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Noteworthy Briefs

State, University Professors Reach Agreement on Contract
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Negotiators for the state and the union representing faculty at 14 state universities reached a tentative agreement on a new contract last month, just two hours before a strike moratorium set by the union was about to expire.
Details of the three-year contract proposal were not available pending ratification votes.
“The tentative agreement is fair to both sides,” says union president William Fulmer. “Now our faculty members can concentrate solely on delivering a quality education to our 95,000 students. The students, families and future students of the state system are the real winners.” “It has been a difficult process, but we are now looking forward to working with our fine faculty as we move together into the new millennium,” says state system chancellor James H. McCormack. [Spelling?]
The union will vote on the pact within the next month, according to union spokesman Kevin Kodish. The State System Board of Governors will meet shortly thereafter to consider its approval.
The two-week moratorium announced by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties was set to expire just before the agreement was reached. APSCUF was asking for a 3.25 percent pay raise in the first year of a three-year contract and raises of 3 percent in the remaining years.
APSCUF rejected a State System of Higher Education offer last week of a 2 percent raise in pay retroactive from July and a 1 percent raise in the spring. The SSHE offer was rejected on the grounds that summer school pay would remain at rates established in 1995 and no increases would be added to the union’s health and welfare fund.  Other issues included the SSHE’s use of temporary faculty, contributions to the union’s health and welfare fund and professors retaining rights to creative properties such as books and Web sites.
The system consists of Cheyney, Slippery Rock, Edinboro, California, Clarion, Lock Haven, Shippensburg, West Chester, Mansfield, Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Millersville and Indiana universities.

Committee Hears Testimony on Collective Bargaining for University
MADISON, Wis. — A bill that would give University of Wisconsin faculty and staff the right to collective bargaining was the subject of a legislative hearing before the state’s Senate Education Committee last month.
Currently, members of the state school’s faculty or academic staff may organize and join labor unions, but the state is not required to recognize or bargain collectively with them by statute. This bill would authorize collective bargaining for UW faculty and staff salaries, fringe benefits and hours and conditions of employment. The faculty and staff of each UW campus may decide individually whether to participate in bargaining.
The committee also discussed Senate Bill 189, which would limit University of Wisconsin System resident tuition increases to the percentage change in the consumer price index as certified by the state’s department of revenue.

Calif. Senate Hopeful Running on Affirmative Action, Free College Platform
SACRAMENTO — A Los Angeles Democrat running for the U.S. Senate wants to bring back affirmative action and has even written an initiative that would overturn the 1996 measure that outlawed such programs in this state. The proposed ballot measure by Mervin Evans, a 46-year-old investment adviser, also would increase the state sales tax by 1.5 cents and use that money to make state colleges free and to better prepare poor students for a higher education.
The state’s sales tax currently ranges from 7.25 percent to 8.5 percent, depending on the jurisdiction. Increasing it by 1.5 percent would bring in about $6 billion a year, according to the state Board of Equalization.
Under his initiative, half of the money raised would be used to offset student fees for California residents at University of California, California State University and community college campuses. The other half would go to public schools for programs for poor children.
Evans is the only announced Democrat running against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the March 7 primary. He previously ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 1998. He has proposed placing the ballot initiative before voters in November 2000.

Sainthood Campaign for Founder of Xavier Clears Major Hurdle
NEW ORLEANS — Katharine Drexel, a millionaire heiress who renounced Philadelphia society to become a Catholic nun working among impoverished Blacks and American Indians and who later used her fortune to found Xavier University, has cleared the last major hurdle in the process the Catholic church employs to identify saints.
A team of medical examiners could find no natural explanation for the restoration of hearing in an unidentified Pennsylvania child earlier found to be completely deaf, and whose family said they prayed to Drexel to intercede with God on their child’s behalf. If formally accepted, the healing would constitute the required second miracle the church regards as divine confirmation that a candidate is worthy of worldwide emulation.
Born in 1858, Katharine Drexel was one of three daughters of Francis A. Drexel, a wealthy international banker who guaranteed his daughters a lifetime income generated by a $14 million trust. But not long after making her debut into Philadelphia society, “Katie” Drexel entered a convent and assumed the disciplines of religious life.
Having taken a vow of poverty, Drexel gave all her income away, much of it to finance relief among Native Americans and Blacks, two disadvantaged groups to whom she devoted her career and dedicated her order of nuns. At her death in 1955 her donations amounted to about $20 million, according to her order.
In 1915, Drexel quietly purchased property in a mostly White neighborhood in New Orleans and opened a high school for Black children. The high school later became a teacher training institution and, in 1925, evolved into Xavier University.
If canonized, Drexel would become the fourth American saint, joining Mother Elizabeth Seton, an educator, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, an educator and social worker, and St. John Neumann, a 19th century bishop of Philadelphia.   

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