A group of faculty members and other educators across a variety of institutions are calling on financial services organization TIAA-CREF, which oversees pension plans for 3.7 million individuals, including many higher education faculty members, to divest from companies that manufacture the types of rifles used in the shooting last week in Newton, Conn., and the shooting in Aurora, Colo., in July. TIAA-CREF invests in the two companies, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., as part of indexed investment strategies designed to replicate performance of market indexes. The push comes on the heels of the announcement by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management that it would sell its stake in another weapons manufacturer. A spokesman for TIAA-CREF declined to comment on the group's request.
Higher Education Quick Takes
City College of San Francisco is 3,000 students short of an enrollment threshold for state funding, which will lead to an expected budget hit of $6.5 million, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The embattled college, which is facing an accreditation crisis, will lay off 34 clerical workers, 20-30 part-time instructors and 18 part-time counselors to cope with the shortfall, and will also slash salaries for non-union employees. A CCSF trustee attributed the enrollment dip to bad planning by the college and an improving local economy.
Scientists in Spain have been holding protests all week over cuts to research budgets, Nature reported. Government spending on science has been cut by 39 percent since 2009. In Madrid, scientists released balloons to symbolize the departure of talent from the country.
Stanford University Press has started inviting authors to donate some or all of their royalties to a new fund with the goal of publishing more books by younger scholars. Alan Harvey, director of the press, said a few thousand dollars has been raised so far, and that more is likely -- especially when authors of some of the most popular books join the program. The funds will be set aside so that when the press is considering its ability to publish promising work by a young scholar, there is extra money available.
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, will remain chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the next Congress, Harkin announced Wednesday. "I intend to move forward with bills to ensure that all Americans are able to achieve the promise of a quality education – beginning in early childhood, continuing through elementary and high school, and culminating with higher education," Harkin said in a statement.
The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has released new data on the wage premiums received by those who are college graduates. The data show a consistent economic advantage for those with a higher education. However, there is variation on the extent of the wage premium when the data are analyzed by field of study, and by state.
The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, a national accrediting agency, has dropped an inquiry into 10 campuses owned by Career Education Corp., the for-profit higher education provider announced Tuesday. The accreditor had asked the company to "show cause" why the campuses should not have their accreditation withdrawn in the wake of Career Education's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. The campuses are now free to pursue new academic program approvals.
Representative Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced a bill in Congress on Monday that would restructure federal student loans, making all repayment income-based and withholding payments directly from borrower's paychecks through the Internal Revenue Service. The loans would be unsubsidized. Petri, who was an early supporter of direct lending, has proposed such a program before with little result; his latest bill, H.R. 6674, has no cosponsors.
Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he supported the bill, arguing it could "nearly eliminate student loan default." A similar system is used in Australia and has occasionally been mentioned as a model for the United States as concern about student debt has grown.
The average salary of assistant football coaches at colleges with big-time athletic programs is now $200,000, according to an analysis by USA Today. (By comparison, the average salary of a full professor at a public doctoral institution is $121,000.) Two of the assistant coaches are earning more than $1 million, and several universities are spending in the seven figures for the assistant coaches as group. Clemson University's assistant coaches earn more than $4.2 million, while Louisiana State University's assistant football coaches earn more than $4 million.