Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of California at San Diego and the California Western School of Law have placed a "pause" on talks about merging the private law school into the university. Officials cited the budget crisis currently facing the University of California.
A deadly shooting stunned Southern Union State Community College, in Alabama, on Wednesday. The Opelika-Auburn News reported that Thomas F. May III returned to the campus at 6:45 p.m. and told reporters he was the man authorities were seeking. At around 4 p.m., a man opened fire on a minivan, killing one and injuring three others.
Legislators in Maryland gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that would ramp up regulation of for-profit colleges that operate in the state, phasing out financial aid to their students and imposing other restrictions, The Washington Examiner reported. Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign the legislation, Senate Bill 695.
The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday praised college financial aid officers (in a letter to their bosses, college and university presidents) for the relative ease with which their institutions handled what could have been a disruptive switch last year in how federal student loan funds are disbursed. "Your financial aid officers were able to quickly adapt and continued to seamlessly and effectively administer the financial aid programs on your respective campuses," William J. Taggart, chief operating officer of the Federal Student Aid office, wrote. "Their dedication and professionalism throughout this period is commendable." He closed by urging the presidents to "provide your financial aid offices with the necessary support" to enable them to continue to do their jobs effectively.
The Battle of Wisconsin rages on. With the University of Wisconsin System's Board of Regents set to meet Thursday to hear a proposal for greater flexibility for all of the system's campuses, the chancellor of Wisconsin's flagship campus at Madison urged the university's supporters to lobby for its own autonomy plan over the system's proposal. In a letter to the Madison campus, Chancellor Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin said that the system's Wisconsin Idea Partnership "does not come close to doing for UW-Madison what public-authority status would," and that it is time for them to "express [their] support more openly and visibly." She asked them to ask legislators for their support, and to speak out "as individuals, citizens and taxpayers, and not on behalf of the university."
David Protess, a leading journalism professor at Northwestern University known for his work investigating wrongfully convicted individuals, has been in a high-profile dispute with the institution, which suspended his teaching duties this semester. Protess and his supporters have accused the university of failing to protect his rights as law enforcement officials have questioned his tactics. But on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported, Northwestern officials told faculty members that Protess had doctored records and lied repeatedly to the journalism dean.
Frank Trocki announced Tuesday that he would resign as chancellor of Montana State University-Northern, The Havre Daily News reported. Trocki is in his second year in office. The announcement came after the president of Montana State University called off two searches for administrators at Northern, saying that the university needed to review whether the searches were marred by procedural errors.
The top recipient of federal student aid in Virginia is Liberty University, which last year took in $445 million in such funds, largely because of the rapid growth of Liberty's online programs, The News & Advance reported. While Liberty has 12,000 residential students, it now has 52,000 online students. The news has prompted considerable online commentary about the flow of funds to Liberty at a time that conservative lawmakers are trying to cut Pell Grants and other programs. Salon noted that Liberty received more federal funds last year than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.