Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered City Colleges of Chicago to end a policy of payouts for unused sick days for those who retire from the system while figuring out if it can stop such payments that were pledged in the past, The Chicago News Cooperative reported. The college's board -- at the request of a new chancellor, Cheryl Hyman -- had already ended the policy for new employees. But the colleges' employees have generated $7 million for unused sick days in the last decade. Among the big beneficiaries is the former chancellor, Wayne Watson, who has moved on to become president of Chicago State University. He has already been paid $300,000 for unused sick days, and is due another $200,000.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Hundreds of students have been admitted to South Korean universities through program designed to help the disadvantaged, even though these students aren't disadvantaged, The Chosun Ilbo reported. Since the admissions program covers students who grow up in some rural areas, families are getting addresses in those areas or moving there briefly, so that their children can be admitted without ever having lived there.
Newt Gingrich, trying to upset Mitt Romney in Florida's Republican presidential primary, devoted time during a recent speech to students and their difficulty paying for college. The Washington Post reported that he blamed coddled students living in luxury dormitories. "Students take fewer classes per semester. They take more years to get through. Why? Because they have free money," Gingrich said. "I would tell students: 'Get through as quick as you can. Borrow as little as you can. Have a part-time job.' But that’s very different from the culture that has grown up in the last 20 years.” Gingrich also praised the College of the Ozarks, a work college that he has hailed as a model for higher education.
But for all of Gingrich's demand that college students work their way through college, the Post dug out an article in Vanity Fair in 1995 that said Gingrich didn't work to pay for his own college education, relying on his first wife to work, and family members to provide cash. The article quoted Gingrich's stepmother remembering Gingrich saying: "I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies."
Gingrich did not respond to the Post's request for comment.
Regular-season attendance for football this academic year fell in 8 of the 11 major-college conferences, USA Today reported. Further, bowl games hit a 33-year low.
The University of Western Ontario is changing its name and rebranding itself as Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. The university will remain in Ontario, but officials believe that they will be better able to build an international reputation without the province in the name. Some alumni are poking fun at the change.
Update: The Obama administration has released a fact sheet with full details of the plan President Obama will discuss in a speech today on college prices and costs.
President Obama is planning to talk about the specifics of his college affordability plan today at the University of Michigan, and leaked details appear in The New York Times. According to the Times, the proposal will focus on campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and work-study, with funds linked to colleges' ability to control college prices and to show that they are providing value to students. The plan will also seek to require colleges to provide more information about financial aid packages (to help families compare offers) and about the earnings and job placements of graduates. The administration will also propose a $1 billion competition (modeled on the Race to the Top program for the states on elementary and secondary education) that would reward states that meet certain goals.
Obama administration officials told the Times that major parts of the program -- including a substantial increase in Perkins Loan funding -- would not require more federal funds, because the funds are repaid and create a revolving fund for future loans. However, Congress would have to approve the plan -- and Congressional approval of any Obama administration proposal is uncertain in an election year when Republicans control the House and have the ability to block most legislation in the Senate.
A group of presidents from 12 research universities are calling for restored federal investment in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, which had its budget slashed by 54 percent last year. The department's research arm works with universities to create technologies to guard against terrorist attacks and disasters, according to a letter from the group to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security. Research funded by the department "will lead to critical breakthroughs in national security," they said. The signers including the presidents of Carnegie Mellon, Drexel, George Washington, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities; the State University of New York at Buffalo; the Universities of Delaware, Maryland at College Park, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The National Council on Teacher Quality is suing the University of Wisconsin for access to the syllabuses used in teacher education programs throughout the system, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The council is in the process of rating teacher education programs in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report. While the council has some support in the teacher ed world, many deans are dubious of the council's methodology, and accuse it of unfairly bashing programs. The council wants to review syllabuses to see what material is covered in courses, and has had success in obtaining such information from other public universities. But University of Wisconsin officials maintain that a syllabus is subject by copyright, and thus is not covered by the state's public records law.
U.S. authorities have arrested Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an assistant professor at Sharif University of Technology, in Iran, and charged him with violating U.S. export laws by purchasing high-tech lab equipment, the Associated Press reported. He is being held in California.