The U.S. military academies reported a surge in applications this year, The New York Times reported. Many colleges that are relatively inexpensive or that offer generous financial aid reported application increases this year, and the military academies are free. But they also have military service requirements after graduation that represent a more lasting and serious commitment than most students must make when selecting a college. Still, the Naval Academy reported an application increase of 40 percent, while applications were up just under 10 percent at the Military Academy and the Air Force Academy.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of California at Davis has agreed to add a women's varsity field hockey team and also to add more money to develop club sports, under a settlement of a lawsuit filed by female athletes charging violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, The Sacramento Bee reported. University officials said that they didn't think the suit was needed, but that they were happy to reach an agreement to resolve it.
Illinois College is the latest institution to announce that it will no longer require ACT or SAT scores of all applicants. The requirement will remain in place for home-schooled or international students.
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.
Faculty and staff at the University of California could face a salary cut of 8 percent, 21 days of unpaid furloughs, or a combination of pay cuts and furloughs in 2010, under a proposal made by the president of the university system Wednesday. In a letter and memorandum sent to all employees of the 10-campus system and obtained by Inside Higher Ed, President Mark G. Yudof said that the "unprecedented challenges" facing the university -- a deficit of nearly $800 million in the current and next fiscal years -- would require $195 million in pay reductions, on top of $211 million generated through tuition increases and about $400 million that would fall to individual campuses to save through program and other reductions. The systemwide cut would be accomplished, Yudof wrote, either through an 8 percent salary decrease from August 2009 through July 2010 (4 percent for those earning under $46,000), 21 days of unpaid holidays and scheduled furloughs (slightly fewer for those who work only during the academic year and for those earning under $46,000), or 12 unpaid days and a 3.4 percent salary decrease. Yudof said university leaders would decide on one option to present to UC's Board of Regents in July.
Congress could formally begin its work on President Obama's proposal to restructure the student loan programs to free up money for Pell Grants and other financial aid as soon as next week, with the House of Representatives scheduled to mark up legislation that (by most accounts) would end all loan originations out of the lender-based Family Federal Education Loan Program but would not call for providing a consistent, permanent source of funding for Pell Grants. With that major development looming, the U.S. Education Department made an announcement Wednesday that could help lay the groundwork for the larger changes. The administration said that four lenders had emerged from a months-long competition to see who would "service" the existing portfolio of federal student loans, but the competition was also seen as a step toward testing the department's plan (as part of its larger loan proposal) to have lenders compete for "performance-based contracts" to service all federal loans when the FFEL Program vanishes. The four lenders that won the department's competition were AES/PHEAA, Great Lakes Education Loan Services, Inc., Nelnet, Inc., and Sallie Mae Corporation. The competition was controversial in part because the department limited it to lenders of a certain size, freezing out smaller nonprofit and other lenders.
Two weeks ago the Internal Revenue Service raised the hopes of many campus business officers by suggesting ways it might relax federal rules governing how employers must account for usage of cell phones they provide to workers, regulations that have proved vexing (and expensive) in some federal audits of colleges and universities. But Tuesday it went even further, as Commissioner Doug Shulman announced that the agency would no longer consider employees' use of employer-provided cell phones to be a taxable benefit. "Secretary Geithner and I ask that Congress act to make clear that there will be no tax consequence to employers or employees for personal use of work-related devices such as cell phones provided by employers," Shulman said. "The passage of time, advances in technology, and the nature of communication in the modern workplace have rendered this law obsolete." (Hat tip to TaxProf Blog.)
More than 20 percent of medical schools showed improvement in the PharmFree Scorecard, released Tuesday for 2009, which judges medical schools on how well they prevent conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry. The project is run by the American Medical Student Association, which says that it sees plenty of room for improvement. Of the 149 medical schools in the United States, 9 received an A grade, 36 a B, 18 a C, 17 a D, and 35 an F. Other medical schools received an "in process" grade as policies are currently being reviewed. Two of this year's A grades -- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Mayo Medical School -- improved from Ds a year ago.
The chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, whose own term is due to end this month, recommended to the system's regents Tuesday that they fire David Ashley, president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The letter from Chancellor James E. Rogers to the members of the Board of Regents, recommended that "Dr. Ashley's contract not be renewed and that you consider immediate termination of the contract as president.... [T]he problems that have become the subject of much media attention recently are the problems that I long ago asked him and expected him to correct." Ashley's performance has been the subject of significant news coverage and he returned from a trip to Singapore last week amid rumors that he would resign.
Rep. John Kline of Minnesota is the front runner to be chosen today as the top Republican on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, CongressDaily reported. Kline, whose 2nd Congressional District contains St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, would succeed Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, who gave up his spot on the education panel to be the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Kline, a former Marine, is a reliably conservative member of his party.