A legislative panel in Texas released a first pass at a state budget for the next two years Tuesday night, threatening a bleak outlook for higher education and college students. With the state facing a deep deficit, the draft budget would end funding for four community colleges (Brazosport, Frank Phillips, Odessa and Ranger Colleges), cut hundreds of millions of dollars from public universities, and slash financial aid for freshmen and new students, the Associated Press reported. Over all, funds for higher education would face a 7.6 percent cut, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The chancellor of the State University of New York will propose in a speech today making campuses in the massive state system compete for some state funds to spur changes, the Associated Press reported. Details were skimpy on the performance-based funding proposal, which an unidentified SUNY official discussed with the AP in advance of Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher's first state of the university speech today, but the plan would begin to shift SUNY away from its traditional method of allocating state funds based on campuses' enrollment alone.
Many in nonprofit higher education have looked on with envy or frustration as advocates for for-profit higher education have made major ad buys to oppose the Obama administration's "gainful employment" regulations. Campus Progress, a left-leaning student group, on Tuesday announced an ad buy in the Washington area in favor of the regulations. The new ad can be found here.
The Middle East Studies Association is urging the Turkish Coalition of America to withdraw a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota over materials, since removed from the university's genocide studies website, calling a website of the Turkish group an "unreliable" source for information about the Armenian genocide, which most scholars say happened, and which the Turkish group questions.
In a letter to the coalition, the Middle East studies group said: "Your organization, and those who hold perspectives different from those expressed by scholars associated with the Center, certainly have the right to participate in open scholarly exchange on the history of the Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire or any other issue, by presenting their views at academic conferences, in the pages of peer-reviewed scholarly journals or by other means, thereby opening them up to debate and challenge. We are distressed that you instead chose to take legal action against the University of Minnesota and its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, apparently for having at one point characterized views expressed on your website in a certain way. We fear that legal action of this kind may have a chilling effect on the ability of scholars and academic institutions to carry out their work freely and to have their work assessed on its merits, in conformity with standards and procedures long established in the world of scholarship. Your lawsuit may thus serve to stifle the free expression of ideas among scholars and academic institutions regarding the history of Armenians in the later Ottoman Empire, and thereby undermine the principles of academic freedom."
Bruce Fein, one of the lawyers for those suing the University of Minnesota (a group that includes a student there), rejected the criticisms from the Middle East scholars. Via e-mail, Fein said that "it is obvious that the letter writers never bothered to read the complaint.... The complaint explicitly renounces what the misinformed letter authors assert: that we are challenging the right of professors to voice their opinions about the reliability of web or other information sources. The complaint questions the authority of a state school to de facto prohibit students from visiting websites solely because of the viewpoint expressed and not for any bona fide educational purpose. If I were a teacher, I would give an F grade to the letter for failure of the writers to do their homework and egregiously misrepresenting the facts without even contacting the opposing side."
A set of transactions involving radio frequencies in California presented a new opportunity for one university and a lost opportunity for students at another, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The newspaper said that the University of Southern California had bought the Bay Area's only classical music station, which it plans to move to the FM frequency (90.3) that had been occupied by KUSF, the largely volunteer station operated by students at the University of San Francisco. USF officials shut down the station's operations Tuesday morning, which they said was necessary to undertake the transition to an online-only format. But the seemingly sudden move drew complaints from students and others at the station.
Rutgers University has returned a Renaissance-era painting stolen by the Nazis to the grandson of the real owners, the Associated Press reported. The Jewish couple who owned "Portrait of a Young Man," a 1509 work by the German painter Hans Baldung Grien, made a deal to trade a group of paintings for their freedom, but the Nazis took the art and still sent the couple to death camps. A grandson tracked the painting to the art gallery at Rutgers, which had been given the painting by a dealer in 1959. Suzanne Delehanty, director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, said that when she learned the history of the painting, "we decided right away we wanted to do the right thing."
Boston University has called off a planned study abroad program in Niger, following the kidnappings of two Frenchmen there, The Boston Globe reported. Fifteen students had been scheduled to travel to Niger for the spring semester.
Eugene Lang College of the New School has announced that it is now test-optional on admissions. Students who do not want to submit an SAT or ACT score may provide a graded paper with a teacher's comments.
Nicolaus Ramos paid his tuition bill at the University of Colorado at Boulder in an unusual way -- with more than $14,000 in one-dollar bills, The Sacramento Bee reported. The idea behind this nearly 30-pound payment was to draw attention to the rising cost of higher education.