The University of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved the merger of Baltimore Hebrew University, which operates small graduate programs to train teachers for Jewish schools, into Towson University, The Baltimore Sun reported. Baltimore Hebrew has been supported by Jewish philanthropy, but is not affiliated with any Jewish denomination.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Brian Diaz, president of Liberty University's now banned College Democrats, has quit his position and announced that he plans to tranfer to another college -- one where Democratic organizations are permitted, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported. Diaz said that he wanted to attend “an institution that fosters diversity within its student body.” Liberty has said that it cannot recognize organizations that back candidates who favor abortion rights or other stances that conflict with the university's religious beliefs.
Like community colleges throughout California, City College of San Francisco is facing such deep budget cuts that it is planning to eliminate hundreds of courses and sections. So the college is offering donors the ability to save a course -- and have the course named for them -- for $6,000, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Currently, about 800 classes are slated to be canceled. There are so many classes being killed that the newspaper reported that potential donors have lots of options, including traditional introductory courses in fields such as biology and French, practical courses in fields such as accounting, and electives such as Psychology of Shyness and Self-Esteem and Advanced Kung Fu.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MDC Inc. are today announcing $16.5 million in grants to 15 community colleges in 6 states to expand remedial education efforts that appear to be having significantly more success than the norm. More than 133,000 students take remedial courses at the colleges involved and the rate at which students move from remedial to college-level work went from 16 to 20 percent for those involved. The strategies involve the use of technology to teach basic skills, mentorships and better coordination between high schools and community colleges. The five states and their participating colleges are: Connecticut (Housatonic Community College and Norwalk Community College); Florida (Valencia Community College); North Carolina (Guilford Technical Community College); Ohio (Cuyahoga Community College, Jefferson Community College, North Central State College, Sinclair Community College and Zane State College); Texas (Coastal Bend College, El Paso Community College, Houston Community College and South Texas College); and Virginia (Danville Community College and Patrick Henry Community College).
DePaul University has removed Glen Weissenberger as dean of the law school -- amid a dispute over the law school's financial contributions to the university, according to the Chicago Tribune. Weissenberger lost his job (but will remain on the faculty) after he complained to the American Bar Association about what he saw as the university's disregard for an agreement under which the law school gets to keep 75 percent of its net tuition revenues. The university said that the law school is getting to keep that revenue, and that the decision to remove the dean came before the letter was sent to the ABA. Students have started an online petition to demand the reinstatement of Weissenberger as the dean.
Examples continue to materialize of ways in which the University of Illinois altered normal admissions processes on behalf of politically connected applicants, according to two new articles in the Chicago Tribune. One article reported on nearly 100 instances in which trustees intervened on behalf of individual applicants. The other article looked at medical school admissions, finding that generally the medical admissions officers managed to fight off the pressure. But in one case, in which the applicant never enrolled, the medical school agreed under pressure to admit a student with low undergraduate grades if he could raise his scores on the Medical College Admission Test to a better but "not a spectacular" level.
University of California leaders issued an unusually harsh letter about the Board of Regents Wednesday, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The letter charges that the regents have been meeting only every other month -- even as the university system faces a severe budget crisis. The letter noted the likely long-term impact of the university's failure to contribute to a retirement fund as it has in the past -- even as the stock market drop has decreased the value of the fund. While board leaders were traveling, others noted that the university's president's office was in constant touch with campuses about how to deal with the budget situation.
Federal investigators have sent subpoenas to the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University and Northern Illinois University to try to determine whether ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich or his allies sought favors on behalf of applicants for admission, the Chicago Tribune reported. The inquiry is the latest escalation of a scandal involving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which was revealed by the Tribune to have operated a special admissions system for politically connected applicants. The Tribune also has a new report out about some of the students admitted because of their clout.
The Education Department acknowledged last week that its Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education would have insufficient funds in its 2009 budget to hold its normal "open" competition for innovative projects, partly because Congress had crammed other projects onto the program's agenda. On Thursday, the department announced competitions for two lawmaker-dictated priorities: one to expand graduate-level academic offerings at colleges with large numbers of Hispanic students, and one to identify innovative ways to help students rent textbooks and other course materials.
President Obama will soon announce a plan for a major increase in support for community colleges, with the goal of promoting job training programs, the Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper quoted Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, as telling the Democratic Leadership Council on Wednesday that "in the next couple of weeks, you will see a major announcement by the president on community colleges and job training and the rewriting of all the legislation related to job training and community ed. in the country -- but, most importantly, in the area of community colleges." Emanuel said that the goal of the proposal will be to enable community colleges to help five million more workers than they would be able to otherwise.