Quick Takes: Obama on Education, Iowa's Floods, Kennedy Urges Community Colleges to Join Direct Lending, Staff Votes for Union at Marymount Manhattan, Carnegie Honors Chancellors of Berkeley and Syracuse

June 17, 2008
  • Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, went to Kettering University, in Michigan, Monday to deliver what he billed as a major speech on U.S. competitiveness and his focus was very much on education at all levels. In his talk, Obama said that changes in the world economy require national leadership on the scale of earlier leaders' decisions to create land-grant universities, to build the Hoover Dam, and to launch the space programs. Most of the education and research proposals he outlined were among those he has made before, but not always linked together as he did Monday. Among the ideas he discussed: the need for higher standards in elementary and secondary education so more high school graduates are prepared for college, recruiting new teachers, "updating" schools of education, adding student aid and tax breaks for college education, and greatly expanding education benefits for veterans. He also called for major infusions of federal research funds, with an emphasis on research that promotes the environment and improves U.S. energy policy. Aides to Sen. John McCain, Obama's Republican opponent, held a briefing for reporters Monday to respond to the speech and they accused Obama of not believing the United States can compete with the rest of the world, and of favoring high taxes.
  • Power has been restored at the University of Iowa and officials are shifting to repair operations following flooding that reached many campus buildings and forced many programs to be called off -- including classes all week. Students enrolled in summer courses that have been meeting will receive the option of dropping the course without any indication on their transcript and receiving a full refund, but the university is urging students to weigh the impact of such an action on their graduation timetables.
  • Community colleges are not reporting any difficulty in their students obtaining loans and for many years aid experts at two-year institutions have worried that some of their students may be borrowing too much. But on Monday, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy sent a letter to community college leaders urging them to enroll in direct lending to assure that their students have access to loan funds. Kennedy expressed fears that some community college students could face difficulty, and outlined the way that colleges in direct lending would not face that risk.
  • Non-faculty staff members at Marymount Manhattan College have voted to unionize with the New York State United Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York is today announcing that the chancellors of the University of California at Berkeley and Syracuse University, Robert J. Birgeneau and Nancy Cantor, respectively, have won this year's "Academic Leadership Award," which honors college leaders for "academic excellence and bold, visionary leadership." The two universities will each receive $500,000, which is to be used at the discretion of the two winners to advance their academic goals for the institutions.
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