House committee OK's VCU's
branch campus in Qatar
The House Education Committee
advanced a bill authorizing VCU to establish a full, degree-granting
branch campus in Qatar, a Middle-Eastern country running a program
like VCU's School of the Arts, the Richmond
Times-Dispatch reported today.
The Qatar Foundation and
VCU in 1997 signed a 10-year contract allowing the university to set
up a design arts college in the oil-rich country. At the Qatar campus,
VCU professors currently teach about 130 students from eight countries.
The program has support
from both the State Council of Higher Education and the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools, said Richard Toscan, dean of VCU's School
of the Arts. Now it wants
the General Assembly's approval.
Delegate Mitchell Van Yahres,
D-Charlottesville, cast the only vote against the proposal, citing
terrorism and safety concerns.
Hager no longer Lee-Jackson
Because of pressure from
Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner, anti-terrorism czar John H. Hager
has withdrawn as the keynote speaker at an event today honoring Confederate
Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Hager, a Republican and
former lieutenant governor, issued a statement yesterday withdrawing
from the event. He had been scheduled to address onlookers and discuss
the importance of the Civil War to Virginia tourism.
"I appreciate Governor
Warner's willingness to respect my earlier decision to keep the prior
commitment, but I feel that it is no longer appropriate," Hager
told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Bill burns its way through
the Senate Courts Committee
A bill making cross-burning
illegal in Virginia sailed through the Senate Courts of Justice Committee
yesterday with unanimous approval, the Richmond
The bill would make it
a crime to burn a cross on private or public property. It would replace
a similar law that was struck down last year by the Virginia
Supreme Court. The court ruled that the old statute violated a person's
First Amendment free-speech rights.
Lawmakers say schools
still can't open before Labor Day
Two measures allowing
schools to fashion their own calendars and start classes before Labor
Day were rejected by the House Education Committee yesterday, the
The panel voted 16-5 against
a bill repealing the so-called "Kings Dominion law," which
says public schools can't open before Labor Day without state permission.
The current law ensures that students can continue working through
the summer at Kings Dominion and other theme parks.
Supporters of the existing
law note that the state benefits from tax revenues from theme parks
and other tourist attractions. Opponents believe local school boards
should have control of their own school calendars.
"It is the responsibility
of the school board to establish the school calendar, not the responsibility
of the General Assembly," said Dick Pulley of the Virginia School
J. Paul Councill Jr., D-Southampton, said he thinks the current system
has worked well and the current law should be left alone.