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President to President

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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President to President, March 5-9, 2012

Vol. 13, No. 9

  • ACE Annual Meeting Begins Tomorrow
  • Virginia Supreme Court Rules for U.Va. on Climate Emails
  • Higher Education Leaders Named to DHS Academic Advisory Council
  • IN BRIEF: Webinar on Campus Political Activities; NJ Representative Donald Payne Dies at 77

We're only a day away from seeing many of you in Los Angeles for ACE's 94th Annual Meeting, which begins this weekend and runs through March 13. For those of you attending, please download our new Annual Meeting app to keep up with sessions and activities from your phone or tablet. For those unable to attend, we post daily reports on Twitter (@ACEducation) throughout the meeting. I'll have all the details for you in next Friday's President to President.

The Virginia Supreme Court this week sided with the University of Virginia (U.Va.) in its continuing fight against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's investigation of former U.Va. researcher Michael Mann.

U.Va. has been engaged in legal proceedings for the past two years to prevent Cuccinelli from subpoenaing extensive documentation relating to Mann's climate change research. U.Va. argued Cuccinelli's demands are too broad, outside the scope of his authority and in violation of academic freedom.

U.Va. filed a brief in 2010 that includes an affidavit I provided in support of the university. My affidavit stated that if government is permitted to impinge upon the process whereby academic researchers brainstorm, debate, criticize and refine scientific hypotheses, it would threaten the free exchange of ideas that is so integral to the university environment. Cuccinelli has said he believes climate change is a hoax and academic freedom should not shield scientists from investigations into whether they might have broken a law.

The Virginia Supreme Court decision upheld a 2010 Albemarle Circuit Court decision that set aside Cuccinelli's demands for the emails and other documents related to grants Mann received to study climate change while at U.Va. The Circuit Court ruling said Cuccinelli failed to adequately state what Mann might have done wrong and that he lacked authority to investigate federal grants.

While the Supreme Court's ruling was on a discrete statutory issue of Virginia law and the case is now considered closed, the underlying issue addressed in my affidavit of protecting faculty research from intrusive and potentially damaging disclosures is an ongoing issue that we are watching.

My congratulations to all of the higher education leaders, including incoming ACE Board Chair Joseph E. Aoun, for being named to the new Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC).

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has tapped Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland, to chair the group. It will be tasked with providing advice and recommendations on issues related to student and recent graduate recruitment; international students; academic research; campus and community resiliency, security and preparedness; and faculty exchanges.

HSAAC's inaugural meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for March 20 in Washington, DC. For a full list of the presidents and other leaders tapped to serve on the council, see the DHS website.

IN BRIEF

The National Association of College and University Attorneys, in cooperation with ACE, is presenting a webinar next week to discuss political activities on college campuses. "Eliminating the Pitfalls of Electioneering on Campus" is scheduled for 12-2 p.m. EDT on March 15. The program will review the key issues and risks that can impact institutions during the election season, including federal tax laws governing election-related activities; voter registration campaigns; campus-sponsored events; class instruction; the use of campus facilities and media; and activities of affiliated campus organizations, students and employees.

Finally this week, I would like to note the passing this week of a great friend of higher education, Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ). Rep. Payne died Tuesday after a battle with colon cancer. A longtime member of the House education committee, he was a strong supporter of Pell Grants and scholarships for minority students and also worked as an advocate for international education and increased partnerships between African and U.S. universities. His voice will be greatly missed in Congress and by the higher education community.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE