California students have struggled (without much success) to win tuition freezes in public higher education. Now a graduate of the University of California at Irvine is trying a new tactic that could succeed where others have failed. He is collecting signatures on a petition for a referendum to the California Constitution that would require public colleges and universities to keep tuition rates at the level that students pay when they first enroll, The Los Angeles Times reported. So colleges and universities could increase the rates each year for new students, but not continuing students. "It's an unsettling and uncertain feeling when you think you are going to afford something and just skate by and suddenly somebody asks for more money you don't have. You feel you are going to lose your investment. You feel you are going to lose your future," said Christopher Campbell, who is organizing the campaign. California higher education leaders are skeptical, and Campbell still needs many more signatures. But such a proposal, if it qualifies for the ballot, could be popular.
A federal official has recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reverse its decision to provide tens of millions of dollars to help the University of Iowa replace three buildings that were damaged in 2008 flooding, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported. The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an audit this week recommending that Homeland Security officials not provide $83 million in funds to replace three buildings that have been part of the university's efforts to rebuild in the wake of devastating floods. The audit was prompted by a complaint that FEMA should have repaired rather than replaced the buildings. Iowa officials said they were hopeful that Homeland Security administrators would reject the inspector general's recommendation, the newspaper reported.
The war of words and battle of wills between Texas Southmost College and the University of Texas at Brownsville is continuing. The two institutions used to operate jointly, and now the college has said that it will not sell any real estate to the university. That prompted this statement by Francisco G. Cigarroa, president of the university system: "The UT System stated early in the transition team negotiations that leasing facilities is not in the best interest of UTB’s educational mission as it is not conducive for a prosperous and growing four-year university. The UT System’s priority remains to build a vibrant four-year university campus that one day can rival the best universities in the state. Doing so on borrowed land and with leased facilities does not allow UTB to appropriately advance its educational mission. Without access to land for expansion in Ft. Brown, the proposed ‘Educational Village’ would not be practical; therefore, the UT System will move quickly to evaluate alternative sites in Brownsville for future expansion of the main UTB campus and build the required infrastructure necessary to accommodate its students by Fall of 2015."
California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have reached a deal that would bar public universities from receiving $125 million that could become available for them if voters approve a tax hike unless the universities freeze tuition, The Los Angeles Times reported. Lawmakers dislike planned tuition increases, and see the deal as another incentive for voters to pass the tax increases. But university officials are dubious, saying that they can't give up the tuition revenue, especially given that passage of the tax measure is uncertain.
Part of the settlement of Mississippi's higher education desegregation case in 2004 was a pledge by the state to raise $35 million to boost the minimal endowments of the state's three historically black universities: Alcorn State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State Universities. After the campaign was announced, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $1 million. Since then, nothing has happened. But the Associated Press reported that state higher education officials are now pledging to develop new plans to raise the money. Hank Bounds, the higher education commissioner, said that "we really need to put forth a really good strategy and see if we can find some success."
Some student leaders may be questioning Wesleyan University's recent shift away from need-blind admissions, but Moody's Investors Service is applauding the change, The Hartford Courant reported. In fact, a new report from Moody's suggests other private colleges may want to follow Wesleyan's lead. "These actions ... are credit positive for Wesleyan, as well as other selective private colleges that could look to this model as an avenue for growing tuition revenue in an increasingly difficult higher education market burdened by stiffening tuition price resistance and rising student loan burden," Moody's said.