In at least one way, this unusual admissions year is proving to be normal: For all the talk about how application surges would make it difficult to find spots, there are still plenty of colleges (at least 258 of them) that still have openings for the fall, and most of them still have financial aid, housing, and spaces for both freshmen and transfer students. The 258 figure comes from the annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which surveys its members annually to find out which institutions still have spots after May 1. Most of the institutions responding that they have space available are private. More colleges had open space the last two years (292 in 2007 and 295 in 2008), but this year's total is exactly the same as that of 2005 and one higher than the total for 2006.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Graduate teaching assistants have voted to unionize, in locals affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, at Central Michigan University and Florida State University. (The latter unit is also affiliated with the National Education Association.) The votes were overwhelming at both campuses: 152-21 at Central Michigan and 448-140 at Florida State. At Central Michigan, the vote followed lobbying by the university against the union, and a push back by union leaders -- backed by state politicians.
Last month, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York named Laura L. Anglin -- New York State's budget director -- as its next president. Anglin takes office in July at CICU, which has historically been an influential player in Albany with work on behalf of the state's private colleges. On Monday, the Student Assembly of the State University of New York offered a welcome of sorts to Anglin -- in the form of an ethics complaint filed with the state public integrity division. The SUNY student group argues that holding the job of budget director while interviewing for the CICU job was a conflict of interest because the state has programs that assist private colleges and their students. Anglin, in a statement, responded: "The complaint filed by the Student Assembly of the State University of New York has no basis in fact. As a public servant for many years, I am clearly aware of my responsibilities under the state ethics laws. Throughout the budget process, I took the utmost precautions to ensure that I had met the requirements of the public officers law, both in spirit and in letter."
Trustees of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion announced a plan Tuesday that would keep open all three American campuses of the institution, the seminary and primary educational institution of Reform Judaism, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Earlier plans suggested that only one campus might remain of those currently in Cincinnati, Los Angeles and New York. The new plan would require fund raising and some restructuring, so it is not yet considered a done deal.
The Wall Street Journal is publishing 10 essays by college presidents -- with the topics coming from their institutions' essay questions for applicants. So if you always wanted to know the person who has most influenced the lives of the presidents of Grinnell, Oberlin, or Vassar Colleges, or Wesleyan University; or how Barnard College's president thinks about the daily routine, or how Reed College's president experienced diversity, this is your chance. The presidents had to pledge to write the essays themselves.
A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the University of Colorado Board of Regents' ban on carrying concealed weapons on the system's campuses, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The suit was brought by three students who said that relevant state law protected their right to carry concealed weapons. But the judge ruled that their legal argument was based on a false assumption that the university system should be considered a locality. Rather, the judge ruled, the Board of Regents has state-granted authority as a state agency, and was within its rights to ban the carrying of concealed weapons. The Colorado ruling comes at a time of increased activism -- with significant legislative support in some states -- against campus gun bans.
California's work safety agency has fined the University of California at Los Angeles $31,000 for three "serious" violations of state regulations that came to light in an investigation of a the fatal burning of a research assistant in a December fire, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency found that the lab assistant who died was never properly trained and was not wearing protective clothing at the time of the fire in a chemistry lab. Further, UCLA was cited for not correcting deficiencies that had been identified in an earlier review, prior to the December accident. UCLA officials have announced a series of measures to improve lab safety, will not appeal the fine.
The Jesuit School of Theology will merge with Santa Clara University, the two institutions announced Monday. The theology school will keep its campus in Berkeley, and will maintain its ties with other theological schools there, but will also become part of Santa Clara, which is a Jesuit institution.
An investigation by The Houston Chronicle explored the substantial campaign contributions flowing to Texas Gov. Rick Perry from those he has appointed to state boards, many of them dealing with higher education. In a number of cases, the newspaper found donations flowing to the governor in the weeks before or after appointments were announced to prestigious board positions. Governor Perry has accepted nearly $5 million in donations from those he has appointed to state boards, and nearly half of the total involves higher education boards, the analysis found. More than $840,000 came from appointees to University of Texas positions.
Russell K. Osgood announced Monday that he will step down as president of Grinnell College in July 2010. Osgood has been president at Grinnell since 1998, and has been a prominent spokesman on behalf of Grinnell and liberal arts colleges. During his tenure, Grinnell enhanced students' financial aid packages, and embarked on many building projects on campus.