The budget bill for California higher education for the coming year will include increased reporting requirements, but not a direct linkage between increased funding and accomplishing certain goals, The Los Angeles Times reported. Governor Jerry Brown had wanted public higher education -- as a condition of more money -- to improve graduation rates, enroll more low income students and freeze tuition. But higher education leaders said that those goals might not be possible given the severity of budget cuts over the last decade. Legislators generally accepted that argument.
The uproar over the "KUboobs" Twitter account is being called a "boobment." The account features photographs that women send in showing their cleavage with University of Kansas T-shirts and other KU accoutrements. Fans of other colleges and universities have started similar accounts. Rumors spread this week that the University of Kansas was trying to have the site -- with which it has no affiliation -- shut down. Online outrage followed, along with new hashtags such as #saveKUboobs and #IloveKUboobs. The university has denied trying to shut down the site, maintaining only that it was seeking to prevent the site's founders from selling merchandise that infringes on university trademarks for KU material. The dispute appears to have drawn more attention to the Twitter account, which now has more than 63,000 followers.
The Connecticut General Assembly has given final approval to a plan to two major spending initiatives for the University of Connecticut. One part would provide $1.5 billion for construction of facilities, including laboratories, equipment and housing. A second part would provide $137 million to hire additional faculty members so that enrollment can be increased in science and technology fields.
Saint Paul's College, a historically black institution in Virginia founded in 1888, will close at the end of this month. While college officials did not respond to reports over the weekend of an imminent closure, the Associated Press reported that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools confirmed that it had been formally notified by the college of plans to close. The college has been in danger of closure since SACS announced a year ago that it was stripping the college of accreditation, making its students ineligible for federal aid. There had been some hope that the college would be rescued by merging with Saint Augustine's College, a historically black college in North Carolina. Both institutions were Both founded by the Episcopal Church. But last month, Saint Augustine's announced that it did not consider that plan viable.
A new paper sponsored by several divestment advocacy groups and written by the Tellus Institute, a think tank that works on issues of sustainability, attempts to chart a course for institutions to follow in order to divest fossil fuel holdings from their endowments and overcome administrators' objections that divestment would be too costly and onerous. In the past few months, several university governing boards and endowments have become the target of a coordinated national campaign, which most wealthy institutions have so far resisted.
In the paper, author Josh Humphreys, a fellow at the Tellus Institute, lays out a three-step path of freezing and divesting investments in coal companies, investing in renewable energy companies and "strategic reallocation across all asset classes in order to manage climate risk and embrace sustainable opportunities in a holistic way." The paper does not present any new calculations on the potential costs or benefits of divestment, instead relying on previous works, though it does express a belief that colleges that divest will likely see higher returns than institutions that continue to invest in fossil fuels.
Student services employees at Evergreen State College went on strike Tuesday, The Olympian reported. The union and the administration differ on salaries and procedures for firing employees. Some faculty members moved classes off campus to avoid crossing picket lines.
Faculty leaders at Marshall University are raising questions about athletic spending, particularly in light of budget cuts to academic programs, The Herald-Dispatch reported. Faculty members say that they have been promised for years that athletics would become self-supporting, but that it remains a serious drain on funds. Last year, the athletics budget was nearly $25 million, and 46 percent of that was financed through student fees or direct university support. Professors are asking why those funds shouldn't be used to minimize academic cuts. Pamela Mulder, a psychology professor, told the newspaper that athletics was helping "very few people and not remotely connected to the physical well-being of our overall student body." David Steele, Marshall's associate athletics director, said that the university spends less on athletics than many of its peers. He added: "We're part of the institution, and we have to work together to make it work."
Colleges have faced increased pressure in the last year from student and environment activists to sell off investments in fossil fuel companies, but most colleges that have acted on those requests have very small endowments, and relatively few such investments to start with. Brown University (which has a substantial endowment) on Friday announced that its board had discussed but not voted on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies that the university sell holdings in 15 companies that mine or burn coal. A university statement said that no formal action was taken on the advisory panel's report.
A Brown statement said: "During the business meeting of the corporation, members asked the university to identify ways to work with students, faculty, staff, peer institutions, and other strategic partners to develop a robust response to climate change and to assume a greater leadership role on the issue of CO2 emissions. Corporation action on the issue of divestment was not expected at this meeting, and the corporation confirmed that the complexity of the divestment issue warrants further discussion before responding to the ACCRIP’s recommendation."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, is seeking the right to sell buildings on University of Wisconsin campuses, as well as buildings owned by other units of the state, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinelreported. Some legislators and student groups are opposing the plan. They note that, in the case of some facilities, buildings were paid for by student fees with the understanding that they would be used for students. Further, the governor's plan does not require that proceeds from any sales go to the university, so a campus could lose control of a building and gain no revenue.