Higher Education Quick Takes
Three residents of Montgomery County, Maryland are suing to force the college to end a policy that allows some Montgomery College students who lack documentation to live in the United States to pay in-state tuition rates, The Gazette reported. Maryland law generally bars such policies, but the community college says its policy -- which simply allows graduates of the county's public high schools to pay the low rates -- is legal.
Gary L. Minish has resigned as provost of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale after just over a month on the job, KFVS 12 News reported. A statement from Chancellor Rita Cheng referred to policy differences that Minish has with the direction of the university, but details were not available.
Pensacola State College on Tuesday fired a tenured professor, Robert Ardis, over allegations that he used a sabbatical to obtain a master's degree from a diploma mill and then presented that degree to obtain a promotion and higher salary, The Pensacola News Journal reported. Ardis did not attend the meeting at which he was fired. A union representative who was at the meeting on his behalf said that he was still reviewing documents that might be the basis of a possible appeal and that Ardis "looks forward to his day in court."
The team of big movers advocating the use of technology to advance the national college completion agenda just got some more muscle. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the Next Generation Learning Challenges, or NGLC — a series of grants for technology-based, completion-oriented projects. Hewlett will be contributing $1.4 million to the program, adding to the $20 million Gates has already committed. NGLC, which is co-sponsored by Educause, is currently reviewing hundreds of proposals submitted in the first round of grants, which focus on higher education. Despite its comparatively small funding stake, Hewlett is expected to be deeply involved in various strategic aspects of NGLC, which it has advised for several months.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, this week proposed budget cuts for higher education that stand out even in a year of deep budget cuts. For community colleges, she wants to cut state funding in half, Capitol Media Services reported. For four-year universities, she wants to cut state support by 20 percent. The governor's budget director told the news service that "inefficiencies" in higher education can be eliminated so that the four-year institutions don't have to raise tuition. As for community colleges, the governor is hoping that they can bring in more funds from local support and tuition.
Five students who have sued California State University over 2009 tuition increases have won class action status, allowing more to join the litigation, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. While the suit is considered a long shot, Cal State could be forced to repay $40 million if it loses -- no easy task amid deep state budget cuts that the university system is facing.
Some Texas educators and legislators are pushing back against a draft of the state budget, released earlier this week, that would cut $39 million by closing four community colleges. Richard Rhodes, chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and president of El Paso Community College, harshly criticized the plan. In a statement, he wrote: “This budget makes it clear that there is no longer a state policy when it comes to community colleges. If a college grows and educates more students the state does not live up to its commitment by funding growth. However, if a college is perceived by state bureaucrats as somehow growing too slowly, the state will cut all of an institution’s funding.” Democrats and even some Republicans in the state legislature have also expressed their displeasure with the proposed cuts. According to The Dallas Morning News, Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a Republican from Angleton, asked the House floor: “Why would we ever have a staff recommendation as a starting point that creates a headline that says Brazosport College would be closed?”
One of the largest publicly traded higher-education companies said Wednesday that it would cut 600 jobs over the next several months, citing changes in its own business strategy and the "slowing student enrollments across the private-sector postsecondary education industry." The announcement by Career Education Corp., which has about 13,000 employees at about 90 campuses, was the latest signal that for-profit colleges are seeing significant changes in the face of more federal and state scrutiny about their financial aid and other practices.