State community college leaders say they are struggling to meet workforce training needs because of high unemployment levels and budget woes, according to a new report from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. The report, which was based on a survey of two-year system leaders in 50 states, found strained job training capacities at community colleges in 35 states. And federal workforce training funds have been exhausted in 21 states, according to the report. "Right now, workforce training is an underfunded Band-Aid," said Stephen G. Katsinas, the center's director and a coauthor of the report.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A federal advisory panel has asked scientific journals not to publish some details of experiments involving certain viruses, saying that the information could be used by terrorists to create and spread deadly viruses, The New York Times reported. The panel does not have the power to force the journals to keep anything secret, and suggested that the journals find ways to share information with scientists to allow them to further advance work on the viruses. The editor of Science said that the journal was considering the request and might hold back some information.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Board of Directors moved unusually quickly at its October meeting to approve legislation that would allow institutions (if their conference permits it) to award up to an additional $2,000 per student in scholarship funds, to better fill the gap between what full scholarships cover and the actual cost of attendance. Maybe too quickly, in fact: 125 colleges want the decision overturned, prompting an automatic suspension of the rule and an item on the docket for the board's next meeting Jan. 14 that could eliminate it entirely. At the meeting, the board can eliminate the rule, do nothing and allow an override vote by all Division I members to proceed, or alter the proposal to appease the colleges.
Collectively, they are concerned about four things, the NCAA said: how quickly the rule was implemented, possible impact on competitive equity, implications for gender equity laws under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and "application of the allowance" for athletes in equivalency sports, which are subject to NCAA limitations on how much scholarship money they can award. NCAA President Mark Emmert indicated in a statement that the legislation can be modified to address all the colleges' concerns. "Similarly, changes can be made that will clarify how this legislation can be implemented more smoothly and with less confusion," Emmert said. "Based on conversations I have had, I am confident that there remains a very high level of support for this permissive legislation to provide better support for our student athletes."
The National Association for College Admission Counseling has named the members of a panel studying the use of agents -- paid in part on commission -- to recruit international students. The practice has been deeply controversial within the association, and its leaders hope the panel can point to principles that can guide colleges. The panel includes some college admissions leaders whose colleges use the agents, and others who do not. NACAC officials said that they wanted a range of views represented on the committee.
Indian lawmakers are considering another round of changes in legislation -- closely watched by universities in the United States and other countries -- that would allow non-Indian universities to open degree-granting campuses in India, Indian Express reported. Some of the changes would make it easier for prominent institutions, by allowing those deemed "reputed" to bypass some of the regulatory processes being created. Other changes may be challenging for some institutions' plans. For example, one change would require Indian officials to make sure that the addition of foreign institutions does not exacerbate inequities between rural and urban areas, given the concentration of universities today in urban areas. Many foreign institutions are likely to want to be in urban areas as well, but the bill would encourage the government to give preference to institutions locating in rural, less developed parts of the country.
Rebuffing a request by Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, the board of Florida A&M University decided Monday not to suspend James Ammons as president, The Miami Herald reported. The governor has pushed for the suspension amid an investigation into hazing in the university's marching band, hazing that has led to several arrests in recent weeks and that has been blamed in the death of a student. The board has already reprimanded Ammons, but resisted the governor's request. “We will stand firm against outside influence regardless of how well intended,” said the board chair, Solomon Badger.
The University of Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong have teamed up to recruit top students from China, Times Higher Education reported. Students will be recruited to the University of Hong Kong with the promise that the best among them, after a successful year there, will be offered a spot at Cambridge.
The faculty, key administrators and the board of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have all now approved a new system for faculty governance, potentially ending a long conflict between faculty leaders and President Shirley Ann Jackson. The dispute over faculty governance started in 2006, when the Faculty Senate voted to extend voting rights to non-tenure-track faculty members and the administration objected, saying that the Faculty Senate could not do so, given the role of faculty committees in topics such as tenure review. As the dispute escalated, RPI killed the body, replaced it with a new interim body, and was widely criticized by faculty groups such as the American Association of University Professors. The new constitution for faculty governance authorizes the election of non-tenure-track faculty members for some seats in the Faculty Senate and on some (but not all) committees.
The Albany Times Union reported that the adoption of the new constitution may signal an improvement of relations between professors and Jackson, although the article noted that the student government at RPI recently asked the institute's board to remove Jackson (a request the board rejected). The Times Union also noted that RPI's accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, has been pushing for a restoration of a faculty governance system.
Missouri State University officials are apologizing for the actions of their band, which played "Dixie" at the dedication of a park where three black men were lynched in 1906, The Springfield News-Leader reported. Black leaders complained that the selection was offensive. Missouri State officials said that the band leader did not understand the historical significance of the song, and that it would not again be performed at public events.