Higher Education Quick Takes
With a vote by the House of Delegates Tuesday, both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have now confirmed Helen Dragas for another term on the University of Virginia board, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Dragas was the leader of an effort last year to oust Teresa Sullivan as president (an effort that briefly appeared to succeed). Many critics of the board's handling of the situation last year hoped legislators would block the re-appointment of Dragas. While some lawmakers opposed the move, the final vote to confirm -- 63 to 33 -- wasn't close.
The Board of Trustees at Cedarville University, a Baptist college in Ohio recently shaken by intradenominational arguments and the resignation of two administrators, voted Friday to cut the college's philosophy major and to approve the unexplained resignation of its vice president for student life. The college said the major needed to be cut due to low student interest, and that a philosophy minor will remain an option; students and alumni argued that eliminating the major damages the college's credibility as a liberal arts institution.
“The last few weeks have been difficult for our university family,” the college's acting president, John Gredy, said in a statement announcing the change. “Please join me in praying that God will bring healing to our brokenness, peace to our hearts and unity to our community.”
The Grainger Foundation has pledged $100 million for engineering programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The funds will be used for endowed chairs, scholarships and facilities.
A blueprint for an eventual overhaul of the nation's immigration system, announced Monday by a bipartisan group of eight senators, would ease the path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and award green cards to foreign students who graduate with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The plan calls for a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, and those brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age -- would-be beneficiaries of the DREAM Act -- would face fewer hurdles. The plan also calls for increased enforcement, and stipulates those measures would need to be put in place before undocumented immigrants could receive green cards.
College and university fund-raisers predict that giving to their institutions grew by an average of 5.5 percent in 2012, according to a twice-annual survey by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. If that prediction holds true, giving for 2012 would be higher than the $31.6 billion record high for the 2007-8 academic year. Fund-raisers also predict giving to grow by 5.8 percent in 2013, a rate equal to the average over the past 20 years.
The new chancellor of California's community colleges, Brice W. Harris, has written in opposition to a legal challenge to the system's shared governance structure. California Competes, a nonprofit group led by Robert Shireman, says local academic senates have illegal veto power over board actions, which contributes to a "tangled bureaucracy." Harris, however, said the shared governance regulations are lawful and good public policy. And while he said the group's intentions are well-meaning, they are "seriously flawed."
Lafayette College is considering what actions it can take with regard to underground fraternities -- organizations that lost their recognition due to various rules violations but that continue to function unofficially, The Express-Times reported. The college's interest in the issue has grown following the death of a freshman who died after drinking alcohol believed to have been provided by an underground fraternity.
Faculty leaders are questioning why the University of Toledo is putting money into an economic development unit -- University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises -- when budget cuts are increasing class sizes and eliminating sections, the Toledo Blade reported. Critics also are pointing to the $307,000 paid last year to Rick Stansley Jr., a former chair of the university's board. University officials said that there is no improper conflict, and that the agency is needed to promote the region's economy. But Mike Dowd, president of the Faculty Senate, said: "I don’t know how many universities have the former chairman of the board of trustees take a paid position from the university. Is providing funding for Rick Stansley’s activities a higher priority than providing the resources for the instructional mission of the university?"