Budget Impasse Could Force Major Cuts at Penn State

Pennsylvania continues to operate without a state budget for the current fiscal year. Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University, warned Friday that if the budget impasse is not resolved, 1,100 Penn State employees will be subject to layoffs and agriculture extension offices will be closed this summer, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Hamilton, U of Georgia Mark Leap Day

Hamilton College is using today's leap day for a fund-raising campaign. The college is trying to set a record in the number of donors it has had on a single day, and one trustee has pledged to match every gift (regardless of size) with $100. A video urges alumni to "take a leap" for the college.

The University of Georgia has produced its own leap day video, focused on why we have leap years and some students whose birthday is Feb. 29.

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In Bid to Save Money, Chicago State Kills Spring Break

Chicago State University announced Tuesday that it will eliminate spring break as part of a plan to finish the academic year before running out of money, The Chicago Tribune reported. Some public colleges in Illinois are struggling to maintain operations as they move toward the end of an academic year in which the lack of a state budget means they have received no funds from the state. Chicago State, with many low-income students, has indicated it may run out of money next month. Calling off spring break is part of a larger plan that will end the spring semester with graduation on April 28. The original schedule would have ended the semester May 13.

Study: Why Presidents’ Political Ideologies Matter

When college presidents network, political ideology matters. According to a new report, published in Public Administration Review, college presidents’ political views shape the way they interact with policy makers, business owners and other community leaders.

Liberal presidents are less likely to network with local and community actors, a finding the researchers found unsurprising. For the most part, “local actors” meant businesses and community groups -- and conservatives believe these groups ought to play a larger role in public policy.

How presidents interact with political leaders also depends on the political climate, the researchers found. At public universities, leaders are spending more time shielding the organization from harm -- like budget cuts or aggressive oversight -- than searching for new opportunities. And generally, presidents are more likely to focus on challenging “skeptical and critical” political leaders, rather than building relationships with those who are more supportive.

Illinois Governor Vetoes Bill With Funds for Higher Ed

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, on Friday vetoed a bill that would have provided $721 million for community colleges and for the state scholarship program for low-income students, The Chicago Tribune reported. Public colleges and the state student aid program, which also helps students at private colleges, have not received state funds since July because of the failure of legislators and the governor to agree on a budget plan. The bill Rauner vetoed was intended to help community colleges and low-income students while efforts to adopt a state budget continue. Many colleges whose students have state grants (which were theoretically awarded but haven't been paid) have been covering the missing funds, but that is becoming increasingly difficult for some of them.

$750M Settlement for Carnegie Mellon in Patent Suit

Marvell Technology Group has agreed to pay Carnegie Mellon University $750 million to settle a patent lawsuit the university filed against the company in 2009, the university announced. A federal appeals court in August partially vacated a judge's earlier ruling that Marvell pay Carnegie Mellon $1.169 billion for willfully infringing two patents for a chip technology.

The university said it would probably receive about $250 million after the two researchers who developed the technology receive their share of the proceeds and legal expenses are paid. A "broad consensus" exists that much of that money should be used to make the university more affordable to students, said the university's president, Subra Suresh.

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Alabama Universities Defend Earmarks

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican, is facing four challengers in the GOP primary, and all are criticizing his earmarks to Alabama universities, reported. The article explores how the universities say the earmarks improved programs -- and led to naming buildings for Shelby.

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La. freezes payments to state grant program; colleges to pick up slack

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Louisiana won't fund its merit-based scholarship program for the rest of this academic year, requiring universities to make up the difference.

University of Akron, a struggling regional, hopes to expand worldwide

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University is struggling. At home, many are skeptical of President Scott Scarborough's plan to turn it around by expanding its reach.

New America's Plan for Higher Education Financing

In most states, public funding for higher education has not recovered in the wake of the last recession. And odds are that state disinvestment will get worse after the next economic downturn, according to New America. That, in turn, means more picking up slack by the federal government.

The think tank this week proposed a broad set of fixes to what it says is an "irreparably broken" financial and regulatory bargain between the federal government, states and colleges. New America's report, dubbed "Starting From Scratch," described the group's plan to change the current federal higher education funding structure from behaving like a voucher program, where aid follows students, to one based on formula-funded grants. It would eliminate federal student aid programs and replace them with grants to states.

To participate and receive federal funding, states would have to agree to maintain their higher education funding levels, to provide a 25 percent match for the federal grant and to play a more "active role" in holding colleges accountable for their performance. All types of colleges -- public, private and for-profit -- could participate. To receive grant money, institutions would need to have enrollments with at least 25 percent of students being low income, to meet student financial needs and to adhere to performance standards, such as graduation rates and labor-market outcomes for students.

"Imagine a world where all student financial need is met. There are no federal loans, no Pell Grants and no higher education tax credits," the report said. "Instead, states receive formula funds for colleges that enroll a substantial share of low-income students and serve all students well."

Some of the group's ideas only work in the context of the full plan, said Kevin Carey, who directs the education policy program at New America. Yet the funding structure of higher education has become a hot-ticket issue, he said. Presidential candidates, for example, are talking about their own ambitious plans -- like free college on the Democratic side. The plan would cost about $39 billion annually in additional federal funding, compared to current spending levels. That's a similar amount to the cost of the higher education plan proposed by Hillary Clinton.

"This is a proposal that's very much in the mainstream in 2016," Carey said.


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