Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Western Ontario is changing its name and rebranding itself as Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. The university will remain in Ontario, but officials believe that they will be better able to build an international reputation without the province in the name. Some alumni are poking fun at the change.
Update: The Obama administration has released a fact sheet with full details of the plan President Obama will discuss in a speech today on college prices and costs.
President Obama is planning to talk about the specifics of his college affordability plan today at the University of Michigan, and leaked details appear in The New York Times. According to the Times, the proposal will focus on campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and work-study, with funds linked to colleges' ability to control college prices and to show that they are providing value to students. The plan will also seek to require colleges to provide more information about financial aid packages (to help families compare offers) and about the earnings and job placements of graduates. The administration will also propose a $1 billion competition (modeled on the Race to the Top program for the states on elementary and secondary education) that would reward states that meet certain goals.
Obama administration officials told the Times that major parts of the program -- including a substantial increase in Perkins Loan funding -- would not require more federal funds, because the funds are repaid and create a revolving fund for future loans. However, Congress would have to approve the plan -- and Congressional approval of any Obama administration proposal is uncertain in an election year when Republicans control the House and have the ability to block most legislation in the Senate.
A group of presidents from 12 research universities are calling for restored federal investment in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, which had its budget slashed by 54 percent last year. The department's research arm works with universities to create technologies to guard against terrorist attacks and disasters, according to a letter from the group to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security. Research funded by the department "will lead to critical breakthroughs in national security," they said. The signers including the presidents of Carnegie Mellon, Drexel, George Washington, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities; the State University of New York at Buffalo; the Universities of Delaware, Maryland at College Park, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The National Council on Teacher Quality is suing the University of Wisconsin for access to the syllabuses used in teacher education programs throughout the system, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The council is in the process of rating teacher education programs in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report. While the council has some support in the teacher ed world, many deans are dubious of the council's methodology, and accuse it of unfairly bashing programs. The council wants to review syllabuses to see what material is covered in courses, and has had success in obtaining such information from other public universities. But University of Wisconsin officials maintain that a syllabus is subject by copyright, and thus is not covered by the state's public records law.
U.S. authorities have arrested Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an assistant professor at Sharif University of Technology, in Iran, and charged him with violating U.S. export laws by purchasing high-tech lab equipment, the Associated Press reported. He is being held in California.
Many followed the story of Patrick J. Witt, the star quarterback at Yale University, who in November said he was withdrawing his Rhodes Scholarship application, preferring to play the football game against Harvard University than skip the contest for a Rhodes interview. But The New York Times reported that, at the time Witt made that announcement, he already knew that he was no longer in contention for a Rhodes. The Rhodes committee had found out that Witt had been accused by a fellow student of sexual assault. The committee said it would only keep Witt's candidacy alive if Yale would again endorse him. The Times also reported that Witt is no longer enrolled at Yale, and that he did not graduate. Yale officials declined to discuss the case, citing confidentiality. Witt did not respond to requests for comment.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to require public colleges to tell all undocumented students receiving in-state tuition that they are required to seek legal status to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The requirement does not change the fundamental willingness of Texas to provide these students with in-state tuition rates. But the new regulation follows the unsuccessful campaign by Governor Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination -- a campaign in which he was attacked by many conservatives for the Texas tuition policy for these students.