Higher Education Quick Takes
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 Chicago Council on Global Affairs is today releasing a report calling for a "master plan" for higher education in the Midwest. The report -- by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan -- argues that the region needs to think about higher education more strategically as a region, not just as individual states or institutions. The "Bologna process" -- by which European higher education has become much more linked across national boundaries -- is cited as an example, both for its coordination and also for the broad consultation that produced the effort. The time for collaboration is evident, the report says, from the changes already taking place. "No university can control the growth of knowledge nor the educational needs of a society. Information technology is rapidly eliminating the barriers of space and time that have largely shielded campus activities from competition," the report says.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs to improve the outreach and support it provides to military veterans who receive federal education benefits, the Government Accountability Office said in a report on Wednesday. The report examined the agency's process for making veterans aware of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and other veterans' education programs and for ensuring that schools and veterans meet eligibility rules, among other things, and found room for improvement in some areas.
An appeals court has overturned an award of $2.5 million to a former associate controller at Florida International University who claimed he lost his job in a reorganization because of racial discrimination, The Miami Herald reported. The court found that the former employee failed to meet required standards of proof that racial discrimination was a factor. The university maintained that the reorganization -- which involved an entire division -- was based on problems with the old structure.
The revived Antioch College has announced its first three faculty hires. Faculty members and alumni of the institution that Antioch University shut down have been pushing for the rehiring of professors from the old Antioch College, while the administration has been insisting on new searches for all openings. Of the first three hires, two are finishing their doctorates, while one is a faculty member who taught at the previous Antioch and is now coming back.
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.”
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.