Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The Congressional Budget Office released a report last week saying that the DREAM Act -- which creates a path to citizenship for some students who came to the United States as minors and were educated in the country, without legal authority to remain -- would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years. The CBO analysis assumes that many of these students would over time get jobs, pay taxes and thus contribute to the federal budget. The report also estimates costs associated with the DREAM Act, such as spending on student loans and other programs for which the students would become eligible. The CBO report was generally much more optimistic on the impact of the act than was a report issued last week by the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that generally argues for tight controls on immigration. That organization predicted billions in additional costs to taxpayers, based on an assumption of many more students enrolling in college.

The reports came amid lobbying of the Senate to approve the legislation. Obama administration officials held a series of press briefings last week in support of the DREAM Act, and many college presidents have been speaking out in support. The White House blog also released a list of "10 reasons we need the DREAM Act." But Republicans in the Senate continue to block the bill -- with some opposing the legislation and others opposing consideration of any legislation on any subject unless the Bush administration's tax cuts for wealthy Americans are extended.

Monday, December 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Players on the women's soccer team at Belmont University say that they were told by Lisa Howe that she was forced out of her job as their coach because she told officials that she and her female partner were about to have a child, The Tennessean reported. Students said that Howe had sought permission to talk to the team about the situation and was told she needed to either quit or be fired. The university released a statement saying that Howe made the choice to leave her position.

Monday, December 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Michael Rao, the president of Virginia Commonwealth University, has withdrawn confidentiality agreements that he had required some university employees to sign, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. "The confidentiality agreements have been the subject of recent scrutiny and criticism and, unfortunately, have been misinterpreted in terms of what I sought to be accomplished by these agreements," he said in a statement. "I sincerely regret any undue burden or ill will that these agreements may have caused. Therefore, I have decided to withdraw all such confidentiality agreements."

Monday, December 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Business leaders in Louisiana are working with Gov. Bobby Jindal on a plan to grant considerable autonomy to Louisiana State University's flagship campus at Baton Rouge, with the goal of helping the campus improve academically at a time of limited state support, The Times-Picayune reported. The plan would grant LSU exemptions from many state requirements and give it increased freedom on setting tuition rates.

Monday, December 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Princeton University students last week rejected, by a vote of 1,014 to 699, a proposal to ask dining services to stock an additional brand of hummus beyond the Sabra that is currently offered. Pro-Palestinian students had pushed the idea of adding a new hummus choice, saying that they did not like their only hummus option to be from an Israeli company that the students accused of having ties to the Israeli military.

Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Students and faculty members at West Chester University of Pennsylvania were alarmed by posters that recently appeared for a new organization for white students. But The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that campus officials investigated, and found that there is no such group. A spokeswoman said that the posters were put up in "a very innocent and naive attempt to create some sense of activism," and that students just "wanted a reaction" that would get everyone talking.

Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Bill McCartney, former head football coach at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is apologizing for comments he has made about gay people -- and the apology has come as he has expressed interest in his old job, which is now open, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. In the past, McCartney has described homosexuality as "an abomination against almighty God," and the Daily Camera reported that some people urged Colorado not to rehire someone with such views. Now, McCartney said that he is not against any group. "The Bible says the whole gospel is found in the first two commandments, and those commandments are love God and love your neighbor as yourself," McCartney said. "What I regret is that I did not communicate that. I don't judge the gay community, and anybody who gets the impression that I do, that's just not the truth. I didn't communicate that well that day, and I regret that. I ask the forgiveness of anyone who thinks I judged them or look down on them. I don't."

Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Leaders of the American Anthropological Association, facing criticism from some physical anthropologists and other scholars over dropping the word "science" from the organization's plan for the future, have issued a statement saying that the controversy has been exaggerated. "We believe that the source of the problem speaks to the power of symbols: we replaced the term 'science' in the preface of this planning document by a more specific (and inclusive) list of research domains, while explicitly acknowledging that the Association’s central focus is to promote the production, circulation, and application of anthropological research findings," says the statement from the organization's officers.

Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Stacey Brook, an economist at the University of Iowa, has developed productivity rankings for college football teams (for both offenses and defenses) that he believes do a better job of ranking teams than does the much-debated methodology used to place teams in the Bowl Championship Series. The economist's formula uses 17 statistics, including yards gained, number of first downs, touchdown scoring percent, number of offensive plays, missed and made field goals, and turnovers. Information about the system may be found here and current rankings using this system (which differ considerably from the official rankings) may be found here.

Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert L. Harris Jr. has resigned as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center following a move by the university to situate the center as part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty of the center posted a statement of opposition to the change on the program's website, saying that they were "appalled" by the decision, which they said was made without consulting them, and without any evidence that the change would be good for the center. The statement applauded the "principled" decision of Harris to resign his administrative post. Supporters of the center are planning a protest today, saying that the autonomy of the center -- which until now has reported directly to the provost, independent of any other unit at Cornell -- was in danger. Kent Fuchs, the provost, issued a statement in which he said that the new organizational structure would provide more support for the center, link it more closely to relevant academic disciplines, follow a model used by other leading universities and allow for the creation of a doctoral program. "In its new academic home, Africana studies will retain its faculty, staff, and North Campus facility, and receive the critical academic and administrative support that a college is best able to provide, including a plan to increase the number of its faculty, for which I have committed the necessary resources," the statement said.

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