Agriculture Colleges Have $8.4B in Deferred Maintenance

Colleges of agriculture authorized to receive U.S. Department of Agriculture funding have serious deferred maintenance needs, a study by Sightlines and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has found.

The roughly 100 agriculture colleges have $8.4 billion in deferred maintenance of their buildings and supporting facilities, which has contributed to a 29 percent erosion of their value. The deterioration comes in many forms -- roofs that leak, foundations that crack, doors and windows that don’t keep the heat in or cold out, and HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems that fail -- and negatively affects the functioning of key research areas, like labs and animal care facilities.

“These study results confirm the suspected magnitude of a problem that must be addressed if our institutions are going to continue to be able to conduct the high-quality research that is at the cutting edges of the science and education enterprises,” said Ian L. Maw, vice president of food, agriculture and natural resources at APLU.

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Apple Loses Patent Case to U of Wisconsin

A federal jury in Wisconsin on Tuesday found that Apple infringed on a patent held by the University of Wisconsin at Madison in creating the chips in many iPhones and iPads, Reuters reported. The damages stage of the trial is just starting but could involve an award of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hope International and Nebraska Christian to Merge

Two Christian colleges -- Hope International University and Nebraska Christian College -- announced Thursday that they will merge. Hope International, in California, is the larger of the two institutions, with about 1,300 students. Nebraska Christian's enrollment is under 200.

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New York judge blocks Paul Smith's College from changing name for $20 million gift

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Judge says Paul Smith's College didn't present compelling evidence that a name change was necessary -- even in return for a large gift.

NYU Receives $100M Gift for Engineering School

New York University on Monday announced a $100 million gift, which will primarily support faculty hiring and academic programs at the university's engineering school. The school will be renamed to honor the donors, Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon.

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Financial need an aid priority for most states

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States are growing their need-based aid at a much faster rate than other types of aid.

Report: 11 States Spend More on Corrections Than Higher Ed

In the five years following 2008, state appropriation support for the median public research university declined by more than 26 percent, according a report released Wednesday by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The report found that states spend twice as much on Medicaid as they do on higher education, and that in 11 states spending on corrections surpassed higher education spending.

"Public research universities play a critical role in the American economy, and in the lives of millions of Americans," said Kay Bailey Hutchison, former United States senator from Texas and member of the AAAS Lincoln Project, which authored the report. "Yet in state budgets, higher education competes for resources in areas that are either difficult or impossible to cut."

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Hopkins Unveils New Plan to Help Baltimore

Johns Hopkins University is today announcing a plan to hire more people from low-income Baltimore areas, The Baltimore Sun reported. The university plans to hire an additional 60 people from areas with high rates of unemployment or poverty for positions such as clerical staff and food service. The pledge aims to increase the share of those hired for such positions from these areas from 26 percent to 50 percent. The university also plans to spend more of its construction budget with companies that have female or minority owners.

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Scott Walker Suspends Campaign

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, The Washington Post and many other news outlets reported Monday. Walker, who used his highly visible clashes with the University of Wisconsin System as a rallying point for his campaign, failed to gain traction in the race.

Some faculty critics of Walker's have said his tussles with Wisconsin's public universities -- such as the deep budget cuts he successfully pushed -- were more about his presidential aspirations than the state's interests. Walker's supporters in Wisconsin probably have a different view. And it's unclear at this point if the governor will cut a gentler image in his dealings with the flagship university in Madison or other public institutions in the state now that he is exiting the national stage.

Strike Called, Classes Called Off at Rock Valley

Rock Valley College, a community college in Illinois, called off classes today in anticipation of a strike by the faculty union. The college posted a statement that faculty members would be cut off from college email and unable to communicate with students during the strike. The college said it would consider scheduling makeup classes, depending on the duration of the strike. The Rock Valley College Faculty Association has argued on its Facebook page and elsewhere that the college's salary offers have been too low and that professors aren't paid a fair wage. The union also says it was prepared to negotiate through the night but that the college refused to do so and declared an impasse to force the strike. The college says that it has made fair offers and that it can't afford to meet the union's proposals.


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