Vice President Biden heralded the work of research universities at a round table Tuesday on the impact that federal stimulus funds have had in promoting job growth and economic competitiveness. At the start of the discussion, most of which was closed to reporters, Biden described research spending as “among the most critical parts” of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, and said criticism of federal spending on research was shortsighted -- and out of step with the view in competitive countries such as China and India. “Our economic future will grow from ideas that are incubating at universities. That’s the breeding ground and it always has been," he said, surrounded by presidents from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Washington State Universities and the Universities of California, Florida and Pennsylvania. “The rest of the world gets this, and we can’t afford to lag behind,” he said. “We cannot afford to not rededicate ourselves to the work you guys around the table do.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
As the U.S. Senate appeared poised to move ahead on a defense spending bill, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to ask that they push for the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children and went on to postsecondary education or military service. In his letter, Duncan said the act would "stop the punishment of innocent young people for the actions of their parents, and give them the chance to earn their legal status." The act, he added, would "play an important part in our efforts to meet the Administration's goals of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020." Dozens of college presidents have spoken out in favor of the DREAM Act in recent months.
President Obama last week voiced his support for Congress to pass the DREAM Act as a standalone measure, after Reid and other Democrats made clear that they wanted action on it before November's Congressional elections. But motion stalled Tuesday afternoon as Republicans and some Democrats voted to continue debate on the bill, which Reid has said he plans to also amend with language that would repeal the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy pertaining to the military's treatment of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. The DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001.
It may seem a daunting, if not impossible, task to get the United States to the widely heralded goal of a nearly 50 percent increase in the college attainment of its citizens -- but the Lumina Foundation for Education aims, in a new report, to break the job down into smaller pieces to show that it is attainable. In the report, published today, Lumina goes beyond reiterating its arguments for why the "big goal" it has set is essential for the United States economy and for individuals alike, though the study does that, too. But in providing state-by-state (and even county-by-county) data on how many graduates a particular area would need to produce if the national target is to be met, Lumina seeks to break the job down into practical, tangible goals. Even at that level, the data show just how far the country has to go, Lumina says: "If the current rate of increase remains, less than 47 percent of Americans will hold a two- or four-year degree by 2025. Economic experts say this is far below the level that can keep the nation competitive in the global, knowledge-based economy."
The ACT and the College Board have long noted that those who take strong college preparatory courses do better on the ACT and SAT, and in college. New research from ACT on Monday notes that when minority and low-income students take a college preparatory core, not only do they do better, but the average gaps between them and other students shrink.
The U.S. Education Department has awarded grants to 17 colleges in 12 states to help them create or expand campuswide emergency management plans or programs. The recipients are: Auburn University ($708,471), Case Western Reserve University ($568,090), Clark College in Washington ($744,402), College of Southern Nevada ($756,474), Colleges of the Fenway ($512,081), Cornell University ($587,684), Indiana University ($642,847), Joliet Junior College ($521,787), Milwaukee Area Technical College ($791,439), Missouri Southern State University ($401,981), Pikes Peak Community College ($476,355), Purdue University-Calumet ($486,281), Sullivan County Community College ($284,435), Tufts University ($503,138), University of St. Thomas ($245,694), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ($499,252), and Western Washington University ($512,742).
Ohio University has apologized to Ohio State University for an attack by the former's mascot on the latter's prior to a football face-off Saturday. The student who was the Ohio U. mascot has also been banned from any role with athletics. Video and commentary from Bucknuts show the Ohio mascot charging across the field in a first attack and then following up in the end zone.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday sued Chapman University, charging that it denied tenure to a faculty member because she is black, OC Weekly reported. The suit notes the positive reviews the faculty member received -- and that less qualified colleagues did receive tenure during the same period. Chapman officials said that they hadn't yet seen the suit and so could not comment on it.
The National Association of Scholars in June released a report criticizing the selections colleges make for common reading assignments for freshmen, charging that colleges favor the multicultural and politically correct over the timeless ideals that have helped to build Western civilization. Many academics criticized the association's critique, saying that it oversimplified the book selections and didn't reflect the actual goals behind these reading programs. For instance, many colleges said that the association was correct in identifying a preference for living authors -- and that colleges leaned that way because they saw value in inviting those authors to campus to meet students. On Friday, the association released a list of 37 of its suggestions for books that would be good to use for common reading programs for freshmen. Dead white men do dominate the list -- with William Shakespeare getting three slots (for Julius Caesar, Richard III and Henry V). The association also recommends Augustine's Confessions, James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, and Voltaire's Candide, not to mention classics by the likes of Plato and Plutarch. But those expecting only works by dead white men may be surprised to find books by a living white man (Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff); a living African author (Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart); a dead white woman (Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop); and authors who are very much a part of the African-American and American canons (Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God).
Pennsylvania State University on Friday announced its largest gift ever -- $88 million that will finance the construction of a hockey arena and the creation of a Division I men's hockey team. The university also will create a Division I women's hockey team.
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is getting a lot of questions about why it called off the scheduled broadcast premiere of a documentary, "Troubled Waters," which is about the Mississippi River and produced by the university's natural history museum, The Star Tribune reported. University officials say that they delayed the broadcast -- which was to have taken place on the Twin Cities public television station next month -- so that faculty members could review the documentary for possible issues of accuracy and balance. But those involved in the documentary say that it was fact-checked thoroughly. Parts of the documentary focus on environmental problems created by chemicals used by farms -- and that material is expected to be controversial.