Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 23, 2013

California would move aggressively into performance-based funding for higher education under a draft plan being circulated by Governor Jerry Brown, the Los Angeles Times reported. Under the draft of a revised budget blueprint for higher education, which the newspaper obtained weeks before the governor is due to release it, the state would provide annual budget increases of 4 or 5 percent over the next several years, but tie the money to meeting goals such as significant increases in the number of students transferring from community colleges to public universities and in graduation rates, the Times reported. University officials responded coolly to the reported plan, with one saying: "We'd like to go back to the drawing board."

April 23, 2013

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, has posed the question of whether student visas should be suspended in light of the Boston Marathon bombing. Although neither of the suspected bombers was in the United States on student visas (one was a permanent resident, and the other a naturalized citizen), Paul nonetheless raises the student visa system as an area of concern in a letter about national security and the immigration system, asking: “Finally, do we need to take a hard look at student visas? Should we suspend student visas, or at least those from high-risk areas, pending an investigation into the national security implications of this program?”

Paul raises the issue of potential flaws in the student visa system, as well as in the system for admitting refugees, as part of his broader point that the Senate should not proceed in enacting comprehensive immigration reform "until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system. Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism?"

April 23, 2013

State leaders are demanding explanations -- and in some cases urging retribution -- for the University of Wisconsin System's decision to quietly store hundreds of millions of dollars of budget funds in hundreds of accounts spread across its institutions, the Journal-Sentinel reported. A state audit last week found that the university system had cash reserves of $648 million, about a quarter of its annual appropriation, that the funds were distributed among many accounts across the system -- and that the funds had gone virtually unmentioned to state officials.

Wisconsin system officials acknowledged to the newspaper that they did "not draw attention" to the funds in the past, and some legislators accused university leaders of purposely misleading state officials about the system's financial standing. Some called for a two-year freeze on new state support and tuition -- and some went further, suggesting that President Kevin Reilly should consider resigning. Reilly is supposed to testify at a legislative hearing today in Madison.

April 23, 2013

The Minerva Project, the San Francisco-based "hybrid university" trying to appeal to top-tier students that plans to open in 2015, announced Monday that it has joined with a Nobel laureate to offer a $500,000 prize each year to a distinguished educator. Roger Kornberg, a Stanford University professor who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is governor of the newly created Minerva Academy, which will award the prize. The prize is "designed to recognize extraordinary advancements in teaching excellence and impact" in higher education.

April 22, 2013

A former student who created a website that harshly criticized Thomas M. Cooley Law School is protected by the First Amendment and should not have his identity revealed, a Michigan state appeals court ruled this month. Cooley, a freestanding law school in Michigan, had sued the former student in state court, saying that the site the ex-student created, Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam, defamed the institution. Cooley officials obtained a California subpoena compelling the company that hosted the website to reveal his identity, and a lower state court refused to block the subpoena. But the appeals court ruled that Michigan law protects such speech, and sent the case back to the lower court for further review.

 

April 22, 2013

Student journalists at Lewis & Clark College are criticizing administrators for forcing them to hold for four days an article about a lecture on campus by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The college said that it wanted to clear the article with the Supreme Court press office before permitting publication. “[T]he college should have refused to send in any independent student publication for prior approval,” said an editorial in The Pioneer Log, the newspaper. Supreme Court officials said that they hadn’t insisted on review of the article, and the college has apologized for insisting that the article await review.

April 22, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Stuart Thomson of the University of Arizona explains the formation of Antarctica’s most dramatic and inaccessible features. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 22, 2013

The latest deficit-reduction plan from the two men who led President Obama's deficit reduction committee in 2010 calls for changes to several programs important to higher education. The plan, released Friday by former Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, would eliminate the in-school interest subsidy on student loans, end PLUS loans to graduate students, use a market-based interest rate for all student loans, and create a "two-tier" system of income-based repayment. The plan, which is unlikely to be passed in its current form, does not call for significant cuts to the Pell Grant.

April 22, 2013

We're introducing a new site design today, and welcome your feedback. Our editorial sections will be featuring more illustrations, and we are giving more prominence to sections that group together content on specialized subjects such as technology, diversity and international (see a menu bar on top of our home page). Our jobs site aims to make it easier for you to find the best open positions, tools for your job search and related editorial content. As with any new site launch, we suspect there are a few bugs to be worked out, and we appreciate your patience. If you have questions or comments on editorial features, please send to editor@insidehighered.com and if you have questions or comments on the job services, please send to publisher@insidehighered.com.

 

April 22, 2013

A faculty committee at Florida Atlantic University has found that the institution compromised academic freedom by banning the use of an exercise in which students were told to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and to step on it, The Palm Beach Post reported. The use of such an exercise -- those recommended in a nationally recognized textbook, and though the intent is not for students to step on the paper -- set off a controversy in the state. Subsequently, the university said it would ban the exercise. Florida Atlantic administrators said that they supported academic freedom, but they refused to answer questions about their ban on the class lesson.

 

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