Quick Takes: Hinojosa to Head House Higher Ed Panel, 4-Year Degrees for Florida's 2-Year Colleges, Scrutiny for Preferred Lender Lists, Agenda for Accreditation Rule Making, Methodists Oppose Bush Library at SMU, Harvard and Interdisciplinary Science

January 19, 2007
  • Rep. Rubén E. Hinojosa (D-Tex.) will head the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees higher education in the 110th Congress, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) announced Thursday. Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said Hinojosa would lead the jazzily renamed Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness (formerly known as the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness). Hinojosa, a former business executive and a House member since 1996, has been an outspoken advocate for Hispanic youth and is a former regent of South Texas Community College. GOP leaders announced that the top Republican on the higher education subcommittee will be Rep. Ric Keller of Florida, who headed the panel for the last nine months of the 109th Congress. 
  • Higher education officials in Florida announced Thursday that they had reached under which community colleges in the state will continue to be able to offer four-year degrees -- but only in nursing, teaching and "workforce-oriented degrees in high-need/high-demand fields." The agreement helps resolve the last lingering issue remaining from a 2004 lawsuit that challenged the state Board of Education has jurisdiction over Florida's community colleges. Also Thursday, a consultant asked to review Florida's higher education system released a report saying that the system is badly organized and haphazardly financed, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
  • The New York State Attorney General's Office has begun asking providers of student loans for documents that describe the relationships by which colleges have placed them on lists of "preferred lenders," the blog Higher Ed Watch reported. Higher Ed Watch said that Sallie Mae had acknowledged receiving such a request, which its officials said the attorney general's office had issued to other lenders as well.
  • The U.S. Education Department was expected to announce today what it planned for the negotiated rule making session on higher education accreditation that its officials said they had decided to hold. Although Friday's Federal Register contained no such announcement, a draft of the department's plan said the first session would be held February 21-23 in Arlington, Va., and that the topics it would cover are measures of student achievement and transfer of credit, among other things. Negotiators include John Wiley, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Steve Crow, of the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission, Craig Swenson of Western Governors University, Tom Corts of the Alabama College System, and Judith Eaton of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.
  • Methodist clergy are joining the campaign against Southern Methodist University's plan to become home of President Bush's presidential library. Faculty members have been upset because Bush plans to create an independent policy center -- with the agenda of promoting his ideas -- along with the library. Now a national petition drive, Protect SMU, has been organized by a group of Methodist bishops. "As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate," the petition states.
  • Harvard University announced Thursday that it was creating a $50 million fund and a new universitywide committee to oversee interdisciplinary science research. The plan, which was approved even as the university awaits the choice of a new president, represents a major shift in approach for Harvard, which has traditionally and overwhelmingly vested power in its individual academic departments.
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