The Alabama Legislature reached a deal Thursday that will keep the state's prepaid tuition program functioning, the Associated Press reported. With the 2008 collapse of stock values, the funds invested by the state on parents' behalf no longer appear sufficient to pay the tuition of those who paid to join the plan. Some in the state have worried that the bailout would amount to a large infusion of funds to a program that largely benefits the middle class or wealthy who participate at a time that colleges that primarily serve low-income students are short on funds. In the end, the deal will provide $548 million over 17 years to maintain the program. And in a move that is being criticized, the deal requires public universities to limit tuition increases for program participants, but exempts Auburn University and the University of Alabama systems.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The national leadership of the Kappa Alpha Order has banned members from wearing Confederate uniforms to "Old South" parties that have been a tradition for many chapters, the Associated Press reported. At some campuses, the parties and uniforms have been seen as racially insensitive. A statement from the executive director announcing the rule said: "In today's climate, the order can ill afford to offend our host institutions and fend off significant negative national press and remain effective at our core mission, which is to aid young men in becoming better community leaders and citizens."
California needs to revise its famous master plan for higher education by admitting many more students to universities, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. The report argues that the relatively small percentages of students the plan envisions receiving a bachelor's degree are insufficient in today's economy. The analysis calls for the University of California to serve the top 15 percent of the state’s high school students (compared to today's goal of the top 12.5 percent) and for the California State University campuses to serve the top 40 percent (as opposed to the top 33 percent today). The report also calls for stricter rules to assure smooth transfers from the state's community colleges to its universities.
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced an agreement with Troy University that resolved a complaint that the institution had violated federal law by terminating Cleopatra Jones from a position in human resources while she was on military leave, and then failing to give her a position upon the conclusion of her military service. The university has agreed to pay Jones $36,960 and to take steps to avoid future violations of laws regarding the employment rights of those in the military.
The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to regulate stem cell research, barring the sale or purchase of human eggs and requiring universities to file annual reports on how many embryos they are using, The Detroit News reported. University officials in the state opposed the measures -- backed by anti-abortion politicians who oppose stem cell research -- saying that they would needlessly complicate doing research that is regulated by federal agencies and that has great potential for yielding medical breakthroughs.
Quebec officials are blasting a McGill University plan to raise tuition substantially for its M.B.A. program -- to $30,000 from about $1,700. McGill officials said that they increases are needed to preserve the quality of the program, and that the new rates wouldn't be outside the norms for top programs. But The Globe and Mail reported that Quebec is threatening to hold back about $30,000 in provincial funding for each Quebec resident admitted to the M.B.A. program, if the university goes ahead with its plan.
The Association of American Universities on Wednesday announced that it had invited the Georgia Institute of Technology to become a member -- an offer the institute accepted immediately. Georgia Tech brings AAU membership to 63. The association is an invitation-only group whose members are selected on the basis of the breadth and quality of research and graduate programs, among other qualities. While universities do not formally apply to become members, many let it be known that they would like to be considered. Three quarters of existing members must approve any expansion. Georgia Tech is the first new member in nine years.
The Arizona Board of Regents has agreed to pay $700,000 to 41 individuals in the Havasupai tribe to compensate them for the use of their blood in research that they believe they never authorized, Indian Country Today reported. The tribe members say that they believed they gave blood samples only for limited use in a diabetes study, and that they later found out about much broader use -- including in studies that they never would have authorized. While Arizona State University officials denied wrongdoing, the regents agreed to settle the case.
American college students -- cut off from social media for 24 hours -- use the same words to describe their feelings as as associated with those addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to a new study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, at the University of Maryland at College Park. In the study, 200 Maryland students were asked to abstain from using social media for 24 hours and then to write their feelings. The words frequently used: in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery and crazy.
Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at Maryland and the director of the center that conducted the study, said that students see social media as key to their relationships with others. She said that researchers "noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family."
The new union for non-tenure-track faculty members at Western Michigan University has negotiated a first contract with the university. The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, hasn't released details of the contract yet. A statement from Karl Schrock, the president of the union, said: "We are pleased with the improvements to our working conditions that will occur as a result of this first contract. At a time when other state employees have experienced wage reductions, reduced security and take-backs, we have been able to secure modest gains on all fronts."