A survey by the Health Research Alliance of nongovernmental funders of health research and training (much of which takes place at universities) has found the following impacts of the economic downturn: 63 percent of funders are decreasing the number of awards, either by decreasing the number of awards granted per funding cycle for a given grant program and/or placing entire grant programs on hiatus for at least one funding cycle; 31 percent are delaying consideration of new initiatives or multi-year obligations for at least a year; 22 percent are decreasing the average amount of new awards; and 22 percent are making percentage reductions to the payment of existing grants.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Association of University Professors issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is "gravely concerned about state sponsored or state encouraged violence in Iran," which "has the potential to undermine further the already fragile status of academic freedom in Iranian universities." The statement added: "As an association devoted to the protection and expansion of free expression on university campuses, the AAUP supports the right of students and faculty to express their views of public events and national policy without fear of intimidation, arrest, or physical harm."
A new report, "Setting Up Success in Developmental Education," explores how state policies influence the chances of getting more students into college-level work at community colleges. The report, released Tuesday by Jobs for the Future, looks in details at approaches in 15 states, focusing on four issues: how to align standards to minimize the need for remedial work, how to assess students and place them in courses, how to evaluate innovations, and how to use incentives in measuring performance.
Harvard University on Tuesday started the process of eliminating the jobs of 275 staff members, The Boston Globe reported. While many other universities have eliminated even more positions, the layoffs at Harvard -- which has a larger endowment than any other university, even after the declines of the last year -- are likely to receive more media attention than those at other institutions. The Globe article includes links to letters from Drew Faust, Harvard's president, and Marilyn Hausammann, the vice president for human resources. Beyond those losing jobs, an additional 40 staff members will be offered positions with reduced hours.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Tuesday that would provide $161.3 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, less than the $170 million that the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee would provide for the 2010 fiscal year in parallel legislation it passed last week. The endowments are receiving $155 million in the current, 2009 fiscal year, and President Obama proposed spending $171.5 million on the NEH and $161.3 million on the NEA.
LIberty University, which has been under criticism for denying recognition to a campus Democratic group, on Monday announced a new policy on political clubs that will treat Democrats and Republicans the same way. Under the new policy, both the Democratic and Republican clubs will be "unofficial," although they can use the university's name and meet on campus, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported. If these unofficial clubs endorse candidates who differ from the university's Christian views, they may not use university facilities for activities on behalf of these candidates. Student Democrats said that they were pleased to be on equal footing with the Republicans.
Just days after DePaul University ousted a popular law dean in a dispute over how much of the law school's budget should be shared with the university, an associate dean has quit to protest the way the interim dean was selected without faculty involvement. The Chicago Tribune reported on an e-mail sent by Stephen Siegel, the associate dean, following the selection of Warren Wolfson, an Illinois judge, to serve as interim dean for two years. The e-mail from Siegel said: "In my 37 years of service to DePaul I have served under 5 deans. (I'm not counting interim and acting deans.) Four of them were replaced mid-term.... But every previous time, the university turned to the faculty with expectation and trust that we would step into the breach -- and we did, superbly, working cooperatively to bring the best out of the situation. This time, although we have the most talented and prestigious collection of faculty we ever have had -- we have effectively been put into a two year receivership -- with no consultation, dialogue, trust."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday vetoed House Bill 103, which would have made Texas the first state to require its high-enrollment colleges – those with 20,000 or more students – to bill students’ private insurance for care they receive at campus health centers. The bill had passed relatively effortlessly through the Texas Legislature, by votes of 143-4 in the House and 27-4 in the State Senate, with supporters saying the measure would bring in significant revenue by tapping into the private insurance plans that 70 percent of Texas students bring with them to campus. In listing his objections, Perry said the bill “would likely increase health service costs for college students and their families without increasing the level of service or care.” The governor pointed out, as have other critics of HB 103, that colleges already have the power to bill students’ private insurance plans, but most choose not to because of efficiency issues and the potential for raised cost to students.
The Arizona Legislature has voted to place on the 2010 state ballot a proposal to bar state agencies -- including public colleges and universities -- from considering race, ethnicity and gender in decisions such as admissions and hiring, The East Valley Tribune reported. Last year, groups backing a similar proposal tried to place the item on the state ballot by citizen petition, but failed to turn in enough signatures. While some state proposals to bar the consideration of race in admissions have focused on undergraduate admissions, the biggest impact of such a measure in Arizona would likely be on graduate and professional school admissions, and on some financial aid programs.
LANSDOWNE, Va. -- The higher education pipeline in 16 southern states is filled with the very students who historically have had the most difficulty graduating from college, the Southern Regional Education Board reported at its meeting here Monday. Hispanic students in the South, 43 percent of whom graduate from college in six years, will make up 31 percent of the region's public high school graduates in 2022, more than doubling their presence in the pool of students potentially headed to college, according to the 2009 SREB Fact Book on Higher Education publicly released today. White students, who have the region's highest graduation rate -- 56 percent -- will be increasingly less represented in the high school graduate population, falling 17 percentage points to 43 percent of the cohort. Black students, who have a 40 percent graduation rate, are expected to decline slightly as a proportion of the region's high school graduates, falling 3 percentage points in 2022 to 20 percent of the cohort. In other news at the conference, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was elected chair of the SREB, succeeding Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia.