Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed the University of Florida and Florida State University -- research universities where tuition rates lag national averages -- to increase tuition substantially. In his veto message, Governor Scott cited concerns about the impact of tuition increase on students and their families, and a need for more information on whether tuition increases would provide an appropriate "return" for Florida taxpayers. Florida State and University of Florida had lobbied hard for passage of the bill, arguing that they needed more money to achieve the state's aspirations for them as research universities. The veto comes amid deep budget cuts to the state's universities. Following the veto, Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida, issued a statement saying that he was "so very disappointed" in the governor's action. "This legislation presented the University of Florida with a pathway toward excellence and would have enabled the great state of Florida to have two world-class universities."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Thirteen students at six California State University campuses are planning a hunger strike, vowing to fast until the university system freezes tuition, cuts spending on administrators and agrees to various other measures, The Los Angeles Times reported. "We've tried pretty much everything, and they just ignore us," said Donnie Bessom, a student at Cal State Long Beach. "We've talked to state legislators, written petitions, mobilized people on campus. The next step for us is in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience. They keep raising salaries and have those other luxuries, and we thought the symbolic nature of a hunger strike was appropriate to the crisis."
The union for tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Macomb Community College, which has been independent of national unions since its founding in 1967, has voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. Dawn Roberts, president of the Macomb Community College Faculty Organization, issued a statement in which she said: "MCCFO is a strong and effective union. But with the mounting attacks on unions and public K-16 education, it is imperative that we affiliate with the larger labor movement in order to remain viable and effective. AFT brings broad experience, effective representation, and technical expertise that will be of great benefit to our members."
John V. Lombardi has a reputation as a higher education administrator for raising tough issues, attracting strong faculty and student support, and then clashing with his superiors. That was the pattern at the University of Florida and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. That pattern has now repeated itself at Louisiana State University, where he was fired as system president on Friday. Board members said that Lombardi had failed to build key relationships, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. He had pushed to move beyond budget-cutting (which he said was equivalent to rearranging deck chairs) and to instead look at new sources of revenue (such as tuition increases and reallocating funds from a popular statewide merit scholarship program). Those views and others placed him in disagreement with Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. (Editor's Note: Lombardi is also a blogger for Inside Higher Ed.)
Portland State University warned students and employees on Thursday that it had suspended a graduate student and barred him from the campus after he had allegedly made "threats of violence against the PSU community," The Oregonian reported.
The Education Department just finished two rounds of negotiated rule making on financial aid issues -- one on student loan regulations and one on the rules that govern financial aid for teacher preparation programs -- but is already planning a third. The department will focus on creating new regulations to prevent fraud in financial aid programs, as well as possibly changing financial aid delivery to electronic funds transfers. The department may also "update and streamline" the rules for campus-based financial aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and Federal Work-Study, wrote David Bergeron, deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning, and innovation in the department's Office of Postsecondary Education.
Public hearings on the rule making process are scheduled for May 23 in Phoenix and May 31 in Washington, D.C.
Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid would have little effect on eligibility for need-based state grants, according to a College Board study that could allay the concerns about relying only on Internal Revenue Service data -- not a more detailed listing of a student or parent's income and assets -- when awarding financial aid. The authors of the report, "Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean For States," examined the possible consequences of relying only on data transferred from the IRS, which would make filling out the complex form much less difficult for students. (Some fear that the application process itself discourages students who would qualify for need-based financial aid.)
In a sample of five states that award need-based grants, the simpler form would have little effect: the number of eligible students decreased by less than 1 percent in Kentucky and Ohio and would increase slightly in Minnesota, Texas and Vermont, the study's authors found.
The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that public colleges and universities do not have the right to bar guns in student or employee vehicles on campuses, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Kentucky does permit its colleges and universities to bar guns on the persons of people on campuses. But the Supreme Court said that going beyond that would be "contrary to a fundamental policy, the right to bear arms."