California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, unveiled his latest proposed budget for 2010-11 on Friday and it doesn't propose cuts (and actually includes restoration of funds) for the state's three higher education systems. The news led to praise from leaders of the systems, but it is unclear whether the budget will survive. The governor's proposals may reflect a growing consensus in the state that cuts to higher education have been debilitating. However, the governor's budget plan includes such measures as the complete elimination of the state's major welfare program and of the main program to provide state subsidized child care -- and many legislators are vowing to save these and other programs.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Clotilde Reiss, a French academic, was permitted to return home from Iran 10 months after she was arrested on various charges that she denied, AFP reported. Reiss was conducting research in Iran and also teaching French at the University of Isfahan at the time of her arrest.
Albion College's board approved a series of cuts Friday that include 15 full-time faculty positions. The college is eliminating academic majors in computer science and physical education and minors in dance, journalism and physical education. College officials said that the changes were needed to preserve quality following enrollment declines. Many faculty members have questioned the process the board used, and said that it eliminated past protections for professors' role in evaluating academic changes and for preserving tenure.
Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Superior voted 75 to 5 last week to unionize, and will now be represented by a campus chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. The vote is the first on unionization in the university system since a state law last year permitted collective bargaining for faculty members in the University of Wisconsin. The AFT has organizing drives under way throughout the system and a vote is about to take place at the university's Eau Claire campus.
Legislation aimed at strengthening federal support for academic research ran (at least temporarily) into a buzzsaw of Congressional concern Thursday over continuing expansion of the federal government. The measure, which would renew the America COMPETES law that set Congress on a path to double the budgets of the National Science Foundation and other federal physical sciences agencies, was sent back to the House of Representatives science committee after a majority of lawmakers bowed to Republican critiques that the bill would create too many new programs and authorize far too much federal spending. Democrats said they reluctantly pulled the bill before a final up or down vote. While Republicans raised substantive objections to the measure, they also flogged the NSF for failing to aggressively punish employees who had viewed pornography. “I’m disappointed that politics trumped good policy," said Rep. Bart Gordon, the Tennessee Democrat who heads the science panel. "The minority was willing to trade American jobs and our nation’s economic competitiveness for the chance to run a good political ad."
Seton Hall University's law school is sticking with plans to have New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as its graduation speaker -- over the objections of some alumni and faculty members, The Star-Ledger reported. Critics are angry that the new governor, a Republican, has announced plans to replace the only African American on the state's Supreme Court despite state tradition that governors generally reappoint justices.
It was a luxury that even Williams College can't afford anymore. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the highly selective liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts is closing its stand-alone club for alumni in New York City, one of a few such clubs that remain. "After nearly a century of serving our extended New York City community from our location on 24 East 39th Street, the Williams Club will cease its own clubhouse and hospitality operations," the head of the club's board wrote on its website.
Congress took a step Thursday toward disappointing education leaders who are hoping for another large injection of federal funds, even as the Obama administration stepped up its advocacy for such a boost. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $58.8 billion bill to provide emergency spending for the 2010 fiscal year, but despite pleas from the Congressional education committees and education groups, the legislation did not include any money to help states protect the jobs of schoolteachers and college employees. Also on Thursday, though, Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote Senate leaders urging them to include up to $23.3 billion for such purposes, in line with legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.
Richard Lariviere, president of the University of Oregon, released a white paper Tuesday that suggests that the state replace annual appropriations with funds that would allow bonds to be issued to build up the university's endowment over a 30-year period. As The Oregonian reported, he argues that such a shift would allow the university to have more budget stability and to improve its programs. Key lawmakers, while not ruling out the idea, are making clear that they are skeptics. Dave Hunt, speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the idea sounded like giving a 30-year advance to his children on their allowances. "It has a way of getting spent more quickly, and mom and dad don't have accountability anymore," he said.
Students at the University of California at Berkeley have ended a 10-day hunger strike, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The university did not agree to many of the students' demands related to campus protests and the new immigration law in Arizona, but officials condemned the law and agreed to study the campus code of conduct.