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Bloomington Herald-Times articles

July 13, 2006

Our opinion: IU enters into a strong partnership
July 13, 2006

Last week we wrote about the good news that nine centers for international and language studies on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington have been awarded federal funding. "It's a great achievement for Indiana University, said Michael McRobbie, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IU Bloomington. "I think it indicates the great strength we have in the broad international studies area."

The funding adds to IU's stature as a national leader in the area of international and language studies. Only IU (when one center on the IUPUI campus is included) and the University of Wisconsin have 10 centers funded under the Title VI program, from which the money came.

This week, the university added again to that stature. McRobbie is leading a delegation to China, where he and the vice president of a major Chinese university signed an agreement that will promote student exchanges and use the Internet for joint research projects.

IU's partner - Tsinghua University in Beijing - is known as the MIT of China, indicating its strong reputation.

This agreement is another indication of IU's determination to enhance its quality in key areas, including science and technology, and to reach around the globe to do so. The partnership will bring top science and technology students to IU's Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, and encourage researchers from the two universities to collaborate in management, engineering and cybersecurity projects through the use of high-speed networks.

McRobbie's delegation also is visiting other top universities in China, which could lead to a number of other collaborations.

Competition is increasingly fierce for research dollars, for faculty and for students as universities vie to distinguish themselves as research institutions. Success in the international arena during the last week or so shows IU is competing well.

Our opinion: Two solid names for the IU list
July 13, 2006

IU Interim Provost Michael McRobbie was instrumental in the programs outlined in the editorial above. That fact will add to the buzz that he's a strong candidate to succeed Adam Herbert as president of the university.

A second name that has surfaced is Jim Morris, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program. He recently announced he will not stay in that job beyond his initial five-year commitment because he and his wife want to return to Indianapolis so he can be closer to family and friends.

Morris, many will recall, was a member of the IU Board of Trustees from 1996 until 2002. He has worked in Indianapolis city government and for the Lilly Endowment. He has been a leader in business, as well as philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors. He took his current job in February 2002, meaning he would be leaving his post at a perfect time to be considered for the IU job.

Both Morris and McRobbie have solid credentials. The trustees will choose from a large pool, but these two men are a good place to start.

Family to settle in boy's death: Felix Chen's mother to use funds to create cultural awareness programs
by Bethany Nolan
July 13, 2006

A settlement is expected soon in a lawsuit over the 2004 death of 6-year-old Felix Chen.

A copy of a preliminary agreement obtained by The Herald-Times said the state of Indiana will pay $250,000 and local private counseling service Family Solutions will pay $100,000 to settle the case. Neither admit any liability in Felix's death.

The settlement is expected to be filed soon in federal court in Indianapolis.

Lingling Chen, Felix's mother and an assistant biology professor at Indiana University, said Wednesday that she will use the money to create cultural awareness programs in Felix's name.

"(Felix's) life has touched many people since he was born, and I hope by setting up such (a) fund, Felix's life continues to affect people's life in a positive way," Chen wrote in an e-mail. "I view this as the best way to remember and honor him."

The lawsuit wasn't about the money, but accountability, she said.

"There is no compensation to bring Felix's life back to me," she wrote. "The settlement, no matter how much it is, is nowhere in comparison to a human being's life, not to mention that this life has been so dear and precious to me."

Geoffrey Grodner, who represented Chen in the case, said he's pleased the settlement will allow Chen to honor Felix.

"Her focus has always been on settling this case or resolving this case in a manner that would give her the ability to do something in Felix's memory," he said.

Felix died in April 2004 at his foster family's home, after the special needs child had been removed from Chen's custody by the Monroe County Office of Family and Children.

Chen filed a federal lawsuit against the Office of Family and Children and Family Solutions in January 2005, alleging Felix's civil rights were violated by his removal and failure to keep him safe and healthy.

The case has been settled and final documents must be filed in the case before July 31, according to documents filed in the federal case.

Of the $350,000 financial award, local law firm Mallor Clendening Grodner & Bohrer will receive $100,000 for attorney fees and Felix's father, Xiaohua Huang, will receive $50,000, the preliminary agreement said.

Attorneys for Huang, Family Solutions and the Office of Family and Children said Wednesday they couldn't talk about the settlement.

The case began in January 2004, when Chen sought help from Family Solutions for help with Felix, a special needs child.

However, a caseworker with Family Solutions contacted welfare workers after allegations of physical and sexual abuse surfaced.

Felix was removed from his home and placed with a foster family in Owen County. After being hospitalized, he was placed with a second foster family in Owen County.

On April 1, 2004, Felix died after suffering a seizure-like episode.

The case drew local media attention after Chen complained she'd not been allowed to speak in Chinese with Felix during visits, the language she said he was most comfortable speaking.

California joins IU-led software project
by Steve Hinnefeld
July 13, 2006

The University of California has joined the IU-led Kuali project, giving a boost to the partnership that is developing open-source financial software for higher education.

"This is a huge endorsement of the path Indiana University has chosen in developing our administrative financial systems," said Brad Wheeler, board chairman of the Kuali Foundation, which administers the project.

