Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 12, 2012

A distance learning group is raising an alarm about a change to Pell Grants in a Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that, if signed into law, could cut the need-based grants for students taking online classes. A provision in the bill, which would increase the overall Pell Grant next year, would stop allowing students taking online classes to claim room and board expenses, as well as "miscellaneous personal expenses," as part of their cost of living when applying for Pell Grants.

Currently, Pell Grants take all forms of expenses into account for all students, whether they're commuters, residential students or enrolled in online or distance learning programs. Students would still be able to use those expenses when applying for student loans or other forms of financial aid. "It is hard to understand why the cost for a student’s living expenses are not allowable if the student takes online courses, but would be allowable if that same student were to commute to campus to take the same courses in a classroom," wrote Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

July 12, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Patricia Anderson of Dartmouth College reveals how efforts to improve academic performance have contributed to the obesity epidemic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 12, 2012

For many years, critics have derided "legislative scholarships" in Illinois that allow legislators to give scholarships to public universities to students in their districts, with very few limitations. On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed legislation to kill off the program, The Chicago Tribune reported. Several Tribune investigations focused on the fairness of the program. In 2009, the newspaper found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of campaign donors.

 

July 12, 2012

The newest sculpture at the University of California at San Diego looks like a cottage -- complete with a front lawn -- from some angles. From other angles, it looks like a tornado landed a cottage on top of an engineering building. The unusual work of art, "Fallen Star," is now open.

 

July 12, 2012

University presidents from institutions that are members of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities wrote a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders on Wednesday, urging them to take action to prevent the mandatory spending cuts that will kick in early next year if Congress does not act. Any agreement should continue support for scientific research and financial aid to students, while enacting changes to entitlement programs and the tax code, the college presidents wrote. "As national leaders in higher education, we urge you to show America and the world that our country's political system is capable of solving serious problems," the presidents wrote.

The letter was the latest in a series that the groups have sent in the past year urging a similar course of action.

July 12, 2012

James H. Ammons announced Wednesday that he will resign as president of Florida A&M University in October. His letter did not detail intense criticism he has faced since last year's hazing death of a student. Since then, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the university did not act aggressively to prevent hazing in the marching band that has been linked to the hazing death and widespread hazing. The Florida A&M board has voted no confidence in Ammons, and state officials have also raised questions about financial and management problems unrelated to the hazing death.

July 11, 2012

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents has reprimanded President Susan Martin for a drunken argument she had with an alumnus at an event in Washington, AnnArbor.com reported. "We have become aware of a recent incident in Washington, D.C. in which you conducted yourself in a way that was inappropriate for your position and reflected poorly on the university," a letter from the board says. "The incident involved the consumption of alcohol." The letter also said that board members were concerned about Martin's "misuse of alcohol" and "concerned about you as a person." The board letter noted that Martin's alcohol consumption could damage the reputation of the university, and create liability issues. Martin sent a campuswide e-mail in which she apologized for the incident. She also disclosed a DWI she received in 2005 (of which she said board members had been aware).

July 11, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Ilaria Pascucci of the University of Arizona explains the rules that govern the messy process of solar system formation. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 11, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board has impounded ballots from an election at Duquesne University to decide whether adjuncts there can form a union. The ballots will be sealed until the NLRB rules on an appeal by the university. Duquesne, a Roman Catholic university, previously agreed to the election, but then decided to challenge it on the grounds that its religious affiliation exempts it from an union election. The Pittsburgh office of the NLRB denied that motion to withdraw from the election but the university appealed the decision to the national office. The election ballots were to be counted Tuesday, after a mail-in election.

July 11, 2012

Edward Blews Jr., president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan, has been appointed the next president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He begins the new position Jan. 1, 2013. Blews hasn't previously represented Christian colleges and universities as such -- the association is made up of 116 regionally accredited Christian colleges and universities that hire only Christians as full-time faculty and staff. But the Michigan association has religious colleges as members and Blews received his undergraduate degree from Seattle Pacific University, a member of the council, and previously served on the council's governing board. Three members of the council are also members of the Michigan group.

Paul Corts, the current president, is retiring at the end of this year.

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