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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
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.
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.