Higher Education Quick Takes
John V. Lombardi has a reputation as a higher education administrator for raising tough issues, attracting strong faculty and student support, and then clashing with his superiors. That was the pattern at the University of Florida and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. That pattern has now repeated itself at Louisiana State University, where he was fired as system president on Friday. Board members said that Lombardi had failed to build key relationships, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. He had pushed to move beyond budget-cutting (which he said was equivalent to rearranging deck chairs) and to instead look at new sources of revenue (such as tuition increases and reallocating funds from a popular statewide merit scholarship program). Those views and others placed him in disagreement with Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. (Editor's Note: Lombardi is also a blogger for Inside Higher Ed.)
Portland State University warned students and employees on Thursday that it had suspended a graduate student and barred him from the campus after he had allegedly made "threats of violence against the PSU community," The Oregonian reported.
The Education Department just finished two rounds of negotiated rule making on financial aid issues -- one on student loan regulations and one on the rules that govern financial aid for teacher preparation programs -- but is already planning a third. The department will focus on creating new regulations to prevent fraud in financial aid programs, as well as possibly changing financial aid delivery to electronic funds transfers. The department may also "update and streamline" the rules for campus-based financial aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and Federal Work-Study, wrote David Bergeron, deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning, and innovation in the department's Office of Postsecondary Education.
Public hearings on the rule making process are scheduled for May 23 in Phoenix and May 31 in Washington, D.C.
Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid would have little effect on eligibility for need-based state grants, according to a College Board study that could allay the concerns about relying only on Internal Revenue Service data -- not a more detailed listing of a student or parent's income and assets -- when awarding financial aid. The authors of the report, "Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean For States," examined the possible consequences of relying only on data transferred from the IRS, which would make filling out the complex form much less difficult for students. (Some fear that the application process itself discourages students who would qualify for need-based financial aid.)
In a sample of five states that award need-based grants, the simpler form would have little effect: the number of eligible students decreased by less than 1 percent in Kentucky and Ohio and would increase slightly in Minnesota, Texas and Vermont, the study's authors found.
The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that public colleges and universities do not have the right to bar guns in student or employee vehicles on campuses, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Kentucky does permit its colleges and universities to bar guns on the persons of people on campuses. But the Supreme Court said that going beyond that would be "contrary to a fundamental policy, the right to bear arms."
Top Russian universities may be poised to use debt to finance major improvements in their facilities, according to a new report by Standard & Poor's. The Moscow Times reported that the S&P report follows a new Russian law giving about 30 universities new financial authority, opening up the possibility for them to use debt. The report found that Russian universities -- which have depended on government grants for facilities -- lag their international peers in investments in their physical plants.
Two students at the Berlin University of the Arts are offending many with an unusual project. Reuters reported that the students have built a guillotine and posted a video of themselves doing so, and are letting the public vote on whether or not to use the guillotine to kill a lamb. The video may be a stunt, as a spokeswoman for the university said that the students were not serious about killing the lamb and were only trying to create an "artistic provocation." Almost 300,000 people have voted, with a majority favoring the lamb's continued life.
Creighton University has announced plans to sell its struggling medical center in Omaha to a regional health care network. The university, which sold off a large share of the hospital's ownership to another health care company, Tenet, in 1995, said Wednesday that Alegent Health would buy the entire Creighton University Medical Center, and that Alegent would become the university's primary partner for its medical and other health professions students. The university did not disclose the terms of the deal.
The conference commissioners and other college football bigwigs who run the Bowl Championship Series emerged from a three-day meeting saying they had reached general agreement for the first time on creating a playoff to decide the sport's annual champion each year, the Associated Press reported. The BCS, the sport's current method of picking a winner each year, has been much derided by sports fans and others, but opposition to a playoff has come from some college presidents and from those in college football (particularly in the Big Ten and Pacific-12 Conferences) loyal to the bowl games, which many believe would be threatened under a playoff system.
Details of the new arrangement have yet to be worked out (and college presidents were generally not involved in the discussions), but a four-game playoff is likely. “Yes, we’ve agreed to use the P word,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told the AP.