Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 11, 2009

In a move that is projected to save the institution nearly $60,000 annually, the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse is planning to eliminate its men’s tennis and baseball teams. The proposed cuts are part of a $400,000 trimming of the university’s operating budget. Before these teams can be eliminated, the university must get the approval of the members and leadership of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a nine-institution group within Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Joe Gow, La Crosse's president, called the move “one of the most difficult decisions [he has] ever had to make.” Nevertheless, he argued, “Our current financial constraints force us to confront the reality that in the future we will not be able to sustain our current range of sports programs.”

June 11, 2009

A coalition of science organizations has issued a call for reform of visa procedures that have made it difficult -- unnecessarily so, in the view of these groups -- for foreign students and scholars to get into the United States for study, research and teaching. The statement notes increasing concerns about delays growing, and praises recent steps by the Obama administration to deal with the problems. Going forward, the statement calls for a series of additional steps, including:

  • Streamlining the visa process for short-term visitors in science and technology.
  • Reducing the "repetitive processing" of visa applications by "well known researchers and scholars who regularly visit the United States."
  • Creating protocols "to make treatment of applicants more consistent."
  • Reconsidering the technologies that place subject areas on an alert list for special reviews of those seeking to work in those areas in the United States.
  • Renegotiating visa reciprocity agreements with other countries.

"Our nation needs a visa system that supports international exchange and cooperation," says the statement. "We are confident that it is possible to have a system that protects national security, and yet is still timely and transparent, provides for thorough reviews of applicants, and welcomes the finest talent. Scientific exchange and security are not mutually exclusive; to the contrary, they complement each other, and each is vital to the other."

Among the groups that organized the statement: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

June 11, 2009

For more than a year, Lambuth University has been experiencing severe financial problems, leading to turnover of key officials, a series of budget cuts, and late payrolls. The university is now in talks with Tennessee officials about becoming a public institution, The Jackson Sun reported. An appropriations bill before the Tennessee General Assembly would direct the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to study the feasibility of the state obtaining the facilities, property and assets of Lambuth. Among the issues a takeover would have to address: Lambuth is currently affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

June 10, 2009

Legislation that would provide the National Science Foundation with $6.9 billion and the National Institute of Standards and Technology with $510 million in 2010 advanced in the House of Representatives Tuesday. The full Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would increase funding significantly for several federal agencies that sponsor much of the country's scientific research, particularly in the physical sciences. But the panel also sliced hundreds of millions of dollars from the agencies' 2009 budgets and from President Obama's request for 2010, citing the availability of excess funds from previous years. Among the targets were NSF programs that fund research instrumentation and facilities at universities.

June 10, 2009

Tim Floyd resigned Tuesday as the men's basketball coach at the University of Southern California, as accusations continued to swirl that he broke rules in the recruitment of O.J. Mayo, who played one year at USC before bolting for the National Basketball Association in 2008. Floyd has denied the allegation that he paid $1,000 to an associate of Mayo referred to in news reports as his "handler," and his resignation letter said he had lost "enthusiasm" for the job. But in announcing his resignation, Southern California officials said that the university is "cooperating fully in the continuing investigation" into rules violations, and that "no conclusions have yet been reached."

June 10, 2009

Education organizations received $40.9 billion in donations in 2008, down about 5.5 percent from the previous year, according to "Giving USA," an annual report on charitable giving. Donations to all charitable organizations were down from individuals (always the largest source of gifts), bequests, corporations and foundations. For most colleges, these national figures will come as no surprise.

June 10, 2009

Faculty leaders at Florida Atlantic University are protesting a planned reorganization of the engineering college that will result in the layoffs of five tenured professors, The Palm Beach Post reported. The university says that there are educational and financial reasons to make the changes. But professors say that the reorganization is an excuse to get rid of tenured professors who would otherwise be protected from layoffs.

June 10, 2009

Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives education committee, is leaving the panel to take the same position on the House Armed Services Committee, creating a vacuum in his party at a time when the committee will be considering significant student loan and other legislation. Congress Daily reported. McKeon, whose central California district has numerous military installations, became chairman of what is now called the House Education and Labor Committee in 2006 and has served as its top Republican ever since. He has been an outspoken advocate for student loan providers, and is walking away from the committee at a time when it will play a central role in considering the Obama administration's controversial proposal to end the lender-based guaranteed loan program. Who will succeed him is likely to be a vexing issue for his party. The next most senior Republican, Rep. Thomas Petri of Wisconsin, is almost certainly off limits because he supports the competing direct loan program; other candidates, like Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware, are entertaining runs for governor and senator, respectively. Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and John Kline of Minnesota both told Congress Daily that they would seek to replace McKeon on the education committee.

June 10, 2009

Federal investigators have ended a probe of the closure of Decker College without bringing charges, the Associated Press reported. Decker was a for-profit college based in Louisville, with other campuses elsewhere, that shut suddenly in 2005, leaving many students angry over commitments they thought they had received from the college. Several probes were announced at the time into what had taken place.

June 9, 2009

Bonnie Ashley has apologized for the tone of her communications with staff members at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where David Ashley, her husband, is president, The Las Vegas Sun reported. “I don’t want this to be misconstrued as an apology for being a strong-minded woman, but rather to show an awareness that it must be exercised in a more temperate fashion,” she wrote in a memo to the Board of Regents in which she volunteered to relinquish her "hostessing role" until the university system determines what it wants from her. Among the e-mails that have recently been made public are ones in which she told some staffers "You all are paid way too much for me to have to put up with the constant problems I am dealing with, and it’s just wasting my time.” Another said: “I should not have to tell you this ... you do NOT argue with the first lady ... that behavior is completely unacceptable.” In December, another presidential spouse -- Carol Petersen -- was the center of a dispute over allegations over how she treated staff members at the University of Tennessee. Not long after, John Petersen quit as president.

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