Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Matthew Randall of York College of Pennsylvania explains the new set of challenges information technology is posing to college graduates as they enter the workplace. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in March sought applications for its "comprehensive" grant program, with the goal of making more than $20 million in awards. But FIPSE has now announced that there will be no grants awarded. "Congressional action on the FY 2011 budget substantially reduced funds available for grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, including new grants under the comprehensive program," said a notice on the agency's website.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, on Thursday defended the importance of research at the state system’s universities -- and received a unanimous vote of support from the system’s regents, according to the Texas Tribune.

“Teaching and scholarly research go hand-in-hand in a university of the first class,” Cigarroa said, in what the Tribune described as highly anticipated remarks at the regents’ meeting. Cigarroa’s speech, which is in keeping with his previous statements on the subject, comes on the heels of a forceful defense of the research mission of the flagship, UT-Austin, made by its president, William Powers Jr., on Monday.

Questions about the appropriate balance of research and education at Texas universities -- and the regents’ position on the matter (and whether they fully supported Cigarroa) -- have recently gained urgency due to a set of seven “breakthrough solutions” that have been advanced by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a think tank whose policies are aligned with those of Governor Rick Perry. Among these ideas is a call to separate universities’ research and teaching budgets in order to get more faculty members in the classroom. Many faculty members have seen the push for separation as an attempt to micromanage and reduce support for scholarship.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Days after a speech in which President Obama vowed to reform U.S. immigration policy in part by making it easier for foreign graduates of American universities to stay in this country, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office announced an expanded list of science and mathematics fields whose graduates can stay in the United States for an additional year for more training. "By expanding the list of STEM degrees to include such fields as Neuroscience, Medical Informatics, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, Mathematics and Computer Science, the Obama administration is helping to address shortages in certain high tech sectors of talented scientists and technology experts-permitting highly skilled foreign graduates who wish to work in their field of study upon graduation and extend their post-graduate training in the United States," the office said in its news release.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

An outbreak of a norovirus (or similar virus) has led Spring Arbor University to postpone its commencement, scheduled for May 14, until May 21. More than 170 students are ill.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

As Speaker of the House John Boehner prepares to address graduates of the Catholic University of America Saturday, a group of professors at Roman Catholic colleges and universities has publicly rebuked the Ohio Republican for, they say, abandoning church teachings on social justice with a legislative agenda that neglects "the desperate needs of the poor." Saying they hope Boehner's visit to Catholic will "reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of social justice," the scholars specifically cite his leadership on a 2012 House budget that, they say, would remove "long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society," and that they call "particularly cruel to pregnant women and children." A spokesman for Boehner said the Congressman will be honored to deliver the speech and receive an honorary degree "from the only Catholic college in our country that is chartered by Catholic bishops.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Presidential Oversight Committee of the Bowl Championship Series announced Wednesday that the Fiesta Bowl will remain part of the BCS -- the controversial group of contests that determines the national champion in big-time college football -- but that it must pay a $1 million fine for illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending. Duane Woods, the Fiesta Bowl's chairman, told the Associated Press: “The Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors understands and accepts the sanctions imposed by the BCS. We think that these tough but fair measures are consistent with our commitment to reform the Fiesta Bowl's governance and rebuild trust.” Bob Williams, spokesman for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, wrote in a statement: “The BCS task force actions regarding the Fiesta Bowl are serious and constructive steps in the right direction. The NCAA postseason bowl licensing subcommittee will review the task force report as it considers whether to reaffirm the Fiesta Bowl ... for the coming season. The subcommittee is planning to meet next week and expects to make a decision in the near future.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Leaders in the House of Representatives on Wednesday set budget targets that would require the appropriations subcommittee that allocates funds for education, health and labor programs to cut more than $18 billion from the 2011 levels for those programs. The targets -- known in Washington budget parlance as 302(b) allocations -- tell the various spending subcommittees how much money they have to work with to divvy up among the various programs under their jurisdiction. The allocation to the panel that provides funds to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments would receive $139.2 billion, $18.2 billion less than the programs are receiving in 2011 and $41.6 billion less than President Obama proposed in February. An allocation of this sort would force lawmakers to choose among many programs that matter to colleges and universities -- student aid and institutional support from the Education Department, biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, job training programs at the Labor Department -- all of which fall under the same subcommittee.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide the shooting deaths of two men and one woman in a parking garage at San Jose State University, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The dead are connected to the university, but their names have not been released.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Both The Texas Tribune and The Dallas Morning News (behind a paywall) are reporting this morning that the retirement of Mike McKinney as chancellor of the Texas A&M University System -- announced this week -- may not have been voluntary. Both articles cite the intensifying debates in Texas over carrying out the ideas of Governor Rick Perry. Texas A&M has been criticized by many for being too quick to go along with some of those ideas about measuring the output of faculty members, but the articles suggest Perry allies don't think the university has moved enough in that direction.

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