Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 3, 2009

Arizona State University hopes to create a set of lower-priced, undergraduate colleges around the state aimed at commuters and offering the option of three-year degrees, The Arizona Republic reported. University officials detailed their plans -- which they will present to the Arizona Board of Regents Thursday, along with proposals from other universities in the state -- for from 5 to 15 campuses that would offer degrees in a small number of high-demand fields such as education, criminology, and communications. Tuition would be set at the amount of the maximum Pell Grant, Arizona State officials told the Republic, with startup costs for the first campus, envisioned for suburban Phoenix, estimated at $4.5 million to $6 million. Arizona is considering numerous options for cutting what students pay for higher education, including letting more students go to community colleges for three years and enrolling at costlier universities only for the fourth year.

August 3, 2009

A federal jury on Friday ordered Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student, to pay $675,000 to four music labels for downloading and sharing music online, The Boston Globe reported. Tenenbaum never denied sharing the music online and the judge ruled that his admission of doing so required a verdict in favor of the music companies, leaving the main question to be the size of damages (which could have been much greater). While record companies have threatened legal action many times over the downloading issue, many times focusing on colleges and their students, this is only the second case against an individual to have gone to trial.

August 3, 2009

Last month, Marshall Drummond somewhat mysteriously left the chancellorship of the Los Angeles Community College District, announcing that he and the board had mutually agreed on the move. Drummond was in his second tenure in the job, having left in 2004 to lead the statewide community college system, but returning in 2007 to what he called the job he was really drawn to. It's still not clear why he left, but the Los Angeles Times reported on his settlement: $428,750 (over 19 months) and lifetime health insurance.

August 3, 2009

The New Jersey Institute of Technology and its alumni association will be in court this month in a dispute over the use of the institution's name, the Associated Press reported. The two entities have been fighting since 2001, when the university tore down an alumni center to build a new student center. In 2008, NJIT told the association that it was being replaced with a new group, and that led the alumni to sue.

August 3, 2009

Old Dominion University officials are denying any conflict of interest in hiring a state legislator -- whose amendment created the Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership at the university -- to run it, The Virginian-Pilot reported. The newspaper, which reported on the situation, prompting criticism of the hire, said that university leaders said the lawmaker was hired on the basis of his qualifications, not his connections.

July 31, 2009

The head of a committee examining the University of Illinois admissions controversy is expected to call today for all of the university's current trustees to step aside, The Chicago Tribune reported. Abner Mikva, a former federal judge, said he would urge the panel to recommend a mass resignation when the committee meets to draft its report. The former chairman of the Board of Trustees, who is among those who sought special consideration for politically connected applicants to the university, resigned this week and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct an error.)

July 31, 2009

About 130,000 college students in Illinois won't receive state financial aid grants this year because the state moved up its deadline for applications because of the economy, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some students lose out on aid every year, in Illinois and elsewhere, because they miss the deadline for applying, but this year's total is the most in history because the cutoff is months earlier than normal; it was moved up because the state aid budget is about half its normal size. The hardest hit students, the newspaper reported, are returning adult students and applicants from community colleges, another trend likely to be replicated elsewhere.

July 31, 2009

The American Council on Education will delay salary increases for six months, offer "early exit" packages to employees, and cut spending by 10-15 percent for some programs in the 2010 fiscal year, to weather an expected decline in revenues and shift money to key priorities of President Molly Corbett Broad, association officials told employees Thursday. Many higher education groups have, like their member colleges, been buffeted by the economy, with some cutting employees, an Inside Higher Ed survey found this week. Comparatively, ACE, higher education's main lobbying group, is in solid shape; no one will be laid off, and in fact the association expects flat spending or even a modest increase in 2010. But to focus more attention on ACE activities related to veterans, adult education, and GED completion, which Broad is emphasizing, some programs -- as yet unidentified -- will lose some funds, ACE officials said. Two employees have taken advantage of the early departure program. The council's highly visible government relations work will be unaffected by the changes.

July 31, 2009

Sallie Mae spent nearly $2 million in the first half of 2009 on federal lobbying at a time when Congress and the Obama administration are contemplating a radical restructuring of the student loan programs, the Huffington Post reported. The article, a product of the Web site's fledgling investigative fund, said that Sallie Mae hired a who's who of Washington lobbyists to fight the Obama administration's plan to end lending through the guaranteed loan program that Sallie Mae has dominated, and to push an alternative proposal that faces an uphill climb in Congress.

July 31, 2009

Citing the state’s severe budget problems, the University of California at Irvine announced that it will cut its men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s rowing, and sailing teams. The institution expects to save nearly $1 million as a result of the cuts. Mike Izzi, Irvine athletics director, said, “I was hoping to avoid discontinuing any of our sports programs, but the athletics department is not immune to the cuts that are occurring in the state and on our campus.”

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