Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement late Tuesday that budget talks with Republican leaders had reached a dead end -- seemingly dooming an effort to put extensions of tax increases before voters in June -- puts California's public colleges in a (more) dire situation, the institutions' leaders said. The University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges systems have warned that a budget solution that did not include voter-passed extensions of existing taxes would double the size of the already hefty cuts they are facing ($500 million for each of the two university systems and $400 million for the two-year institutions). With Brown ending talks with Republicans, he said, because they insisted on what he called an "ever-changing list of collateral demands" -- though political observers also said poll numbers were not looking favorable, either -- campus leaders spoke Wednesday as if the June ballot measure were dead. “Without a June special election on Gov. (Jerry) Brown’s tax extension proposal, the chance of an all-cuts budget is highly likely,” Jack Scott, chancellor of the community college system, said in a news release. “An $800 million reduction would be unprecedented and an absolute tragedy for our students, faculty and staff as well as a deep blow for our economy.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
An Associated Press survey of colleges' policies designed to prevent drug use by athletes has found them to be widely inconsistent. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has one set of rules, athletic conferences vary widely on their rules, and colleges are all over the place, the survey found.
As is the case just about every year, the most competitive private universities are announcing record numbers of applications and record low admission rates. This year's announcements include a 6.2 percent admit rate at Harvard University and a 7 percent rate at Stanford University. Amid all that rejection, Bloomberg noted that some alumni admissions interviewers at elite colleges and universities are quitting the once-coveted volunteer positions since so few of the people they interview actually get in.
The Stylus, the student newspaper at the State University of New York at Brockport, is defending its editorial independence in a fight with the student government, which provides much of the publication's budget, The Democrat and Chronicle reported. The newspaper has been critical of the student government, prompting the latter to demand that the editor resign, refuse a Freedom of Information Act request and freeze "non-essential" spending by the paper.
The vice chairman of the Board of Trustees at Florida's Edison State College resigned Wednesday as administrators and faculty members continued to be at odds over governance at the institution. David Klein, an ophthalmologist who was poised to become chairman of the board, had been the lone trustee to publicly question recent personnel decisions by President Kenneth P. Walker, going so far last week as to ask for a state investigation into how Edison State is being managed. Faculty leaders thought they had won concessions from Walker on Monday, when -- facing a no confidence vote -- the president said that a controversial senior administrator would resign or be reassigned. Faculty leaders called off their no confidence vote as a result, but some expressed skepticism that Walker would keep his promises.
The board of Carleton University, in Canada, was forced to call off a meeting this week when 200 student protesters blocked access to the room, The Ottawa Citizen reported. The students were calling on the university to sell holdings in its pension fund in companies that do business in Israel.
The budget being adopted in New York State is an extremely tight one for higher education (and just about everything else), but rabbinic colleges have scored a major victory. The New York Times reported that the budget deal makes some theological students eligible for the state's student aid program -- at a cost of about $18 million a year (with students eligible for grants of up to $5,000 a year for four years). While the provision's language does not specify rabbinic colleges as the prime beneficiary, students said that the definition appears to fit perfectly those rabbinic institutions that are undergraduate in nature. Some critics say that the move violates the spirit of the separation of church and state, but supporters of the provision say that it is long overdue.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday overturned a lower court's ruling that could have forced the University of Chicago to turn over invaluable Persian antiquities to a group of people suing Iran. Chicago has the antiquities on a long-term loan and has pledged to return them to Iran, but was temporarily blocked from doing so by a suit by American victims of a terrorist attack in Israel, who sued to recover Iranian assets in the United States after winning a finding that Iran was responsible for the attack. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs' approach (and the lower court's ruling) failed to recognize the protections the United States grants to the property of foreign countries. The University of Chicago and museum groups have worried that the lower court's ruling, if upheld, would discourage countries from allowing any objects of value to travel to the United States for any reason -- potentially limiting intellectually valuable scholarship or art exhibits.