WASHINGTON -- Congress drew near Wednesday afternoon to passing a stopgap spending bill that would fund the federal government through March 27, 2013, averting a government shutdown without making any changes to financial aid or research appropriations. The bill removes the threat of a government shutdown in the coming months. The Senate voted to expedite debate on the bill, which has already passed the House, and could pass it as early as today.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Association of American Universities called on the next president -- whether President Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- to address the nation's long-term financial problems, sustain the Pell Grant and student loans, and take action on immigration. In a policy paper, the association, which represents 61 research universities, said the next administration should work to pass the DREAM Act and provide a path to citizenship for foreign students graduating from American universities with degrees in science, engineering, technology and math. The association also urged the federal government to prod states to increase or maintain funding for public research universities.
A Virginia judge has blocked a bid by the American Tradition Institute to obtain e-mail records created by Michael Mann when he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. The institute is among the groups that believe that the records will raise questions about the validity of climate change research, even though there is a wide consensus among scientists that climate change is real. Mann, the university, and many academic groups believe that the attempt to obtain e-mail represents an attack on science, with the goal of intimidating researchers and denying them any privacy in their exchanges. The judge ruled that the e-mail is exempt from Virginia's open records laws under specific exemptions for communication among public faculty members while producing research. An appeal is expected.
Federal law enforcement officials and the Education Department's inspector general announced Tuesday that they had indicted 21 people for allegedly defrauding at least 15 colleges in California of at least $770,000 through what department officials have characterized as "fraud rings." Summaries of the seven alleged schemes, which were aimed at community colleges and for-profit institutions, can be found in the department's news release.
City College of San Francisco is very close to bankruptcy, in part because of its spending and personnel decisions, a state audit has found, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The study found that the college has almost twice the number of tenured faculty members per 1,000 students (24) as comparable community colleges in California. Further, the audit questioned some of the benefits employees receive, such as 23 paid holidays on top of vacation time.
Community colleges and four-year institutions have often been at odds over nursing education in the states, with conflicts over funding and who better serves the market. That tension may be ebbing, however, with the release this week of an agreement between the major nursing organizations and groups representing the community college sector. The statement stresses alignment between the organizations toward a "seamless academic progression of nursing students and nurses," with the common goal of a "well educated, diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health."
Authorities at Arkansas State University arrested Carlon Walker, a 44-year-old local man, on Tuesday for allegedly making a bomb threat against a women's dormitory. Students were evacuated from the facility (and an adjacent building), but were permitted to return after a room-by-room search of the building found nothing of danger. A spokeswoman for the university said Walker was not known to have any connection to Arkansas State, and that authorities did not believe this threat was linked to four others against colleges and universities in the last week. Those threats have not been linked either, but law enforcement officials are investigating the incidents for possible connections.
Scholars and others are protesting a plan to largely end public access to the Georgia Archives, which includes key documents and collections dating back to the Colonial era, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. State officials say that they don't like the idea, but have no choice due to budget cuts. A petition to keep the archives open has attracted more than 13,000 signatures. James R. Grossman, president of the American Historical Association, released a letter he sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, criticizing the planned closure of public access. "The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records," Grossman wrote. "Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future."
Students at OCAD University, an arts institution in Toronto, are furious about a required custom textbook for an art course for which they must pay $180, but which does not feature any illustrations. Petitions are attracting signatures. Bloggers are expressing outrage, and word is spreading. The university notes that students have access to online versions of the art discussed in the book, and that the customized textbook was an attempt to save students money by combining several books. University officials said that obtaining the rights to the art would have resulted in a huge increase in costs. Still, university officials have scheduled a meeting with students later in the week to talk about the issues.