The Montana University System this week announced that it will rename all five of the state's public colleges of technology as well as the two-year college programs at its public universities. The new names drop the word "technology" and reflect an effort to broaden the two-year colleges' mission by offering more services and programming for both traditional-age students and adult learners, according to a news release. An enhanced systemwide identity is part of a push by system leaders to increase the number of degree-holders in the state.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A distance learning group is raising an alarm about a change to Pell Grants in a Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that, if signed into law, could cut the need-based grants for students taking online classes. A provision in the bill, which would increase the overall Pell Grant next year, would stop allowing students taking online classes to claim room and board expenses, as well as "miscellaneous personal expenses," as part of their cost of living when applying for Pell Grants.
Currently, Pell Grants take all forms of expenses into account for all students, whether they're commuters, residential students or enrolled in online or distance learning programs. Students would still be able to use those expenses when applying for student loans or other forms of financial aid. "It is hard to understand why the cost for a student’s living expenses are not allowable if the student takes online courses, but would be allowable if that same student were to commute to campus to take the same courses in a classroom," wrote Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
For many years, critics have derided "legislative scholarships" in Illinois that allow legislators to give scholarships to public universities to students in their districts, with very few limitations. On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed legislation to kill off the program, The Chicago Tribune reported. Several Tribune investigations focused on the fairness of the program. In 2009, the newspaper found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of campaign donors.
The newest sculpture at the University of California at San Diego looks like a cottage -- complete with a front lawn -- from some angles. From other angles, it looks like a tornado landed a cottage on top of an engineering building. The unusual work of art, "Fallen Star," is now open.
University presidents from institutions that are members of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities wrote a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders on Wednesday, urging them to take action to prevent the mandatory spending cuts that will kick in early next year if Congress does not act. Any agreement should continue support for scientific research and financial aid to students, while enacting changes to entitlement programs and the tax code, the college presidents wrote. "As national leaders in higher education, we urge you to show America and the world that our country's political system is capable of solving serious problems," the presidents wrote.
James H. Ammons announced Wednesday that he will resign as president of Florida A&M University in October. His letter did not detail intense criticism he has faced since last year's hazing death of a student. Since then, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the university did not act aggressively to prevent hazing in the marching band that has been linked to the hazing death and widespread hazing. The Florida A&M board has voted no confidence in Ammons, and state officials have also raised questions about financial and management problems unrelated to the hazing death.
Thirty-four percent of the presidents of Japanese universities said that class content is boring and not aligned with student interests, according to a survey by the Japanese government, Daily Yomiuri Online reported. Many presidents suggested that more participatory classroom activities were needed. Nearly 75 percent of presidents said that students weren't spending enough time studying.
The National Labor Relations Board has impounded ballots from an election at Duquesne University to decide whether adjuncts there can form a union. The ballots will be sealed until the NLRB rules on an appeal by the university. Duquesne, a Roman Catholic university, previously agreed to the election, but then decided to challenge it on the grounds that its religious affiliation exempts it from an union election. The Pittsburgh office of the NLRB denied that motion to withdraw from the election but the university appealed the decision to the national office. The election ballots were to be counted Tuesday, after a mail-in election.