Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 21, 2012 - 4:20am

James E. Hunton, a prominent accounting professor at Bentley University, has resigned amid an investigation of the retraction of an article of which he was the co-author, The Boston Globe reported. A spokeswoman cited "family and health reasons" for the departure, but it follows the retraction of an article he co-wrote in the journal Accounting Review. The university is investigating the circumstances that led to the journal's decision to retract the piece.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Connie Shemo of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh explains the connection between the women’s foreign mission movement of the early twentieth century and two pioneering female doctors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Late Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed legislation aimed at requiring colleges to be more transparent about how they serve veterans. The bill, which was approved during gridlock on Capitol Hill, had received broad support from veterans' groups, for-profit institutions and advocates for traditional higher education. First introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican, the legislation was less sweeping than a related Senate bill that quickly stalled.

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Congress still has not reached a deal to avert the combination of tax increases and spending cuts -- collectively known as the "fiscal cliff" -- that go into effect Jan. 2. Either a compromise on long-term deficit reduction and tax reform, or the spending cuts that will go into effect if a deal is not reached, will have big implications for federal financial aid and scientific research, as well as other programs important to higher education.

The spending cuts, known as sequestration, are required by the Budget Control Act, the compromise that increased the federal borrowing limit in August 2011. If Congress does not reach a deal, most domestic discretionary programs will be cut by 8.2 percent, including funds for federal research and for some financial aid programs, such as federal work-study. (The Pell Grant is exempt from the cuts in 2013.)

Also on Jan. 2, several tax breaks related to higher education will expire, chief among them the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which currently provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 for college tuition for up to four years. If not renewed, the tuition credit will be limited to two years and will drop to $2,000. The limit for contributing to Coverdell education savings accounts wil drop from $2,000 to $500 per year, and student loan interest will not be deductible for higher earners.

But colleges have found something to fear in proposed compromises as well -- especially those that suggest limiting charitable deductions, part of President Obama's plan to increase tax revenue.

Even if Congress does not reach a deal in time, few expect immediate effects at colleges, as an agreement in 2013 is likely to be retroactive.

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 3:00am

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.


Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 3:00am

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.


Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Ian Kaplan of Purdue University explores the complex ecological and biological relationship between predators and their prey. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 4:23am

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.


Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 4:26am

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.


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