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Higher Ed in the News

Debate surrounding professors working for BP

July 21, 2010

News of BP's efforts to secure the consulting services of university faculty spread rapidly over the weekend, following a report in the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., that provided details from contracts being offered to scientists. The newspaper said it obtained a copy of such a contract, noting that the agreement restricted consultants from discussing or publishing their research for at least the next three years.

A number of professors have backed out of their agreements with BP in recent weeks, several administrators told Inside Higher Ed on Monday.

At a time when many have accused BP of down-playing the extent of the oil spill's impact, many denounced the notion of professors gathering potentially damaging data for the company and letting BP sit on the information for years.

The oil company's overtures to faculty have placed public universities in a particularly difficult position.

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