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Albany State, Darton State Eliminate Positions

Albany State University and Darton State University, two public institutions that Georgia officials are moving to merge, jointly announced plans Monday to eliminate faculty and staff positions and to eliminate "low-producing academic programs." The programs were not identified. The universities cited enrollment declines as the reason. The breakdown between faculty and staff positions was not released.

Albany State, a historically black college, which saw enrollment drop 25 percent from 2011 to 2015, is eliminating 80 positions, of which 48 are currently filled. Darton State, which saw a 10 percent decline during that period, is cutting 30 positions, none of which are filled.

Survey Finds Broad Support for Free College

Sixty-two percent of all Americans support free tuition at public colleges and universities, according to a survey released Monday by Bankrate.com. Among millennials surveyed, support was even higher, with 77 percent backing free tuition.

The survey also found a strong partisan divide on the issue. Democrats (81 percent) and independents (67 percent) backed the idea with strong majorities. Meanwhile, 33 percent of Republicans supported free tuition. The debate over college affordability became one of the biggest themes of the Democratic presidential primary, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned on a plan for free tuition at four-year public universities and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton offered a debt-free college plan in response. Clinton eventually moved closer to Sanders's position last month, proposing a plan that would provide free tuition at public universities to families with incomes under $125,000 by 2021. The Bankrate survey shows the broad support for free college proposals in the Democratic electorate.

Respondents were also sharply divided over forgiveness of student loan debt. Thirty-five percent supported forgiving student loan debt after 10 years of repayment, while 40 percent said it should be fully paid off. Clinton's platform calls for forgiving college debt after 20 years, or just 10 years if a borrower "works in the public interest." Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has not outlined a specific position on student debt forgiveness.

Another College Merger Plan -- This One in Sydney -- Is Scuttled

A plan between two major universities in Sydney, Australia, to merge their art schools has been dropped, just five weeks after it was announced, The Australian reported. The University of Sydney announced Thursday that it decided not to pursue a possible merger of its Sydney College of the Arts with the University of New South Wales' Art & Design school. "Despite the best efforts of all involved, our two institutions have a different vision of what a center of excellence in the visual arts might entail and the extent to which it is important to preserve the SCA’s distinctive tradition," Sydney's vice chancellor, Michael Spence, said in a message to students at the college.

Louisville President Resigns, but Plans Foundation Role

University of Louisville President James Ramsey officially resigned late Wednesday, ending a 14-year tenure that descended into controversy.

Ramsey's resignation, effective immediately, was accepted at a special Board of Trustees meeting that stretched roughly seven hours and included extensive negotiations, according to The Courier-Journal in Louisville. The university president’s contract would have run through 2020, but he agreed to offer his resignation earlier this year when Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin overhauled Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Ramsey also offered to serve for a year as interim president, but the new board rejected the idea. The two sides reached a deal that will pay Ramsey $690,000 -- the equivalent of two years of his university salary.

But Ramsey plans to continue at the University of Louisville Foundation, he said in a statement issued through his lawyer. Ramsey is the foundation’s president, earning about $8 million between 2012 and 2014 in the role. He said he plans to continue to work “in whatever capacity the foundation board thinks best.” Ramsey’s future with the foundation will not be decided until September at the earliest, according Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who chairs both the foundation and university boards.

Ramsey’s resignation comes amid a legal battle over whether Kentucky’s governor had the power to dismiss and replace Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Louisville Provost Neville Pinto will lead the university while it searches for a new president.

Democratic platform spurs excitement for advocates of free community college

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After taking a backseat to debate over free tuition at four-year public colleges, free community college advocates see chance to build momentum.

Report: Fisk University Quietly Sold 2 Paintings

Fisk University sparked controversy several years ago when it tried to sell off parts of its collection of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings to help solve its financial problems; the sale was ultimately blocked by a judge and the university wound up sharing its collection with an Arkansas museum in exchange for an infusion of cash.

