The Department of Veterans Affairs pledged Wednesday that it is prepared to process benefits requests in a timely way as the spring semester gets started. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill started last year, the VA has paid more than $1.3 billion in benefits to more than 170,000 students. At the start of the fall semester, many veterans and the colleges that were enrolling them reported serious delays in the certification of students and delivery of their benefits. Wednesday's statement acknowledged that some students faced "financial hardships" as a result. The new statement said that the VA has processed over 72,000 of the approximately 103,000 spring enrollments received.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Northwestern College, in Minnesota, is facing an "identity crisis," The Star Tribune reported. Some students and alumni accuse the college of trying to weed out traditional professors and trustees and to shift toward a "postmodern" theology, the newspaper said. Administrators and trustees say that no philosophical shift has taken place and that the controversy is all the work of a small group of disgruntled alumni.
Many who are affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine -- which has for years been independent of Baylor University -- are worried about discussions going on to merge back into the university, The Houston Chronicle reported. A petition and many faculty comments raise questions about Baylor University's religious ties and whether they would interfere with work at the medical college that is based on evolution or deals with sexual orientation or uses stem cells, to name but a few of the concerns. Baylor College of Medicine officials say that the talks with the university would not change the medical school's non-sectarian status. The medical college is facing serious financial challenges, and the current talks follow the collapse of merger talks with Rice University.
The University of California Board of Regents is expected this week to approve incentive pay of $3.1 million for executives at the university's medical centers, and once again the university is being criticized for the extra funds it offers senior administrators, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. University officials say that the incentive pay rewards officials who met certain goals and that these goals improve patient care. But unions representing health care workers say that the administrators are being rewarded in part for efficiency, which leads to policies that result in understaffing of nurses. While incentive pay also is awarded to the rank and file, the unions note the gap between the average incentive payment to an administrator ($81,579) and everyone else ($1,391).
Residents of college towns complain all the time about students whose parties keep them up or leave messes in the neighborhood. Some Berkeley residents have gone a step further, and they are suing more than 70 fraternities and property owners in the area near the University of California at Berkeley, saying that the actions of those living in the houses make it impossible for others to live in the area, The Contra Costa Times reported.
The University of Manitoba has suspended the gym memberships of 80 students after linking them to a Facebook group that was promoting a fight club meeting in a squash court on the campus, The Winnipeg Free Press reported. The Facebook group has since been deleted.
The following meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
- Annual conference, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Jan. 25-28, Washington.
- Endowment Management Forum, National Association of College and University Business Officers, Jan. 27-29, New York.
- 20th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference, University of California at Los Angeles Center for the Study of Women, Feb. 5, Los Angeles.
- National Legislative Summit, Association of Community College Trustees and American Association of Community Colleges, Feb. 8-10, Washington.
- Central Division Annual Meeting, American Philosophical Association, Feb. 17-20, Chicago.
- Annual meeting, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Feb. 18-22, San Diego.
To submit a listing, click here.
Education fund raisers are projecting a 3.7 percent increase in giving during 2010, according to a survey being released today by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. CASE is expecting final figures for 2009 to show a slight decline in giving. If the projection is correct, it would still be a smaller increase than was the norm before the economic downturn hit, but would still be welcomed by many colleges in comparison to 2009's performance.
Students, alumni and supporters of Mississippi's three public historically black universities marked Martin Luther King Day by marching in Jackson to protest Gov. Haley Barbour's plan to merge two of the institutions, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State Universities, into Jackson State University, WJTV reported. While the governor says the plan will save money, advocates for the college argue that it will limit opportunities for black students.
The Middle East Studies Association has become the latest scholarly organization to face criticism for plans to hold a meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, which is the subject of a boycott by some gay rights and labor groups, angry over the owner's large contributions to the fight against gay marriage. The association issued a statement indicating that it was not moving its meeting. The board said that it surveyed members, received a large number of answers and found the following: "Of those who did respond, fully 71 percent indicated that they would attend the meeting at the hotel. Many respondents also expressed the opinion that MESA should adhere to its mission of fostering the study of the Middle East and that the Board of Directors should exercise due financial responsibility with regard to the association’s finances. Many respondents also suggested that, in any case, it would be impossible for the Association to reflect the diverse views of its entire membership with regard to a whole host of political and social issues." The American Historical Association met at the hotel this month, leading to a rally against using the facility.