WASHINGTON -- National Institutes of Health officials told U.S. senators Tuesday that budget cuts imposed on the agency this year would lower applicants' odds of winning a research grant to roughly one in six, an all-time low. Francis S. Collins, the NIH's director, made that statement at a hearing of a Senate appropriations subcommittee to discuss President Obama's proposal for a 2.4 percent increase in spending on the agency in 2012 -- an increase that advocates for biomedical research say is inadequate, but that could be threatened by House Republican plans for major cuts in federal spending. Collins said that the NIH provided research support to about 20 percent of grant applicants in the 2010 fiscal year, but that that figure would drop in 2011 and could fall much further if the House cuts for 2012 are enacted.
Higher Education Quick Takes
An outbreak of a norovirus (or similar virus) has led Spring Arbor University to postpone its commencement, scheduled for May 14, until May 21. More than 170 students are ill.
As Speaker of the House John Boehner prepares to address graduates of the Catholic University of America Saturday, a group of professors at Roman Catholic colleges and universities has publicly rebuked the Ohio Republican for, they say, abandoning church teachings on social justice with a legislative agenda that neglects "the desperate needs of the poor." Saying they hope Boehner's visit to Catholic will "reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of social justice," the scholars specifically cite his leadership on a 2012 House budget that, they say, would remove "long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society," and that they call "particularly cruel to pregnant women and children." A spokesman for Boehner said the Congressman will be honored to deliver the speech and receive an honorary degree "from the only Catholic college in our country that is chartered by Catholic bishops.”
A federal jury on Wednesday convicted Phil Hamilton, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, of bribery and extortion in relation to a job he received at Old Dominion University, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Hamilton was charged with, as a powerful state legislator, obtaining $500,000 in state funds for Old Dominion to create a program he went on to lead as director of the university's Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership. Hamilton has denied wrongdoing.
The Presidential Oversight Committee of the Bowl Championship Series announced Wednesday that the Fiesta Bowl will remain part of the BCS -- the controversial group of contests that determines the national champion in big-time college football -- but that it must pay a $1 million fine for illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending. Duane Woods, the Fiesta Bowl's chairman, told the Associated Press: “The Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors understands and accepts the sanctions imposed by the BCS. We think that these tough but fair measures are consistent with our commitment to reform the Fiesta Bowl's governance and rebuild trust.” Bob Williams, spokesman for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, wrote in a statement: “The BCS task force actions regarding the Fiesta Bowl are serious and constructive steps in the right direction. The NCAA postseason bowl licensing subcommittee will review the task force report as it considers whether to reaffirm the Fiesta Bowl ... for the coming season. The subcommittee is planning to meet next week and expects to make a decision in the near future.”
Authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide the shooting deaths of two men and one woman in a parking garage at San Jose State University, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The dead are connected to the university, but their names have not been released.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican and chair of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, said Wednesday that Congress “will take steps to reauthorize” the Workforce Investment Act “in the coming months.” The legislation was enacted in 1998 to fund training programs for displaced workers and the unemployed, but it has not been formally renewed since. Many career and technical education advocates have pushed for significant changes to be made to the law when Congress considers it again. At a hearing entitled “Removing Inefficiencies in the Nation’s Job Training Programs,” Foxx said “there are still areas where overlapping programs or services could be further consolidated and improved.” In March, a Government Accountability Office report “identified 47 separate job training programs administered by 9 federal agencies” and that 44 of those 47 programs “overlap with at least one other program.”
WASHINGTON -- Leaders in the House of Representatives on Wednesday set budget targets that would require the appropriations subcommittee that allocates funds for education, health and labor programs to cut more than $18 billion from the 2011 levels for those programs. The targets -- known in Washington budget parlance as 302(b) allocations -- tell the various spending subcommittees how much money they have to work with to divvy up among the various programs under their jurisdiction. The allocation to the panel that provides funds to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments would receive $139.2 billion, $18.2 billion less than the programs are receiving in 2011 and $41.6 billion less than President Obama proposed in February. An allocation of this sort would force lawmakers to choose among many programs that matter to colleges and universities -- student aid and institutional support from the Education Department, biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, job training programs at the Labor Department -- all of which fall under the same subcommittee.
The American Council on Education and other higher education groups are asking federal officials for flexibility on visa and other rules for the approximately 2,000 Libyan nationals studying in the United States, many of them with family members. The letter from the council noted that most of these students are funded by the Libyan government, and are currently unable to obtain funds or to return home.