Greetings from One Dupont Circle!
This spring has been a very busy and as you might suspect in the nation’s capital the activity on the “Hill” has been swift:
- No Higher Education Reauthorization Bill. As of this writing, Congress has returned from break and the discussion continues. It is highly unlikely that any action will be taken on the bill this session.
- Budget cuts proposed for next year in the Department of Education (in committee). Secretary Spellings addressed a group of us earlier this spring about the pending budget cuts for education and higher education in specific. The Trio programs are once again on the “table” for cuts in 2007 and the reallocation of those dollars would be redirected to the “No Child Left Behind” agenda.
- Gasoline prices through the roof and Presidential intervention in the works. This needs no explanation. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the District is around $3.15. Campuses will be looking carefully at athletic team and professional travel and motor pool necessities.
- Senate debates immigration legislation. This issue continues to heat up as a national agenda and I would encourage each of you to ensure that you understand the facts of the multiple bills being presented on this topic. Please research the impacts on your local community and the nation. This discussion is just beginning.
- Recording and motion picture industries launch new anti-piracy effort targeting colleges and universities. Forty universities in 25 states have been targeted by a new anti-piracy campaign launched by the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA). Campuses are alerted to curtail piracy activity or face serious consequences.
- New Orleans colleges ask for additional federal help in recovery efforts. The Presidents of Tulane and Dillard Universities called on Congress to “establish a loan program to help Gulf coast hurricane –damaged institutions with ongoing expenses while they wait for disaster-relief checks and insurance money.” (ACE, 2006)
- The American Council on Education’s “Solutions for Our Future” campaign. ACE and 400 colleges and universities launched a national public outreach campaign designed to raise awareness about higher education’s critical role in the future of our country. “Solutions for Our Future is a multi-year effort aimed at establishing a dialogue with local communities and policy makers about the broad societal benefits of higher education. The campaign will utilize national television, radio and newspaper advertisements, an interactive web site and grassroots participation of member campuses and local stakeholders to convey how America’s colleges and universities teach the people who solve our problems and change our world”. (ACE, 2006)
In addition to the federal governments’ activities, the higher education community in Washington, DC, hosted a delegation of academic leaders from Poland for a three-day session on higher education with a focus on governance, institutional management, accreditation, and instruction. ACPA was represented at this event.
At the state level, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) settled out of court on the Shin case (an MIT student whose death in 2000 was ruled a suicide). This case had national implication for colleges and universities in allowing legal action against individual campus staff and not the institution.
ACPA will host two delegates from South Africa in mid-June representing the two leading student affairs associations from South Africa. I will travel to South Africa in October to address their student affairs association’s annual convention on student issues in the United States and to further our relationship as collaborating partners in the two year retention study sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation.
The most critical issues facing our campuses and higher education must be addressed by active participation in the midterm elections. We must register ourselves and our students and educate ourselves on the issues and what candidates would serve the best interest of higher education in this country at this particular time. Difficult times lie ahead for education in general in this country and each citizen must be knowledgeable of the issues and exercise their voice. Vote!
Until next time,