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Photo: Linda A. Cicero

Thomas

FACULTY SUPPORT ROTC RETURN

After extended debate, the Faculty Senate on April 28 voted 28-9 (with three abstentions) to invite the U.S. military's Reserve Officers' Training Corps to return to campus, with conditions that would include the right of ROTC students to select any major. About 50 students demonstrated before the meeting against any ROTC return.

The vote followed the presentation of the report from the Ad Hoc Committee on ROTC, formed in anticipation of the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell'' policy for gay and lesbian service members. The 10-member committee, chaired by psychology professor Ewart Thomas, unanimously recommended inviting ROTC to return and creating a Stanford committee to consult on any agreement with a military branch. The resolution noted formal disapproval of the military's exclusion of transgender individuals. University President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy, PhD '82, later released a statement saying Stanford would begin conversations with the military.

On-campus ROTC programs at Stanford were phased out in the early 1970s amid opposition to the Vietnam War and concern about the programs' academic rigor. At present, Stanford students commute to UC-Berkeley, San Jose State and Santa Clara University for most ROTC instruction.

STANFORD LOSES PATENT CASE

The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled against Stanford's claim of sole patent ownership in its case against Roche Holding involving three patents used in monitoring AIDS treatments. The court ruled 7-2 against Stanford, whose arguments had been supported by the Obama administration and numerous universities.

Stanford contended Roche's basis for asserting co-ownership was invalid under the federal Bayh-Dole Act provisions that protect the title to patents invented with federal funding. But a federal appeals court ruled against the University in 2009. The dispute arose from a rights agreement signed by a Stanford scientist with a biotech company later acquired by Roche. The Supreme Court decision upheld the validity of rights transfer based on that individual's actions.

Stanford, expressing concern about the potential actions of individual inventors at universities and small businesses, disagreed with the ruling by quoting the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, '59. He wrote that assigning an invention produced with federal funds to a third party was "inconsistent with the (Bayh-Dole) Act's basic purposes."

Stanford general counsel Debra Zumwalt said that despite the University's disappointment, it "will move forward to protect the interests of all parties in inventions created with Federal funding, including the interests of the Federal Government and companies that license technology from Stanford."

SUCCESS, AFTER 52 YEARS

The Gravity Probe B satellite experiment, in which Stanford and NASA tested two principles of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, concluded successfully in May, capping a scientific initiative that dates from 1959 ("Tracking Einstein," Farm Report, July/August 2009).

Final analysis of the data from instrumentation carried by the spacecraft confirmed the geodetic effect (which refers to how the Earth's mass warps space and time) and frame-dragging (the dragging of space-time by the Earth's rotation). Delays and financial crises, along with the formidable scale and complexity of the effort, kept Stanford physicist and principal investigator Francis Everitt at work on the project since 1962.

"The decades of technological innovation behind the mission will have a lasting legacy on earth and in space," noted Everitt.

UNIVERSITIES TEAM UP TO FIGHT HIGH-RISK DRINKING

Stanford is participating with 13 other colleges and universities in The Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, which will examine ways to thwart binge drinking, which affects an estimated 40 percent of college students nationally.

The collaborative, an initiative of the National College Health Improvement Project, will involve a team of Stanford health and safety experts, including student and faculty representatives led by Ira Friedman, director of Vaden Health Center.

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EASY RIDING

Stanford received the only platinum award—the top designation—among 20 schools that the League of American Bicyclists honored earlier this spring as bicycle-friendly universities. The reaction from Ariadne Scott, Stanford's bicycle program coordinator, reflected the University's resolve to further improve cycling conditions and safety. "We want Stanford to leave a legacy for alternative transportation," Scott said.

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