A committee in the Utah House of Representatives on Friday approved a measure that would give voters in the state the chance to ban affirmative action by all state agencies, including public colleges and universities, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The vote was party-line with Republicans -- who control both houses of the Legislature -- backing the idea of amending the state's Constitution.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A New York Times investigation into the Congressional Black Caucus raises questions about its fund raising strategies and whether they help students, as claimed. Strict limits apply to corporate donations to the caucus, but the Times reported that the organization raises many millions in corporate dollars through its nonprofit affiliates that publicly exist to support scholarships and internships for students. But according to records obtained by the newspaper, very little money goes to scholarships. In 2008, the newspaper said, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent nearly $700,000 on catering for one event, more than it gave out in scholarships.
Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina System, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the year, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Bowles took office in 2006 and has pushed for better long-term planning and closer ties to elementary and secondary education. He has also helped the system deal with several controversies at various campuses, including a recent one over payments to administrators transitioning back to the faculty. The system recently imposed new limits on the practice.
While Republicans have been denouncing and voting against most of the budget measures offered by the Obama administration to deal with the economic downturn, many have been adding earmarks to the bills -- and claiming credit for the earmarks in their districts, even if they opposed the bills. GateHouse News Service explores this issue by noting that two Republican lawmakers -- Rep. Aaron Schock and Rep. John Shimkus -- visited Lincoln Land Community College on Friday to claim credit for a $350,000 earmark for green technology programs at the college. Both lawmakers, once getting the earmark added, voted against the bill, saying it was too expensive.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council has come out in defense of the students at the University of California at Irvine who repeatedly interrupted a speech last week by Israel's ambassador to the United States, leading to arrests and university investigations. Advocates for free speech generally defend the rights of those opposed to a speaker to picket or rally outside, ask tough questions or hand out literature, but generally object to heckling mid-speech. But the council is taking a different view. "These students had the courage and conscience to stand up against aggression, using peaceful means," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the council. "We cannot allow our educational institutions to be used as a platform to threaten and discourage students who choose to practice their First Amendment right."
Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was the eighth most well compensated corporate director in 2008, according to an analysis by Bloomberg. She earned a total of $1,346,648 for her board work, while also earning $1.6 million from RPI.
Lindenwood University, in Missouri, has agreed to recognize a gay-straight student alliance, but only on the condition that the group expand its reach to include "other students in need of understanding and support," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Student organizers said that they viewed the compromise as a step forward that would allow them to form the group. Administrators had previously called the idea of a gay-straight alliance "parochial and self-serving." Lindenwood describes itself as "an independent institution firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian values. Those values include belief in an ordered, purposeful universe, the dignity of work, the worth and integrity of the individual, the obligations and privileges of citizenship and the primacy of truth."
Lord Mandelson, who as Britain's business secretary has pushed deep budget cuts and other policy changes opposed by many academic leaders, fought back Thursday with a speech in which he said higher education was not receiving more than its share of cuts and that academics needed to be more open to change, The Guardian reported. Academics "think they have a right to be set in aspic in what they do," he said. "They are using the argument about spending reductions as a screen or a cloak behind which resistance to any sort of change and reform can be conducted." He also repeated his call for universities to offer more two-year degrees (in contrast to the traditional three-year program in Britain), saying that such programs could economically respond to increased student demand.
The appointments above are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.
President Obama will give commencement addresses at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Hampton University this spring, the universities announced Thursday. The Washington Post quoted an administration official as saying that the president's third commencement speech this spring would be at one of the military academies, as is custom.