Higher Education Quick Takes
Bobby Ukrop, a longtime supporter and trustee of the University of Richmond has quit the board amid debate over the institution's plan to replace soccer and track teams with lacrosse, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. He resigned after the board refused to reconsider the decision.
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, will remain chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the next Congress, Harkin announced Wednesday. "I intend to move forward with bills to ensure that all Americans are able to achieve the promise of a quality education – beginning in early childhood, continuing through elementary and high school, and culminating with higher education," Harkin said in a statement.
The board of the District of Columbia voted Wednesday to fire Allen L. Sessoms as president, The Washington Post reported. A statement read by the board chair said that the trustees decided to go "in a different direction," but did not provide details. During the four years Sessoms was president, he helped create the university's community college -- a step many have said was long overdue for Washington. But Sessoms has been criticized for his travel expenses, and he has of late been proposing plans for significant budget cuts, including layoffs.
Reports of sexual assaults at the three U.S. military academies are up 23 percent this year, the Associated Press reported. Nearly half of the 80 reported cases involved victims who sought medical assistance but who did not seek investigations of the incidents.
A group of faculty members and other educators across a variety of institutions are calling on financial services organization TIAA-CREF, which oversees pension plans for 3.7 million individuals, including many higher education faculty members, to divest from companies that manufacture the types of rifles used in the shooting last week in Newton, Conn., and the shooting in Aurora, Colo., in July. TIAA-CREF invests in the two companies, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., as part of indexed investment strategies designed to replicate performance of market indexes. The push comes on the heels of the announcement by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management that it would sell its stake in another weapons manufacturer. A spokesman for TIAA-CREF declined to comment on the group's request.
City College of San Francisco is 3,000 students short of an enrollment threshold for state funding, which will lead to an expected budget hit of $6.5 million, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The embattled college, which is facing an accreditation crisis, will lay off 34 clerical workers, 20-30 part-time instructors and 18 part-time counselors to cope with the shortfall, and will also slash salaries for non-union employees. A CCSF trustee attributed the enrollment dip to bad planning by the college and an improving local economy.
Scientists in Spain have been holding protests all week over cuts to research budgets, Nature reported. Government spending on science has been cut by 39 percent since 2009. In Madrid, scientists released balloons to symbolize the departure of talent from the country.
Stanford University Press has started inviting authors to donate some or all of their royalties to a new fund with the goal of publishing more books by younger scholars. Alan Harvey, director of the press, said a few thousand dollars has been raised so far, and that more is likely -- especially when authors of some of the most popular books join the program. The funds will be set aside so that when the press is considering its ability to publish promising work by a young scholar, there is extra money available.
Representative Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced a bill in Congress on Monday that would restructure federal student loans, making all repayment income-based and withholding payments directly from borrower's paychecks through the Internal Revenue Service. The loans would be unsubsidized. Petri, who was an early supporter of direct lending, has proposed such a program before with little result; his latest bill, H.R. 6674, has no cosponsors.
Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he supported the bill, arguing it could "nearly eliminate student loan default." A similar system is used in Australia and has occasionally been mentioned as a model for the United States as concern about student debt has grown.