A lawyer told Michigan lawmakers Wednesday that a proposed bill to pave the way for community colleges to offer four-year degrees might violate the state's constitution. The Grand Rapids Press reports that lawmakers were surprised by the testimony of Leonard Wolfe, in which he said two-year colleges would need to become universities for a legal conversion, which would mean collecting no more property tax revenue. Supporters of the bill have said it would create more affordable degree paths for students in certain programs.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Occupy movement is back at the University of California at Davis, but without the tents that led to the infamous pepper spray confrontation last semester, The Sacramento Bee reported. Students this week occupied an unoccupied building on campus (the facility is being readied to hold different offices and so has been vacant) and have vowed to stay there. A university spokeswoman said that the institution was monitoring the situation.
Faculty members at the University of Oregon are announcing a drive to seek union representation in a chapter that would be affiliated jointly with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. The AFT and the AAUP have been pushing together to unionize public research university campuses -- a sector within higher education that has seen proportionally fewer faculty unions than other parts of public higher education. Oregon is a "card check" state, meaning that if half of the eligible faculty members sign a card seeking a union, there would not need to be a vote. An Oregon spokesman said via e-mail that the university's leaders "support the right of workers to organize and have maintained neutrality on the issue of a faculty union. The university seeks to simply provide factual information to assist those affected by the effort to make informed decisions."
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proposed Wednesday that the Rutgers University Camden campus be merged with Rowan University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The proposal is part of a broader higher education reform plan that would try to redefine and rename the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The governor says that the Camden-Rowan plan would create a better higher education presence in the southern part of the state. But opposition is already emerging to that part of the plan. The faculty union at Rutgers issued a statement questioning the merger, and saying that its members at Camden want to be part of a research university. While Rutgers and Rowan should cooperate more, the union says, their missions are sufficiently distinct that a merger is inappropriate.
John Chadima resigned suddenly this month as senior associate athletic director at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Tuesday night, the university revealed the reason (which has been the subject of much speculation). According to an investigation commissioned by the university, Chadima made an unwelcome sexual advance on a student employee and threatened to fire him if he reported the incident, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The advance took place after a Rose Bowl party for students who worked for the athletic program. The student said he was asked to stay after the party to drink with Chadima. Through his lawyer, Chadima released a statement in which he said that the incident "is certainly not reflective of the type of person I am, my lifestyle, my management style or my faith or beliefs.... However I make no excuses and have come to the realization that over the past few months, alcohol had controlled and consumed my life," the statement continued. "I am taking steps to correct that problem in my life at this time."
An influential New York State senator has introduced legislation to create new felony charges of "facilitation of education testing fraud" and "scheming to defraud educational testing," as well as a new misdemeanor charge of "forgery of a test," the Associated Press reported. While authorities have brought charges against students accused of paying others to take the SAT for them in Long Island, Senator Kenneth LaValle said Tuesday that more tools were needed to combat cheating. LaValle was the prime sponsor of testing legislation in the past that spread to other states, and he said that he hopes New York State will again play that role.
Israel's Higher Education Council has ordered all universities to turn over information about people without bachelor's degrees who have been admitted to graduate programs that require (at least in theory) completion of a bachelor's degree, Haaretz reported. The move follows a report in Haaretz that an anchorman-turned-politician, who lacks a bachelor's degree, was admitted to a graduate program at Bar-Ilan University.
By a vote of 128-58, members of the Faculty Senate at Pennsylvania State University voted down a proposal Tuesday to express no confidence in the trustees of the university, StateCollege.com reported. Many of those who spoke against the motion did so despite frustrations over the way the university's leaders have handled the sex abuse scandal. Jean Landa Pytel, a former Faculty Senate chair, said that it was important for faculty leaders to act in a "meaningful, constructive manner." She said that the vote would have been "seeking revenge for actions which we may not agree with as individuals," and that trustees are already aware of the way professors feel.