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President Obama on Wednesday nominated New Jersey's top higher education official (who is also a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy) to head the Labor Department agency that oversees federal job training programs. Jane Oates, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and a senior adviser to Gov. Jon S. Corzine, is the president's choice to be assistant labor secretary leading the Employment and Training Administration, which administers the Workforce Investment Act and other federal job training programs. If confirmed by the Senate, Oates would oversee the agency's work, among other things, on spending additional billions in federal stimulus money for job training, much of which could flow to community colleges, and working with Congress to renew the Workforce Investment Act. In other recent Obama administration personnel moves, the president has nominated John Q. Easton, executive director of the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, to direct the U.S. Education Department's Institute of Education Sciences, which oversees the federal government's work on education research. At the center, Easton worked closely with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on research aimed at improving the Chicago Public Schools. And the Portland Press Herald reported that Duncan has appointed Glenn Cummings, dean of institutional advancement at Southern Maine Community College and a former speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, for a key role in the Education Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
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