Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has announced he will sign legislation headed to his desk that will eliminate legislative scholarships, GateHouse News Service reported. The scholarships -- in which legislators give away scholarships to public universities -- have long been controversial but have survived many previous attempts to kill them. "There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois,” the governor said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly advocated, scholarships -- paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was sentenced Monday in a New Jersey county courthouse to 30 days in jail, three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine for his actions leading up to the suicide of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on Clementi kissing another man, while other students looked on, faced up to 10 years in state prison. He was found guilty on charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after the incident took place; Ravi was not charged in direct connection with Clementi’s death. Ravi is still subject to deportation to his native India, but the judge said he will recommend that the 20-year-old be allowed to stay in the United States. Ravi is slated to begin his jail term May 31; his lawyers say they will appeal the sentence.
An audit by the Los Angeles Community College District has found that nearly $100,000 in checks to the head of the Los Angeles Trade Tech foundation may have been forged, The Los Angeles Times reported. The forgery is of the signature of Trade Tech's president, Roland Chapdelaine. Rhea Chung, the foundation head, is on leave pending an investigation, but has denied all wrongdoing and said that checks she received were appropriate. The auditors said that they could not say who may have forged the president's signature.
Google is allocating part of its New York offices to Cornell University and Technion -- the Israel Institute of Technology to help the universities grow their presence in the city while they wait on construction of their joint campus on Roosevelt Island, the city, universities, and company announced today. The Roosevelt Island campus, the result of a months-long competition primarily between Cornell and Stanford University, is designed to focus on applied sciences and stimulate the city's technology sector. City and university administrators hailed Google's move as an opportunity to bring the universities closer to the types of companies it hopes to develop. Google is initially providing 22,000 square feet of office space free of charge and is giving Cornell the option of expanding to 58,000 square feet over five years.
The University of Notre Dame has joined 42 other Roman Catholic institutions -- including three other colleges -- in filing suit against the Obama administration over a rule that would require most religious institutions to offer employee (and student) health insurance plans that cover contraception at no cost. Colleges, Catholic dioceses, charities and other organizations filed 12 separate lawsuits Monday, alleging that the requirement infringes on their religious freedom. Catholic University of America and St. Francis University also sued, as did Franciscan University of Steubenville, which recently chose to discontinue its student health plan rather than offer insurance covering contraception.
Also on Monday, Ave Maria University announced that it would stop offering student health insurance rather than comply with the federal rules, The News-Press reported.
Religious institutions have sparred with the Obama administration for months over the call to include contraceptive services as part of a broad array of preventive medical care. A compromise -- that insurers, not institutions, would pay for the contraceptive coverage -- did little to quell the outrage among Catholic and some evangelical Protestant colleges, who view the new mandate as an assault on religious freedom.
New State Department guidance could complicate some activities at Confucius Institutes, which operate on many American college and university campuses. The guidance says that the J-1 visa program, through which many scholars from China come to the institutes, does not permit any teaching in elementary and secondary schools (which some scholars have done). Further, the guidance says that Chinese language courses taught at the institutes must be part of colleges' foreign language offerings or separately accredited. Some of the institutes may not meet those criteria. Many colleges have welcomed the institutes for the infusion of Chinese programming they bring to campuses, while others worry about ties to the Chinese government and an emphasis on non-controversial topics.
Many American physicists are worried that the United States is losing its edge in their discipline, The New York Times reported. The article cites instances in which key breakthroughs by American scientists must be followed by work in Europe or elsewhere because of a lack of support in the United States. “While it’s great to support other missions,” Adam Riess, a Nobel laureate at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times, "it would be disappointing to see the U.S. lose or outsource its own leading role in one of the hottest areas of research.”
A week after a federal judge rejected most of the claims brought by three publishers against Georgia State University, the Association of American University Presses issued a statement that raised questions about the decision. Librarians in higher education have generally cheered the decision -- which focuses on e-reserves -- for rejecting the publishers' claims. But the university press association, which has backed the publishers, said it was "premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat." At the same time, the association said of the ruling: "[I]ts interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record."
Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, gave a talk Friday to graduates of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, despite opposition from some Roman Catholic groups. Critics said that Sebelius's involvement in the Obama administration's health care policies -- including requirements that employees have access to birth control coverage, contrary to Roman Catholic teachings -- made her an inappropriate speaker at a Catholic institution. During her appearance, one audience member stood up and shouted "You're a murderer" at Sebelius, The Washington Post reported, but she continued to speak and received an "enthusiastic" response from the graduates. In her talk, Sebelius said that a "process of conversation and compromise" is required when dealing with religious issues and public policy.