A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed legislation Wednesday that would prohibit the promotion of any post-season National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I contest “as a national championship game unless such game is the culmination of a fair and equitable playoff system.” The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, passed the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection by a voice vote. According to an Associated Press account of the vote, only Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Georgia dissented. The Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) crowns its champion following a 16-team playoff, whose title game is next week, putting it in compliance with the legislation. The Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), however, crowns its champion via the Bowl Championship Series, an arrangement among the wealthier conferences in the subdivision, whick picks two teams to play in a title game. Republican Sen. Orin Hatch brought Congressional attention to the controversy surrounding the BCS this summer, when he pushed the Justice Department to investigate it for antitrust violations at a packed Senate subcommittee hearing. To date, no action has been taken on Hatch’s request. Of the latest attempt by Congress to force college football to accept a playoff system, Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, did not mince words, saying in a statement before the House subcommittee vote, “With all the serious matters facing our country, surely Congress has more important issues than spending taxpayer money to dictate how college football is played.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
New research has found that British universities favor research over teaching when evaluating candidates for promotion, The Times Higher reported. In many cases, the research found that universities don't even consider teaching in a substantial way or document how it is evaluated.
Students took over a building at San Francisco State University Wednesday morning and have held several days of non-disruptive protests at the University of California this week, the Associated Press reported. The protests are over both budget cuts and tuition increases (called fee increases in California).
Three students started a hunger strike at Vassar College Tuesday, while other students organized a sing-in -- all designed to get the institution to reverse a decision to eliminate the jobs of 13 staff members, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported. The students say that the jobs can be preserved. College officials said that staffing reductions are necessary due to endowment losses, and that those whose positions are being eliminated have received first chance at other jobs that have opened up.
Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary, its neighbor in St. Louis, announced an agreement Wednesday that is designed to dramatically step up the collaboration between the two institutions. Under the arrangement, Webster will pay Eden $5.3 million in exchange for a 5.5 acre parcel of land and three buildings, including its library. The seminary's holdings will then be integrated into Webster's library, to which Eden students and employees will have access. Webster will also lease Eden's athletics fields and, in exchange, give seminary students and staff access to its fitness center. Many religious seminaries have faced increasing financial stress in recent years, and Eden was among the postsecondary institutions that received letters last year after failing on a series of measures designed to gauge financial health.
Princeton Review said Tuesday that it had completed its $170 million takeover of Penn Foster Education Group, which provides career training and administers an online high school. The transaction, which was announced in October, will double the testing company's revenues and mark its entrance in the growing career education market.
With about 200 protesting workers in attendance, and facing charges of allowing wasteful spending, the board of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District on Tuesday backed off a layoff plan that would have cost more than 100 jobs, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Board members have cited the terrible budget situation in California to justify the layoffs, but critics have noted that the district's outgoing chancellor was found to have charged the district for travel to El Salvador and Scotland, raising questions about whether available funds have been used effectively.
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Northeastern University will today announce an adjustment to its famous co-op program -- in which students mix extended semesters in a work environment along with traditional coursework -- that will allow students to complete the program in four years instead of five, The Boston Globe reported. Students in the four-year program will take some courses online and will have two six-month work experiences instead of three. Northeastern officials cited student demand as the reason for creating the new option.
The University of Oxford has announced new procedures for electing its prized professorship in poetry, The Guardian reported. All 300,000 Oxford graduates are entitled to vote, but until now, they had to show up at a specified time and place to do so, limiting participation. Under the new rules, people will be able to vote in person or online -- and over a longer time period. The shift follows a particularly divisive vote, but observers are split on whether the new process will encourage more civility in the selection process.