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UMass higher-ups going even higher up

After months of rumors about a relocation, the University of Massachusetts has announced plans to move its president's office from One Beacon Street to new digs farther downtown, at 225 Franklin St. near Post Office Square. With its panoramic views and $1.1 million rent, the current 26th-floor office on Beacon Street -- originally leased by former president Billy Bulger -- had become a symbol of excess for Bulger's critics. Not that new president Jack Wilson is losing altitude: Though the new offices would be slightly smaller, the new lease would give him a perch on the top floor of the 33-story tower. Also on the top floor would be a new UMass alumni club, with an upscale dining room and an atmosphere described by a spokesman as ''comfortable" and ''first-rate." UMass expects the club to be self-sustaining, and leased by a separate corporation, with no state money involved. (Most UMass offices will be located on the building's less glamorous 12th floor.) Although the lease is still under negotiation, the university expects to save $250,000 in the first year after the move.

ON THE DOWN LOW: Harvard has been mum about how it is handling accusations against law professor Laurence Tribe, who a few weeks ago apologized for borrowing from another author's writing in a 19-year-old book. It's a notable contrast to how Harvard Law School dealt with the case of Charles Ogletree, who just weeks before Tribe, acknowledged lifting paragraphs from someone else's book. Dean Elena Kagan appointed former president Derek Bok and former dean Robert Clark to investigate, and then Ogletree published a long statement explaining the situation. Ogletree also said he faced some kind of sanction, although neither he nor school officials will say what it is. In Tribe's case, Harvard won't even say it is investigating, declaring in a statement that ''the university and the law school will consider this matter carefully and with the confidentiality we typically accord." Law school insiders speculate that the cases have been handled differently for two reasons. One is the question of whether the Tribe accusations are a political attack on a prominent liberal, because they surfaced in a conservative magazine so long after the book was published. The other is the delicate fact that Tribe has just been anointed a university professor at Harvard, a major honor shared by only 17 professors at the university -- which also means he reports directly to President Larry Summers, rather than Kagan.

BUT DOES HE GET A PLAQUE? UMass president Jack Wilson joined an elite group of technology lovers last week with his induction into the US Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame. Honored for his work as founding CEO of UMass Online and as cofounder at LearnLinc Corp., Wilson joins a list of about 30 ''pioneers" to receive the honor since the hall of fame was established five years ago. Wilson, who became UMass president a year ago, ''had an early understanding of what the online world could do for students," said John G. Flores, director of the Boston-based association. Among the other new inductees: Mary Beth Susman, founding CEO of Kentucky Virtual University, and A. Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

PENTAGON v. LAW SCHOOLS: Hidden in the defense authorization bill passed by Congress last weekend is a provision that adds more teeth to the Solomon Amendment, the law that denies federal funding to universities and law schools that ban military recruiters on campus because of the Pentagon's ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The move appears to have been requested by the Defense Department in response to a federal judge's contention last year that the department may be interpreting the Solomon Amendment too broadly. The new law specifies that a school must give military recruiters exactly the same access to students as any other recruiter, and adds new federal agencies to the list of departments whose funds would be withheld. Yet Boston College Law professor Kent Greenfield, who is leading a group of law schools and professors suing over the law, said the more restrictive the law gets, the better his case becomes. ''Ironically, this bolsters our case that the statute is unconstitutional, because it strengthens and worsens the Solomon Amendment," he said.

CLASS GIFT: When Boston public relations fixture Colette Phillips turned 50 a few weeks ago, she held a Caribbean-themed bash for 130 guests at the Four Seasons. The Emerson College alumna asked her friends to skip the gifts and instead contribute to a new scholarship fund in her name for low-income students at Emerson. ''At 50, what else do I want? More champagne glasses?" she said. ''The second half of my life should be about what I give to other people." Partygoers contributed $8,000, and Phillips will chip in $2,500. The fund will also benefit the Museum of Afro American History.

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