Quick Takes: Next Battles on Affirmative Action, High Court Turns Away 2 College Cases, Stanford's Child-Care Grants for Junior Faculty, Citadel Adds Locks, Future of European Universities

April 24, 2007
  • Colorado will be a battleground over affirmative action next year, and it is likely to be joined by four other states. On Monday, critics of affirmative action announced plans to place an item on the ballot in Colorado next year that would bar affirmative action in public higher education admissions and in employment by state agencies. The initiative will be modeled on measures that have been approved by voters in California, Washington State and Michigan. Ward Connerly, leader of a national campaign against affirmative action, said he expected five measures on state ballots next year. He will be holding press conferences in Missouri, Arizona and Oklahoma later this week, most likely to announce similar campaigns. But in an interview, he said that he was still studying other possibilities. Connerly said that he had turned down requests from some groups that he push the issue in their states because he was concerned that those groups "were not furthering the cause of race relations" and may be hostile to some racial or ethnic groups. He named Nebraska, Utah and Oregon as other states where he may try to get an item on the ballot.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear two higher education cases, effectively letting stand appeals court decisions that (1) would require the University of Phoenix to defend itself against charges that it violated federal law by paying recruiters based on how many students they enrolled and (2) upheld Gannon University's right to change a former minister's duties in ways she believed were punitive. In the first case, the University of Phoenix (supported by some higher education groups) had argued that the Supreme Court should overturn last fall's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit because its interpretation of the federal False Claims Act was overly expansive and could expose colleges and companies to extreme liability for minor wrongdoing. The court's decision to let the Ninth Circuit ruling stand, however, was applauded by lawyers for the former enrollment counselors who had challenged Phoenix's compensation policies, who the lawyers said deserve their day in court. In the Gannon case, the Supreme Court's decision not to consider the case lets stand a Third Circuit ruling last September that upheld the "ministerial exception" that generally shields religious colleges and organizations from employment claims brought by clergy. The Third Circuit's ruling discarded a ruling by the same court a few months earlier that had significantly undermined the ministerial exception.
  • Stanford University has announced new child-care grants -- of $5,000-$20,000 annually -- for junior faculty members. To be eligible for the awards, a faculty member must have a child aged 5 or younger; a spouse or same sex domestic partner who is working at least 30 hours a week or who is looking for work, is a full-time student or has a disability; and have a family adjusted gross income that does not exceed $174,999. The exact size of grants will vary by family income. For families with one or more additional children, the size of the grant would go up by $1,000.
  • In the wake of the killings at Virginia Tech, the Citadel announced that -- for the first time -- all students will have locks on the doors to their rooms.
  • The European University Association has issued "The Lisbon Declaration," outlining goals for higher education in Europe. Among them: improvement in research capabilities, recognition of diverse missions, preservation of university autonomy and a stronger focus on students.
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