Quick Takes: Carter at Brandeis, College-less State of the Union, Judge Throws Out Suits Against Randolph-Macon Woman's College, GAO on International Students, Unusual Choice for St.-Mary-of-the-Woods

January 24, 2007
  • Amid some protests outside, President Jimmy Carter visited Brandeis University Tuesday to talk about his new book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The book has been criticized by some as unfairly critical of Israel, but an original decision to invite Carter to debate the book -- but not to speak by himself -- was seen by many on the campus as an infringement on academic freedom and free speech. In the end, he spoke by himself, and answered questions that had been screened by a panel. The Boston Globe reported that his speech received several ovations and while Carter generally defended the ideas in his book, he apologized for one sentence that appeared to justify terrorism. About half of the audience stayed on after Carter left to hear Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, offer another view, The Globe reported.
  • Higher education is rarely front and center in presidential State of the Union addresses -- but rarely is it invisible, either, as it was Tuesday night in President Bush's seventh such speech. In a speech heavy on foreign affairs, he did not mention any college programs or efforts or in any way refer to higher education. The closest he came to an issue relevant to colleges was a plea to Congress to cut back on the earmarks, or directed grants, that lawmakers love to give to their constituents, and for which many postsecondary institutions line up. The president's references to education focused on his signature K-12 program, No Child Left Behind, which is up for renewal in Congress this year. College officials hoping for some nod from the president toward a hoped-for Pell Grant increase may wonder if his neglect of higher education portends what will happen in Congress in the coming year -- with the No Child Left Behind reauthorization eclipsing higher education issues, including efforts to carry out the recommendations of the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. (For what it's worth, the only higher education-specific statement in Sen. Jim Webb's Democratic response to the State of the Union address was a reference to "off the chart" college tuition prices, in a list of reasons why Americans are struggling economically.
  • A state judge on Tuesday dismissed two lawsuit brought against Randolph-Macon Woman's College over its decision to start admitting men, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Judge J. Leyburn Mosby Jr. found that there was no explicit contract under which the college promised to remain single sex, and that the college's nonprofit status does not give courts the right to question all of its decisions. Randolph-Macon Woman's announced its plans over the summer, citing declining demand for women's colleges, but students and alumnae have protested the move.
  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Tuesday released a report summarizing a meeting it organized on the challenges of recruiting foreign students. The report contains discussion on the need to develop a national strategy to recruit foreign students, possible changes that may be needed in the visa system, and new sources for students from other countries.
  • St.-Mary-of-the-Woods College, a Roman Catholic women's institution in Indiana, on Tuesday named David Behrs as its next president -- a move that surprised some on the campus because Behrs is not only the first lay president of an institution that has been led by nuns, but the first male, The Terre Haute Tribune-Star reported. Behrs is currently serving as associate provost and vice president for student affairs at Dominican University of California.
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