WASHINGTON -- While the Pell Grant is exempt from the mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March, other federal higher education grants are not. Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants, for the children of members of the military killed in action, have been cut back by 10 percent for new recipients beginning March 1, the Education Department announced in guidance issued Friday. TEACH Grants, for students planning to become teachers in high-need areas, have been reduced by 7.1 percent.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Jim Geddes, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, is calling on liberal arts departments at the flagship campus at Boulder to hire more professors who are conservatives, The Daily Camera reported. Boulder has long been seen as a liberal campus, and the university recently filled a new visiting position in conservative thought. But Geddes said that more action is needed. "If I were sending one of my children off to college, I'd tell them I want you to go to a university where you are going to hear smart intellectuals on both sides of issues so you can learn for yourself and form your own opinions," Geddes said. "I wouldn't be in favor of sending my child to a purely conservative university. They've already had that course their whole life living with me." He said that departments that lack conservatives should seek them out and hire them.
The Internal Revenue Service last week released a report documenting its findings from a series of audits it conducted stemming from a broad, six-year review of tax compliance at hundreds of colleges. The report contained relatively few surprises, given that the revenue service had previewed its conclusions in previous analyses at earlier stages of its comprehensive review. The major findings of the Colleges and Universities Compliance Project Final Report focused, among other things, on colleges' improperly unrelated business income losses from activities that did not qualify because the agency determined that they had not been conducted with the purpose of making a profit.
Colleges should not retaliate against students who raise a civil rights complaint – either with an individual institution or with the federal government – The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out last week. “Discriminatory practices are often only raised and remedied when students, parents, teachers, coaches, and others can report such practices to school administrators without the fear of retaliation,” the letter reads. “Individuals should be commended when they raise concerns about compliance with the Federal civil rights laws, not punished for doing so.”
In February, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student said the campus judicial filed charges against her after she spoke out about her rape and what she said was a flawed Honor Court hearing. Administrators initially said they couldn’t intervene because the court is student-run, but UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp suspended the proceedings the following month when the student filed a federal complaint alleging retaliation.
It’s been a little over two years since OCR began cracking down on sexual assault with a dear colleague letter reminding colleges of their responsibilities to address the issue under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In recent months, students have filed Title IX complaints regarding sexual discrimination and subsequent mistreatment by their universities at a handful of institutions, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Occidental College and Swarthmore University.
Three Pennsylvania institutions -- Marywood University, Keystone College and Lackawanna College -- have removed Robert J. Mellow's name from their buildings, The Times Leader reported. Mellow was previously a powerful state legislator. But he is now in jail, after he pleaded guilty last year to under-reporting his income for his 2008 tax return, and committing mail fraud by using his Senate staff members to perform political duties for himself and others.
WASHINGTON -- As Congress begins the long process of renewing the Higher Education Act, the leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce published an open letter to higher education "stakeholders" Thursday, asking for suggestions on rewriting the sweeping law governing federal financial aid programs. Representatives are especially interested in a few areas, they wrote: empowering "students as consumers"; simplifying student aid and loans; increasing affordability, accountability and completion; reducing costs; and balancing "the need for accountability with the burden of federal requirements."
In a statement, the committee's chairman, Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, emphasized paring regulations, simplifying financial aid and providing families with better information. Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, said he hoped to focus on the increasing price of higher education, student debt, barriers to completion, and community colleges.
The committee said it welcomes suggestions -- the more specific the better -- at HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov.
The University of Central Florida has suspended Hyung-il Jung, an instructor, over a comment about "a killing spree," but students say that he posed no danger and was misunderstood, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Jung told a group of students, he said, something along these lines: "This question is very difficult. It looks like you guys are being slowly suffocated by these questions. Am I on a killing spree or what?" Some students have sent a joint letter to the university saying that there is no need for the investigation Central Florida says it is conducting, and that the comment was clearly a joke.
When it comes to fighting terrorism, Canadian prime minister wants a law and order approach, not social science. The arrest of immigrants to Canada in a plot to attack a train from Canada to New York City has led to some Liberal Party politicians calling for efforts to understand why some people embrace terrorist ideologies. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, is having none of it. It comments that have attracted widespread attention, he said: "In terms of radicalization, this is obviously something we follow. Our security agencies work with each other and with others around the globe to track people who are threats to Canada and to watch threats that may evolve. I think though, this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression," The Ottawa Citizen reported.
Pearson VUE, which operates a worldwide network of testing centers for various exams, has been experiencing significant technical problems this week. The company's Facebook page features numerous comments from people unable to take their scheduled exams or to get information about when they will be able to do so. Some people are posting stories of how hours-long delays likely affected their performance on exams that are crucial to their careers. On the Facebook page, Pearson indicates that it is aware of the problems and is trying to fix them.
"We are continuing our efforts to restore normal service as quickly as possible. We are in the midst of implementing recommendations by our internal and external technology experts, but it is too soon to know how quickly this will improve system performance. Please note that there will likely be additional variations in system performance as we implement these changes," says a statement posted Thursday evening. "We fully appreciate that many of you have been significantly impacted by the circumstances over the past several days, and we will increase testing capacity and operational support to accommodate scheduling and/or rescheduling of those affected as quickly as possible once normal system performance is restored."