Wednesday marked the official launch of a new federal panel designed to recommend how to ensure that American research universities remain vital and effective. The Committee on Research Universities, sponsored by the National Academies and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, includes corporate CEOs, university leaders, and others, and is charged with answering this question: "What are the top ten actions that Congress, the federal government, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?” A report is due next May.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement denouncing as "harmful to one's moral and spiritual life" a 2008 book by two theologians at Creighton University, a Roman Catholic institution. The book, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology, by Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler, was published by Georgetown University Press, and the press website features much praise for the work. In the book, the authors offer views that differ from traditional church teachings on a variety of issues related to sex. The authors were not available for comment. Creighton issued a statement to The Omaha World-Herald saying that the institution is committed both to Catholic teachings and to academic freedom.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Colorado at Boulder will pay the Big 12 Conference $9.255 million and $7 million, respectively, to end their affiliations with the league and shift next year to the Big 10 and Pacific-10 Conferences, respectively, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald and one on ESPN. The two institutions announced their plans to bolt the Big 12 for bigger, richer leagues in June.
Vice President Biden heralded the work of research universities at a round table Tuesday on the impact that federal stimulus funds have had in promoting job growth and economic competitiveness. At the start of the discussion, most of which was closed to reporters, Biden described research spending as “among the most critical parts” of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, and said criticism of federal spending on research was shortsighted -- and out of step with the view in competitive countries such as China and India. “Our economic future will grow from ideas that are incubating at universities. That’s the breeding ground and it always has been," he said, surrounded by presidents from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Washington State Universities and the Universities of California, Florida and Pennsylvania. “The rest of the world gets this, and we can’t afford to lag behind,” he said. “We cannot afford to not rededicate ourselves to the work you guys around the table do.”
As the U.S. Senate appeared poised to move ahead on a defense spending bill, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to ask that they push for the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children and went on to postsecondary education or military service. In his letter, Duncan said the act would "stop the punishment of innocent young people for the actions of their parents, and give them the chance to earn their legal status." The act, he added, would "play an important part in our efforts to meet the Administration's goals of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020." Dozens of college presidents have spoken out in favor of the DREAM Act in recent months.
President Obama last week voiced his support for Congress to pass the DREAM Act as a standalone measure, after Reid and other Democrats made clear that they wanted action on it before November's Congressional elections. But motion stalled Tuesday afternoon as Republicans and some Democrats voted to continue debate on the bill, which Reid has said he plans to also amend with language that would repeal the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy pertaining to the military's treatment of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. The DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has scheduled the third in its series of oversight hearings on for-profit colleges for Thursday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m. The hearing is expected to focus on student outcomes and debt, as well as the sector's revenue sources, based in large part on the data Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the committee's chairman, requested in August from the 15 publicly traded for-profits and 15 privately held institutions.
Students were charged more than $795 million to support athletics programs at 222 public universities that play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I in 2008-9, up an inflation-adjusted 18 percent since 2005, an analysis by USA Today finds. The newspaper's review, part of a continuing series of reports on college sports finances, also reveals that some institutions do not disclose their per-student athletics fee charges -- which are increasingly subsidizing money-losing athletics programs -- on their billing statements, websites or in other official school publications. Student athletics fees are typically charged to offset the costs of subsidized or free tickets to events for students, but students (or their parents) pay them even if the students don't (or can't) go to the games.
A panel convened by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents to examine policies on students who are in the United States illegally is recommending that academically competitive campuses turn away such students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. According to the newspaper, the committee's proposal would bar undocumented students from attending the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and any other public college that doesn’t have the space to admit all academically qualified applicants, under a recommendation a state committee approved Tuesday. The committee assembled by the State Board of Regents also recommended that all Georgia colleges verify every admitted student seeking in-state tuition to determine whether the student is in the country legally. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for in-state tuition.
The U.S. Education Department has awarded grants to 17 colleges in 12 states to help them create or expand campuswide emergency management plans or programs. The recipients are: Auburn University ($708,471), Case Western Reserve University ($568,090), Clark College in Washington ($744,402), College of Southern Nevada ($756,474), Colleges of the Fenway ($512,081), Cornell University ($587,684), Indiana University ($642,847), Joliet Junior College ($521,787), Milwaukee Area Technical College ($791,439), Missouri Southern State University ($401,981), Pikes Peak Community College ($476,355), Purdue University-Calumet ($486,281), Sullivan County Community College ($284,435), Tufts University ($503,138), University of St. Thomas ($245,694), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ($499,252), and Western Washington University ($512,742).
Ohio University has apologized to Ohio State University for an attack by the former's mascot on the latter's prior to a football face-off Saturday. The student who was the Ohio U. mascot has also been banned from any role with athletics. Video and commentary from Bucknuts show the Ohio mascot charging across the field in a first attack and then following up in the end zone.