Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — A key higher education policy aide to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will move to the Education Department, filling one of the many vacancies in higher education policymaking that have added up since President Obama won re-election last November. Spiros Protopsaltis, who has worked for two and a half years as a senior education policy adviser for the committee's Democrats, will join the Education Department's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. That office has been without a leader since assistant secretary Carmel Martin left for the Center on American Progress, and has seen departures from other policymakers as well.

June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department's announcement earlier this year that it would better accommodate same-sex couples, and unmarried couples, on its Free Application for Federal Student Aid beginning in the 2014-15 academic year means that the Supreme Court decision Wednesday allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage will have little impact. 

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. That means same-sex couples may file joint tax returns, and the children of those couples should list both parents on the FAFSA, according to a fact sheet released Wednesday by gay and lesbian advocacy groups.

June 27, 2013

Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, has approved a controversial proposal by the University of California at Los Angeles business school to make its M.B.A. program "self-supporting." Under the plan, the business school would gain more autonomy and flexibility for managing the program in return for giving up the $8 million it would otherwise receive from the state for the program. UCLA officials have argued that since that money is now a small share of operating funds, it can make up the difference -- and stands to gain more from increased autonomy. Some faculty critics have called the plan "privatization" -- a word avoided by proponents of the plan. The announcement of Yudof's approval noted conditions he placed on the concept. On issues of academic quality, the M.B.A. program remains subject to the same policies governing other professional schools in the UC system. Further, financial aid for low-income students must be provided at similar levels to those of other UC M.B.A. programs.

 

June 27, 2013

Building on research earlier this year that showed colleges are failing to reach high-achieving, low-income students, two researchers on Wednesday called for a nationwide expansion of a pilot program that sends information packets to those students. In a discussion paper for the Hamilton Project, part of the Brookings Institution, the researchers, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia, renewed a call from their earlier work for sending high-achieving poor students information about their college options in a partnership with the College Board or ACT.

June 27, 2013

Arizona has sued the Maricopa Community College District, seeking to block it from granting in-state tuition rates to students who lack the legal authority to live permanently in the United States who qualify under President Obama's executive order for work permits, the Associated Press reported. The suit claims that the district is violating Arizona law barring any benefits for immigrants who are not legally entitled to stay in the United States. But Maricopa officials said that President Obama's executive order in fact does give these immigrants legal status.

 

June 27, 2013

The National Institutes of Health plans to sharply restrict its use of chimpanzees in biomedical research studies and retire most of the animals it now supports, adopting most of the recommendations emerging from a several-year study of the issue. Agency officials said they would retain (but not breed) several dozen chimpanzees for future research that meets rigorous guidelines set forth in a 2010 study by the Institute of Medicine. “Americans have benefited greatly from the chimpanzees’ service to biomedical research, but new scientific methods and technologies have rendered their use in research largely unnecessary,” Francis S. Collins, the NIH director, said in a statement. “Their likeness to humans has made them uniquely valuable for certain types of research, but also demands greater justification for their use. After extensive consideration with the expert guidance of many, I am confident that greatly reducing their use in biomedical research is scientifically sound and the right thing to do.”

June 27, 2013

George Pernsteiner, who led Oregon's university system for nearly a decade, has been named to succeed Paul Lingenfelter as president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The association represents the leaders of the public higher education systems in their states.

June 26, 2013

About 1,400 recent graduates of Radford University will be receiving new diplomas because the ones the university handed out had two spelling errors, The Virginian-Pilot reported. An "i" was missing in "Virginia" and an "e" was missing in "thereto." Officials said that the errors were introduced when a software upgrade required that the university retype the words to be used on diplomas.

 

June 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Emily Elliott of the University of Pittsburgh explores aging sewer systems and reveals the threat they pose to the environment. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 26, 2013

Colleges have special responsibilities to support young parents and pregnant students under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday. The letter is an update and expansion of previous guidance issued on the topic in 1991. The letter cites studies saying that only 2 percent of women who had a child before the age of 18 earned a degree by 30, and notes that Title IX prohibits discrimination of these students in any educational program, including extracurricular activities. OCR sent the letter -- along with a pamphlet of guidelines, strategies and best practices to support pregnant and parenting -- to all colleges.

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