But as the university was negotiating that legal arrangement, its president at the time quietly sold two other paintings, The New York Times reported. The sale was not reported at the time, and the Times quotes the director of another university's museum as saying that the Fisk sale was "very much against the ethics of our profession."

The Fisk situation was one of several in recent years that have raised questions of whether colleges or universities can try to transform art donated to them into assets they can use to support themselves.

Temple University president reaches deal to resign

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Transition follows weeks of tensions over his decision to oust provost.

Michigan Donor Pulls $3M Gift Over Naming Concerns

The University of Michigan's Board of Regents chairman and his wife are rescinding a $3 million gift toward a new multicultural center because their names would go on the structure, raising worries the only building on campus named for an African-American was being replaced.

Chairman Mark Bernstein and his wife, Rachel Bendit, will withdraw the gift, originally announced in April. University of Michigan protocols called for the building to be renamed Bernstein-Bendit Hall. But the university's current multicultural center, named for newspaper founder and equal rights activist William Monroe Trotter, is the only building on Michigan's Ann Arbor campus named for an African-American. The center would still have been called the Trotter Center, but many objected to having the name taken off of the building, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"We spent time with faculty, students, staff and alumni who shared with us their sense of loss and who expressed their fear that the only African-American name on a building at U-M would be diminished or erased," the newspaper quoted Bernstein, who is chair and managing partner of a Michigan law firm, as saying. "There are hundreds of buildings on this campus, and only one, Trotter, honors the name of an African-American. This is wrong. … We did not want to silence Trotter -- this one, lonely African-American voice on our campus. This was, of course, not our intention, but it could have been the result."

The new building is planned to total about 20,000 square feet and open in 2018 at a cost of $10 million. Its construction was included in demands from the university's Black Student Union during 2014 protests -- the university's current center has been criticized as being run-down and located away from Michigan's core campus, while the new facility is planned for a more central location. A Michigan spokesman said the project will move forward, although sources of replacement funding are unclear. The Trotter Center's name is now set to remain as it is today.

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Arizona State Revamps Foundation Under New Model

Arizona State University has overhauled its foundation and the specialty groups that had been housed within it, creating a new governance structure likened to a corporate holding company.

The university on Monday announced the creation this month of Enterprise Partners, an umbrella group made up of five nonprofit organizations: the ASU Foundation, defense researcher and consultant ASU Research Enterprise, intellectual property manager Arizona Technology Enterprises, real estate group University Realty, and nonprofit incubator Research Collaboratory. The ASU Foundation had previously been the parent of the other four groups.

Arizona State likened the change to Google's reorganization under the holding company Alphabet. At the university, however, the change gives each organization its own leader and board of directors. It could generate new sources of revenue, Arizona State said. But the groups share support systems and services under the umbrella organization.

"This model allows us to add new entities for diverse revenue as those opportunities come along," ASU Foundation CEO R. F. Shangraw said in the university's announcement of the new group.

Arizona State is billing the group as the first of its kind to follow its organizational model.

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PR Campaign Backs Temple President

Temple University President Neil D. Theobald does not seem to be going away quietly.

Theobald on Friday was the subject of a strongly supportive press release listing his accomplishments and saying that his focus “is on students and faculty.” The release, issued by a consulting and crisis communications firm, came days after Temple's Board of Trustees recorded a vote of no confidence in Theobald and announced its plans to fire him.

The board scheduled a vote on Theobald's removal for Thursday. The vote was scheduled only weeks after the president abruptly removed Hai-Lung Dai as provost, surprising many at Temple. Dai's removal came as a $22 million financial aid overrun was revealed.

Friday's news release on Theobald does not reference his possible removal. Instead, it references “the significant highlights of his first four years in office.” Highlights listed include improving Temple's research classification, increasing its funded research, boosting fund-raising, raising the university's ranking and bringing in large, academically strong and diverse student classes.

The release also includes supportive quotes from faculty and alumni.

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