Quick Takes: House Panel Sets Flat Funds for Humanities, Pension Fight in California, New Pathways to Grant Program, Ariz. Community Colleges Lose Tax Dollars, Incarnate Word vs. NYT, Enrollment Patterns, New Mexico Highlands President Suspended

June 30, 2006
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 2007 spending bill Thursday that would keep funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts at their 2006 levels. The legislation, which sets spending for the Interior Department and a slew of other agencies, would provide $141 million for the NEH and $124.4 million for the NEA, which meet the Bush administration's requests. A comparable measure approved last month by the House of Representatives would provide $5 million more for each agency in 2007, and lobbyists for the humanities and arts agencies -- knowing that changes were unlikely at the Appropriations Committee level -- are focusing their efforts on pushing an amendment before the full Senate to get funds for the endowments to the House level.
  • University of California employees are protesting a decision to require them to resume contributions to pension plans, the Associated Press reported. Union officials say that the university hasn't done sufficient research to be sure that renewed contributions are needed.
  • Education Department officials said Thursday that the department had approved alternative ways for residents of 37 states to qualify for a new federal grant program. In a telephone news conference, department officials said that they had granted requests from the states for additional ways that students could show that they had taken a "rigorous" high school curriculum, which is a requirement to receive the new Academic Competitiveness Grant created by Congress as part of budget cutting legislation last winter. In several states, the department approved dual-enrollment programs, in which students attend high school and community college at the same time, and in others it endorsed programs in which graduating students must take coursework that fulfills their state's higher education admission requirements.
  • Arizona community colleges will lose more than $30 million under legislation enacted that will limit property taxes, The Arizona Republic reported.
  • The library dean at the University of the Incarnate Word has canceled the library's subscription to The New York Times to protest the newspaper's recent scoops about some secret elements of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism activities, The San Antonio Express-News reported. Many faculty members at the university are outraged, the newspaper said.
  • National demand for higher education will remain strong in the next few years, but institutions will thrive or struggle based on how demographic changes play out for their regions and higher education sector, Moody's Investors Service said in a report released this week. The report, "Demographic Trends Indicate Continuing Student Demand for Most Colleges & Universities," predicts that flagship public universities, community colleges in robust areas, top-tier private colleges and comprehensive urban institutions will fare well. But it warns that regional public universities in areas also served by lower priced community colleges, two-year institutions in regions with declining populations or tax bases, and "small, thinly endowed private colleges" in highly competitive markets could struggle.
  • The controversial president of New Mexico Highlands University was suspended, with little information released about why, The Albuquerque Tribune reported. Manny Aragon, president since 2004 has clashed repeatedly with faculty members. This month, the American Association of University Professors censured the university.
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