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Quick Takes: UMass Faculty Vote No Confidence, Shunning the Financial Aid Meeting?, More Scrutiny for Sallie Mae Chairman, College and Alcoholism, First Men at Randolph College, Concealed Weapons Ban in Neb., Accreditor Restricted, Tuition Veto in Fla.

May 25, 2007
  • Professors and librarians at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst voted no confidence Thursday in the university system's president, Jack Wilson, and the Board of Trustees, The Boston Globe reported. Amherst faculty members are angry over a system reorganization on which they were not consulted and under which their chancellor will retire in a year, with many of his duties going to Wilson. The chancellor is John V. Lombardi, who has been credited by professors for leading improvements in the university's quality and ambitions. (Lombardi is also a columnist and blogger for Inside Higher Ed.) A spokeswoman for Wilson issued a statement late Thursday, saying that he "takes the Amherst faculty's message very seriously and will do everything that he can to rebuild their trust."
  • The U.S. Education Department is sharply cutting back its participation in July's annual meeting of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, citing strains on its resources. That explanation isn't ringing particularly true with campus financial aid officers, since the meeting is in Washington, presumably a cab ride away for the various department officials who were scheduled to lead training sessions that many campus aid officials count on each year. Department officials plan to hold just one "general session update," instead of the 10 specific sessions (on various student aid programs, regulatory changes, etc.) that federal officials were scheduled to lead. Financial aid officials are particularly upset that department officials are withdrawing at a time that the government is proposing significant changes in federal rules governing the student loan programs, and when aid officers could benefit from department guidance.
  • Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is turning up his scrutiny of the sale of stock by Sallie Mae's chairman, Al Lord, a few days before President Bush proposed major cuts in lender subsidies in his 2008 budget in February. Miller and Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, had requested information about the stock sale from the student loan company in February, and Miller said Thursday that that request had turned up internal Sallie Mae strategy documents showing that the company's lobbyists sought information about the president's budget before it was released. In a new letter sent to Lord on Thursday, Miller asked the loan company's chairman for all documents related to his role in the "development and implementation of the outlined strategy."
  • A new study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that attending college may exacerbate innate predispositions of some people to become heavy alcohol users, Live Science reported. The study was based on comparing the drinking levels of siblings and found that those who did not go to college drank more in high school than those who would go on. But while in college, the siblings drank more than their siblings when they were at traditional college-going ages.
  • Randolph-Macon Woman's College, which is about to change its name to Randolph College as part of becoming a coeducational institution, had a good recruiting year for male students. WDBJ7 News reported that this fall's class of 172 will include 57 men, more than twice the male enrollment expected.
  • Nebraska legislators voted Thursday to formally bar concealed weapons from college campuses, the Associated Press reported. A law passed last year to allow the carrying of concealed weapons generally in the state said that they could not be carried at schools, but legislators added colleges because the attorney general said that they were not covered by the reference to schools.
  • Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has upheld a recommendation by a federal advisory panel on accreditation that the American Academy for Liberal Education be restricted from approving new institutions until it shows it has clear standards for measuring student learning outcomes. The secretary's decision came in a letter to officials at the small agency last month.
  • Florida's governor vetoed a 5-percent across-the-board tuition increase for the state's colleges and a plan to let three universities raise rates by significantly more, part of a record series of cuts from the state budget, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, said the cuts, which included the slashing of numerous projects for community colleges and universities, were necessary for the state to set a good example for frugality.
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