Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Robert Shireman, the deputy under secretary of education who led the Obama administration's efforts to overhaul the student loan programs and has spearheaded its increased scrutiny of for-profit higher education, will announce tomorrow that he is leaving his job July 1. Shireman's decision, which was confirmed by several people familiar with his situation, was expected in many ways; he had to be persuaded to return to Washington to join the administration and made clear from start that he would be a short timer. (His family has been entrenched in the San Francisco Bay area for years, and he was reluctant to have them pull up roots.) Shireman achieved his primary goal in coming to Washington: legislation enacted this spring to shift the origination of all federal student loans to the federal government's Direct Loan Program, which he played a role in creating and building in his previous jobs on Capitol Hill and in the Clinton White House. The legislation also expanded the income-based repayment program that Shireman helped create. So on those counts, the timing of his announcement makes sense. But it is likely to cause a stir nonetheless among Wall Street analysts, who have been watching his every move because of the Education Department's aggressive regulation of for-profit colleges. Shireman is expected to return to California with his wife and children.
More on Shireman's departure -- including the fact that word of his resignation drove up stock prices for publicly traded higher education companies -- on Inside Higher Ed tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Israeli authorities on Sunday barred Noam Chomsky, the linguistics scholar and political activist who has repeatedly criticized Israel, from entering the West Bank to give a lecture at Birzeit University, Reuters reported. Mustafa al-Barghouti, who had arranged the visit, called Israel's refusal to let Chomsky enter from Jordan "a fascist action, amounting to suppression of freedom of expression." The Associated Press reported that Israeli officials said late Sunday that "a misunderstanding" may have been responsible, and that he may be permitted to enter in time for him to give his talk, scheduled for today.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

TIAA-CREF is about to announce a major expansion into the endowment management business and has been recruiting money managers from colleges and universities as it prepares to launch, Bloomberg reported. Goldman Sachs is also planning an expanded focus on the market -- and these companies' interest comes at a time of considerable movement about endowment managers at colleges, the article said.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Seton Hall University's law school is sticking with plans to have New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as its graduation speaker -- over the objections of some alumni and faculty members, The Star-Ledger reported. Critics are angry that the new governor, a Republican, has announced plans to replace the only African American on the state's Supreme Court despite state tradition that governors generally reappoint justices.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Congress took a step Thursday toward disappointing education leaders who are hoping for another large injection of federal funds, even as the Obama administration stepped up its advocacy for such a boost. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $58.8 billion bill to provide emergency spending for the 2010 fiscal year, but despite pleas from the Congressional education committees and education groups, the legislation did not include any money to help states protect the jobs of schoolteachers and college employees. Also on Thursday, though, Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote Senate leaders urging them to include up to $23.3 billion for such purposes, in line with legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - 3:00am

It was a luxury that even Williams College can't afford anymore. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the highly selective liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts is closing its stand-alone club for alumni in New York City, one of a few such clubs that remain. "After nearly a century of serving our extended New York City community from our location on 24 East 39th Street, the Williams Club will cease its own clubhouse and hospitality operations," the head of the club's board wrote on its website.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Legislation aimed at strengthening federal support for academic research ran (at least temporarily) into a buzzsaw of Congressional concern Thursday over continuing expansion of the federal government. The measure, which would renew the America COMPETES law that set Congress on a path to double the budgets of the National Science Foundation and other federal physical sciences agencies, was sent back to the House of Representatives science committee after a majority of lawmakers bowed to Republican critiques that the bill would create too many new programs and authorize far too much federal spending. Democrats said they reluctantly pulled the bill before a final up or down vote. While Republicans raised substantive objections to the measure, they also flogged the NSF for failing to aggressively punish employees who had viewed pornography. “I’m disappointed that politics trumped good policy," said Rep. Bart Gordon, the Tennessee Democrat who heads the science panel. "The minority was willing to trade American jobs and our nation’s economic competitiveness for the chance to run a good political ad."

Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Some conservative groups are attacking Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court nominee, for her ties to Thurgood Marshall, for whom she was a law clerk on the Supreme Court. Among those defending Kagan is the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, which raises money for scholarships for students at public historically black colleges. Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the fund, issued this statement: "We, at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, are extremely supportive of Ms. Kagan’s nomination for a number of reasons; but two stand out as particularly meaningful – she served as a law clerk to Justice Marshall and she served on the Board of Directors of the college fund bearing Justice Marshall’s name. Ms. Kagan’s career has embodied the meaning and tradition of Thurgood Marshall’s life’s work to support the Constitutional mandate of inclusion and equal protection under the law for all Americans, particularly in higher education.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order to stop New York State from imposing a one day furlough next week on state workers, including those at the four-year institutions of the City University of New York and the State University of New York. The faculty unions of those two systems, along with other state employee unions, are suing to block the furloughs, arguing that they violate existing contractt and aren't necessary. A statement from Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the CUNY faculty union, said: "The furlough legislation was never about closing the budget gap. Furloughs were expected to produce $250 million in savings for the state -- yet the budget deficit is more than $9 billion. I hope the governor and the legislature will stop playing with people’s lives and get down to business."

Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Missouri lawmakers have approved an overhaul of state student aid programs that will provide more aid to students at public colleges and less to those at private institutions, the Associated Press reported. Currently the maximum grant under the Access Missouri grant is $4,600 a year for students at private institutions, $2,150 for students at public four-year colleges and $1,000 for those at community colleges. The idea was to provide a similar share of total sticker price at different kinds of colleges, but critics said more money should go to public higher education in tight budget times. Under the new limits, the maximum scholarship will be $1,300 for community college students and $2,850 for students at either public or private four-year institutions.

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