Inaugurations are rare events at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. It's had just three presidents in 47 years.
But on Thursday, it will make history when Dr. Julie Sullivan is formally installed as the first female president, and the first lay person at the Catholic university. To mark the occasion, St. Thomas has canceled all afternoon classes that day to allow students, faculty and staff to attend.
Sullivan, 56, started her job July 1. She was preceded by Father Dennis Dease, who became president in 1991, and Monsignor Terrence Murphy, who started his term in 1966.
The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17 at the field house of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex at the university's St. Paul campus.
Meagan Nouis hopes to go into broadcasting when she graduates from the University of Minnesota. But if all else fails, she could always join the circus.
On Thursday, Nouis spent her lunch hour on Northrop Mall leading half a dozen other students in the fine art of juggling.
"I've been juggling for 7 1/2 years," said Nouis, 20, a senior from Little Falls who's majoring in communications. She returned from study abroad in January, determined to revive the U's dormant juggling club.
Now, it has some 15 or 20 members who gather once a week on Thursdays to practice their craft. In fact, they're hosting a three-day festival - "FlipFest" - on Nov. 1-3 at Coffman Union.
Nouis says juggling is "absolutely" a stress reliever, and insists that she's taught some people how to do it in as little as 20 minutes.
"We totally encourage anyone who's never tried it before," she said. "We tell them anybody can learn."
It's been almost 25 years since British author Salman Rushdie incurred the wrath of Iran's leaders, and a death sentence, with the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses. This month, he's coming to Minnesota to share his reflections on the censorship battle that started in 1989, when Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued his infamous "fatwa" ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie for blasphemy.
Rushdie, who lived in hiding for a decade, resurfaced publicly after the fatwa was lifted by Khomeini's successor.
On Oct. 25, he'll be at Carleton College in Northfield to deliver a lecture called "Censorship and The Satanic Verses: 25 Years Later." The 6 pm event is free, with reservations. To register online, go to go.carleton.edu/rushdie.
A year-old cheating scandal is still casting a shadow over Harvard Yard.
This fall, students who were suspended for a year are returning to Harvard University, but the bitterness and finger- pointing haven't faded away, the New York Times reports.
Last summer, school officials revealed that as many as half the students in a large lecture class - identified as Introduction to Congress - may have cheated on a take-home final exam in May, 2012. About 70 students were suspended, and the soul-searching began.
But perhaps the most startling revelation is that the course itself had a reputation for being easy. No required attendance. Easy A's. So why would students at one of the nation's most elite schools cheat? The Times reports that students complained that the "grading got tougher and the exam questions became harder and more confusing."
Concordia University in St. Paul took the plunge this year, cutting tuition by $10,000, and saw enrollment skyrocket. Now a handful of other colleges nationwide are making similar moves. But are they setting themselves up for trouble?
An article in Inside Higher Ed argues that they may be:
"The cuts are neither a panacea for small private colleges nor a true solution for the ever-rising costs of higher education in America, according to others who have tried. Some also predict that, done improperly or by the wrong institution, tuition cuts could ruin some small private colleges by decreasing their allure."
The union representing clerical workers at the University of Minnesota is protesting a recent wave of layoffs.
Melanie Steinman, chief steward of AFSCME local 3800, used last week's public forum on the U's proposed operating budget to criticize not only the fact that 25 employees were cut from the U's Office of Information Technology -- but the "appalling manner in which these layoffs were carried out."
The employees "were given their layoff notices and told to leave on the spot," she said. "These employees were not thanked for their service. Instead, many were escorted out of the building as plain-clothed police observed."
She claimed that they were "shamed and treated like criminals."
The university has a different version of events. In a statement, passed along by spokesman Chuck Tombarge, officials said that "this unfortunate situation was handled with sensitivity, consistency among employees and compassion."
Employees "met with their manager and a representative from Human Resources, who sincerely thanked them for their service and assured them that the layoff was not a result of their performance," the statement said.
Both sides agree that 25 employees were dismissed from the department. The union says that 14 were in the clerical and technical workers' unions. The U says that the group included "a senior manager."
The union will protest the layoffs during a news conference Friday morning. The Board of Regents will vote on the 2014 operating budget during a meeting later that day.
In a press release about the protest, Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME local 3800 said: “It’s time to stop chopping from the bottom and start chopping from the top."
The group is calling for a "reevaluation" of the layoffs. The university has said that the layoffs were "in direct response to information technology industry changes."