Ga.). Mercer, like Baylor, is an IHE with ties to the Baptist Church. Like Baylor, Mercer has worked in recent years to strike a balance between church influence and academic independence. --J.M.A.

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