The University of California plans to invest $1 million in the collaboration to create software that meets the complex needs of colleges and universities while remaining affordable.

Based on IU's financial information system, the computer software will follow the "open source" model in which users have free access to the source code and can modify it for their needs.

Wheeler, a business professor and IU's chief information officer, said working together provides an alternative to the "buy or build dilemma," in which colleges bear the full cost of building their own systems or buy off-the-shelf products that don't meet their needs.

"It's building together," he said. "We get what we want, but we share the cost with others."

The project's initial product, the Kuali Financial System, is scheduled for release in late September.

IU launched the project two years ago with the University of Hawaii, the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the R-Smart Group.

Last year, it received a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and added partners: Cornell University, San Joaquin Delta College, the University of Arizona and Michigan State University. The nonprofit Kuali Foundation was incorporated in May 2006 to coordinate the effort.

The University of California signed on last week at the Campus of the Future conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Three California campuses, at Davis, Irvine and Santa Barbara, will be involved.

The name Kuali is a Malay word for a kitchen utensil.

The partnership was modeled on the Sakai project, an IU-led effort to build collaboration and learning software for faculty. Sakai has more than 100 partners, including 13 commercial firms.

Wheeler said collaboration is essential because funding for higher education isn't keeping pace with costs. IU will get $9 million worth of software from Kuali while spending less than $2 million.

"We've leveraging $7 million of other people's money," he said.

He said the approach fits with the institutional values of universities, where faculty collaborate on research and knowledge is shared. And he said it conforms with the philosophy of Herman B Wells, the longtime IU president, who wrote in his autobiography that universities must work together because "the resources of higher education are so insufficient and the opportunities and responsibilities so vast."

"I think these projects are very much in the spirit of what he was trying to accomplish," Wheeler said.

On the Web

• Kuali project -

• Sakai project -

• National Association of College and University Business Officers -

Jury selected in retrial of Julie Rea-Harper
Associated Press
July 13, 2006

CARLYLE, Ill. - A jury was seated Wednesday in this southern Illinois lakeside community to hear the retrial of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her 10-year-old son in 1997 -- a crime a Texas death row inmate says he committed.

Opening statements and testimony was to begin Thursday in the case of Julie Rea-Harper, charged with first-degree murder in Joel Kirkpatrick's death at her rural Lawrence County home.

Attorneys for both sides on Tuesday agreed on eight of the 12 jurors, then tapped the final four panelists and four alternates on Wednesday, special prosecutor Ed Parkinson said. Forty-seven prospective jurors were quizzed as part of the selection process.

The case is being heard in this town about 60 miles east of St. Louis on a venue change from Lawrence County, where prosecutors say the 37-year-old mother killed her only child early Oct. 13, 1997.

Prosecutors have claimed that Rea-Harper killed the fifth-grader after losing custody of him to the boy's father. Rea-Harper has insisted a masked intruder killed the boy as he slept, then struggled with her before fleeing.

When charged in 2000, Rea-Harper was an Indiana University doctoral student in educational psychology.

Wayne County jurors who heard the case in 2002 convicted Rea-Harper, and she was sentenced to 65 years in prison. The state's 5th District Appellate Court in June 2004 threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial, citing a technicality.

Unlike the first trial, jurors now will hear confessions by condemned Texas inmate Tommy Lynn Sells that he -- not Rea-Harper -- randomly killed Joel Kirkpatrick.

Sells, a one-time drifter and carnival roustabout, is on Texas' death row for knifing to death a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom in the family's mobile home. Sells, 42, claims he has killed more than a dozen people, and he's suspected in dozens more slayings across the country.

Two months before the boy's death, an Illinois appeals court rejected Rea-Harper's request for custody of her son. The father, Len Kirkpatrick, had gained custody in March 1996, 18 months after the couple divorced.

Bob Knight sells local land for $850,000: Former coach bought 200 acres on West Bolin and South Victor Pike in 2002
by Marcela Creps
July 13, 2006

About 200 acres of land west of Bloomington owned by former IU basketball coach Bob Knight recently sold for $850,000.

The two parcels on West Bolin Lane and South Victor Pike were sold June 20 to Barry and Terre Elkins, according to The Herald-Times property transfers database.

Former owner Yvonne Freeman said Wednesday that the land was sold to Knight when she and her husband, Mark, bought a larger piece of farmland a few years ago.

"When we bought the whole farm, we sold that part to Bob," she explained.

Freeman said she wasn't sure what Knight's original plans were for the land.

"I think it was an investment property all along," she said.

According to the Sales Disclosure Form filed with the county auditor in 2002, Knight purchased the land on March 1, 2002, for $800,000.

Knight was head men's basketball coach for IU from 1972 until his firing in September 2000.

The new owners seemed surprised that the sale was newsworthy.

"I just bought it," said Barry Elkins, who said he did not speak with Knight during the land deal. "I don't have any plans for it. I'm open to anything, though."

Elkins developed a number of apartments in Bloomington over the years, but he is no longer active in the day-to-day operations.

While the Interstate 69 plans are still up for debate, Elkins said only 30 acres of the nearly 200 would be affected. Elkins said he considered it a beautiful spot.

"It's a heck of a piece of ground," he said.