Butler University's faculty has rejected a student proposal to invite John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to be the commencement speaker this year, The Indianapolis Star reported. Roberts has a niece in the graduating class. Faculty members said that they voted down the idea not because they object to Roberts's ideas, but because they generally avoid political figures for commencement speakers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Gretchen Bataille's many supporters remain confused and upset by her ouster last month as president of the University of North Texas, with only vague statements having been issued about why she was forced out. The Dallas Morning News, based on a review of e-mail records obtained through an open records request, reports that there may have been no single dispute between Bataille and system leaders, but that she differed with Chancellor Lee Jackson on a series of issues, including tuition, organizational matters and a branch campus.
In a relatively rare move in higher education, Syracuse University has appointed a pagan chaplain, ABC News reported. As of last year, there were only 11 student pagans at the university, but they hope their numbers may grow now that they have a chaplain.
The online journal archiving system JSTOR announced today that it has signed on the University of Chicago Press to its Current Scholarship Program — a project that aims to supplement JSTOR's deep repository of back issues from over a thousand journals. The idea behind the project, which is scheduled to open next year, is to help academic publishers leverage JSTOR’s connections to libraries in 145 countries in order to broaden their subscriber bases. Meanwhile, JSTOR will be able to increase its own appeal by advertising itself as a portal to current publications, not just back files. (The publishers would set the prices and collect the revenue from the subscriptions to current publications.) Chicago is the 11th university press to sign on to the project, joining the University of California Press, among others.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate edged closer Thursday to merging the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act into the budget reconciliation bill being drafted to push health care reform through Congress without Republican support. Among the provisions that would be included: the long-discussed end of the Federal Family Education Loan Program, in which private lenders receive subsidies for making loans to students, and the expansion of the Pell Grant program. At a news conference, the chairs of the House and Senate education committees vowed to ensure that the loan reforms would be included in the bill. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said the chance to adjust federal funding for higher education was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change Washington and do the right thing, the fair thing, and the fiscally responsible thing for hard-working families."
Student advocates Campus Progress, the United States Public Interest Research Group and the United States Student Association sent a letter to Congress Thursday afternoon applauding the proposal. "We can no longer afford to waste billions on special interest subsidies while higher education budgets are cut, college costs skyrocket, and students and their families are struggling to afford a higher education," they wrote.
But news reports also indicated that Senate leaders seem intent on using a newer, and much lower, figure for determining the savings that the student loan reforms would generate. That decision, if it holds up, would mean that Congress would have much less money to distribute among the many would-be beneficiaries of the bill: community colleges, minority serving institutions, early childhood education programs, and, most prominently, needy recipients of Pell Grants.
The National Book Critics Circle on Thursday announced winners of its annual book awards:
- Ficton: Hilary Mantel, for Wolf Hall
- Nonfiction: Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder
- Autobiography: Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End
- Biography: Blake Bailey, Cheever
- Criticism: Eula Biss, Notes From No Man's Land
Poetry: Rae Armentrout, Versed
Faculty members at the State University of New York at Binghamton are circulating a petition calling for the institution, in the wake of a basketball scandal, to leave Division I, The New York Times reported. Senior administrators have acknowledged problems in the program, but shown no willingness to reconsider big-time athletics. The faculty statement, however, says: "“Withdrawal from membership in Division I is in the interest of this university that aspires to be a ‘premier’ public research institution. It will send a strong message to [SUNY System] Chancellor [Nancy] Zimpher, our students and alumni that we intend to end the spirit of cover-up that was encouraged from the top, raise our academic standards, and restore BU’s reputation.”
President Obama announced Thursday the charities to which he is donating the $1.4 million he received as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize -- and several of the organizations support efforts to help more students go to college. Among the recipients: College Summit, the Posse Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation and the American Indian College Fund.
Three female employees at Alabama State University have filed a lawsuit charging that they were the victims of repeated incidents of sexual and racial harassment, and that senior administrators condoned the actions, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. University officials counter that the suit was prompted by a former trustee who, they claim, is trying to unsettle the insittution.
The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association on Wednesday published a draft of proposed "common core standards" that are designed to help states reach consensus on what it means to be "college ready." Most states have agreed in principle to embrace the standards once they are agreed on, and groups of college faculty members in English and mathematics plan to assess the standards.