Higher education groups stepped up their campaign Wednesday against the latest round of regulatory steps made by the U.S. Education Department. In a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, 60 college associations urged the department to withdraw its October 2010 rule that would require states to specifically authorize institutions to offer postsecondary education, to have a process whereby an institution can be subject to adverse action by the state, and to have a process to review and act on complaints. According to the groups’ letter, rather than address their earlier concerns that the rule encouraged state "overreach" in regulating independent colleges, the Education Department added in the final rule an "entirely new and problematic provision regulating distance education programs." The state authorization rule is the second that the groups have urged the department to withdraw; the first was on a new federal definition of the credit hour.
Higher Education Quick Takes
President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation that funds the federal government through the middle of March, averting a threatened government shutdown but cutting several programs, including the $64 million Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program, which provides federal matching funds to states that provide need-based financial aid to students. The measure also cuts $129 million in earmarked funds distributed in 2010 through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. But it does no damage to the Pell Grant Program.
Castleton State College said Tuesday that it had replaced its head football coach after an investigation into charges that he broke National Collegiate Athletic Association rules by helping a player get $22,000 in student loans. The Vermont public college said that the coach, Rich Alercio, had been accused by the NCAA of arranging for a part-time employee of the college to co-sign or endorse three loans for an unidentified player, which would violate the association's rules against improper benefits for athletes.
The London School of Economics and Political Science is facing increased criticism over its ties to Mu’ammer Gaddafi, whose son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi earned a Ph.D. at the university and made large donations to it. Times Higher Education reported that students have expressed outrage that these donations led to agreements by the London School of Economics to operate programs in Libya -- since called off. Students took over a building to demand, among other things, that some of the Gaddafi money be used for scholarships. A statement from the university says that it “shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the school’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime."
James Franco has posted a photograph expressing his four-letter-word feelings about The Yale Daily News, the student newspaper at the institution where he is earning his Ph.D. While Franco did not detail his complaints about the publication, it has poked fun at his Oscar hosting and his use of Twitter, among other things. Cokey Cohen, author of some of the articles that may have insulted Franco, responded to the photo in a piece in which Cohen defended his early critiques of the "lame-ness of James Franco's Twitter," but said the photo response was more creative.
The relative roles of and relationships between research universities and state college systems are in the state policy spotlight as governors trot out their 2012 budgets. On Tuesday, as expected, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin called for splitting off the flagship University of Wisconsin at Madison from the statewide public college system. Walker said giving Madison "public authority" status -- which he said could also soon be granted to the university's other major research campus, in Milwaukee -- was necessary to give Madison "the tools it needs to remain a world leader in research and instruction -- while continuing to be a driver of economic development for our state." Walker said he was "open to working with lawmakers from both political parties on expanding this concept to the other campuses throughout the University of Wisconsin system," many of whose leaders have opposed the prospect of separating the system's most visible and prestigious campuses from the rest.
Also Tuesday, legislators in Connecticut challenged a proposal by that state's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, that would create a statewide system, but leave the flagship University of Connecticut on its own, The Connecticut Mirror reported. "I feel the UConn system needs to be in the same umbrella," the newspaper quoted State Representative Toni E. Walker as saying. "I want to see another model, and that model includes the University of Connecticut.... If we're going to do this let's not isolate the other universities." Connecticut's commissioner of higher education, Michael Meotti, said at the legislative hearing that treating the institutions differently made sense, given their different student bodies and missions. "That sets them worlds apart. If you put them together then you run too great a risk that one institution's issues will dominate over another."
An archaeology professor at Loyola University Chicago was sentenced by a federal judge to one year of probation Tuesday after admitting that he stole artifacts from an excavated site in New Mexico, The Chicago Tribune reported. The professor, Daniel Amick, pledged to return the artifacts. Amick and Loyola declined comment. Amick's lawyer said that he took the items for research purposes and would have been eligible for a research permit to work on the site, but had not obtained one.
President Obama on Tuesday named the 10 winners of the National Humanities Medal for 2010. They are:
- Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University.
- Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor at Harvard University.
- Jacques Barzun, former dean and provost at Columbia University.
- Wendell E. Berry, the poet and novelist.
- Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University.
- Stanley N. Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
- Joyce Carol Oates, the author.
- Arnold Rampersad, biographer and professor and former associate dean at Stanford University.
- Philip Roth, the novelist.
- Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University.