{News Briefs}

Purcell, ACLU appeal to Superior Court

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to represent Mike Purcell, a UAA social work student convicted of murder in 1984, in a case appealing the school’s decision to deny Purcell entry into its degree program. Because of his conviction, Purcell was denied admission into the program twice, though he meets all requirements and has completed most of the required coursework. The ACLU filed an appeal of the university’s decision July 1 in Anchorage Superior Court, arguing that Purcell should be allowed into the program as a means to rehabilitation. ACLU staff attorney Jason Brandeis will work with Renee McFarland, an attorney overseeing a prisoner’s-rights project for the organization, in representing Purcell.


Undergrad discovers dinosaur track

A University of Alaska Fairbanks student discovered the footprint of a three-toed dinosaur in Denali National Park, June 27. Undergraduate Susie Tomsich was the first to spot the track during a six-week field course offered by the UAF Department of Geology and Geophysics. The track, which measured 9 inches long and 6 inches wide, was made by a carnivorous dinosaur called a theropod. UAF associate professor of geology Paul McCarthy determined from the size of the footprint that the animal was between 9 to 13 feet long. The age of the print, determined by paleobiological study of pollen within the formation, was determined to be around 70 million years old.


Blackboard system changes take effect

UAA stopped offering Blackboard Community Portal, July 10 due to a combination of increased licensing stricture, pricing and low usage. The University’s Blackboard course management system was previously comprised of two products:  the Blackboard Learning System and the Blackboard Community Portal. The Learning System aspect of Blackboard will be unaffected by the change. An analysis by Information Technology Services showed that only around 8 percent of Blackboard users utilized the Community Portal add-on features. Another upgrade of the Blackboard system is scheduled for later this month.


Compiled by Jessica Golden and Laura Stennett