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NEWS DIGEST, Dec. 14

ON OUR CAMPUSES

Uncertainty of Energy Markets Prods Colleges to Build Plants Fueled by Biomass
Eastern Illinois University expects similar savings from a new $58-million steam plant it is testing this month, says Gary Reed, director of facilities planning and management. The plant, constructed by Honeywell International under a long-term contract with the university, will replace a worn-out coal plant built in the 1920s. It is expected to save enough in fuel costs to pay for itself in 20 years. (Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 11) READ

BOT Meeting Dec. 16
The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will discuss phase two of the steam line renewal project, residence hall and University Union projects and an energy management strategy for Western, as well as elect officers, at the Friday, Dec. 16 Board meeting in the University Union Capitol Rooms on the WIU-Macomb campus. (WIU News Release, Dec. 12) READ

State pays 2011 fiscal year in full
(Daily Eastern News, Dec. 11) READ


OUR CONSTITUENCIES: NON-TENURE TRACK

Islam (and Conflict) in Class
Two Muslim students at a Texas college disrupt a world religions class to challenge an adjunct professor's interpretations. He then quits to protest what he calls college's failure to back him up. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 14) READ


SCHOOLS ACROSS THE STATE

SIU student registration not looking good
Spring registration is behind by about 3 percent compared to this time last year. Freshman applications for fall are behind by about 1.5 percent compared to last year. (Southern Illinoisan, Dec. 14) READ

Job Training Push by City Colleges of Chicago
(Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 14) READ

Graduate assistants' stipends again being reduced by taxation
For some students, especially out-of-state or international students with tuition waivers worth $30,000-plus, the withholding eats up a huge chunk of their stipends. As a result, several of them wound up with $0 paychecks in October and November. (Champaign News-Gazette, Dec. 14) READ

Letter to the Editor: St. Xavier University fights union organizing
St. Xavier University sought to have the National Labor Relations Board dismiss a union representation election petition filed by the Illinois Education Association on behalf of the part-time (adjunct) faculty. Following two and a half days of testimony, the NLRB regional office ruled that, though SXU was affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy, it provided a secular education and that an adjunct union woul (Chicago Union News, Dec. 13) READ

As questions arise, more charters planned for Chicago

(Catalyst Chicago, Dec. 12) READ

SIU trustees OK contracts with 4 bargaining units
The Southern Illinois University system's overseers have signed off on contracts with four bargaining units representing workers at the university's Carbondale campus, including the Faculty Association, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, Graduate Assistants United and the Association of Civil Service. The Faculty Association reached the deal Nov. 9, nearly a week after many of its members went on strike at the 20,000-student university. In other matters, university President Glenn Poshard said the system has received 30 percent of its state appropriations for fiscal year 2012. (AP, Dec. 9) READ

[Chicago] City Colleges, local corporations to partner
(Catalyst Chicago, Dec. 12) READ

Report: Cook County seldom prosecutes college-campus sex assault cases as felonies 
Cook County prosecutors seldom file felony charges against students accused of sexual violence on college campuses. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 4) READ

CPS to add 12 charter schools amid closures
Chicago Public Schools announced plans Monday to add 12 new charters, including more campuses for networks with less-than-stellar scores. The announcement comes as the district fends off protests as it seeks to close other schools. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 12) READ


IN AND ABOUT SPRINGFIELD

Illinois prepaid tuition program names new investment director
The state agency running College Illinois has tapped an investment manager from the $38-billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System to be chief investment officer of the beleaguered college savings program. (Crain's Chicago Business, Dec. 13) READ

State's prepaid tuition program has 30% funding gap, report says
Deficit nearly $560 million as of March 31, consultants say (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 13) READ

House committee votes to restore pensions to two union lobbyists
A bill aimed at rolling back a crackdown on potential pension abuses by Illinois Federation of Teachers and Chicago union officials did not surface Monday in the Illinois House and appears to be dead for the year.
(Springfield State Journal-Register, Dec. 11) READ

House Democrats try to weaken Illinois pension reform
Democratic Rep. Kevin McCarthy said he's sponsoring the revised version because the other one could run afoul of the state's constitution. The reason, he said, is because it would reduce benefits of current union leaders and potentially some retirees. The points reflected concerns of the city laborers retirement fund, whose leaders warned that the legislation lawmakers already passed would trigger lawsuits. McCarthy's legislation would prevent future cases of abuse. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 12) READ


IN D.C.

Education Dept. Releases Biennial Report on Academic Libraries
In the 2010 fiscal year, academic libraries in the United States lent about 11.2 million documents to other libraries and spent about $1.2-billion on electronic subscriptions to current serials, according to the results of a survey released today by the National Center for Education Statistics, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Education. (Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 14) READ


FOR PROFITS

Pay Data Sought for For-Profit Colleges
Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, says he wants to know whether executive pay is "appropriately tied to the performance of students they educate." (New York Times, Dec. 12) READ

With Lobbying Blitz, For-Profit Colleges Diluted New Rules
A ferocious pushback led Education Department and White House officials to relax an effort to cut off the huge flow of federal financial aid to unfit educational programs. (New York Times, Dec. 9) READ


THE BUSINESS OF HIGHER ED

The 10 lowest college graduation rates in D.C., Md. and Va.
(Washington Post, Dec. 13) READ

Ind. higher education panel approves new standard for transferring, performance-based funding
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is trying to make it easier for students to transfer between colleges and is giving money to colleges based on their performance. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 13) READ

Academic Libraries in Flux
Overall in 2010, the libraries spent a total of $6.83 billion. Six years years earlier, in 2004, academic libraries spent a total of $5.75 billion — the equivalent of $6.61 billion in 2010 dollars. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 14) READ

Universities rush to keep their brands off .xxx porn sites
Here’s an interesting task for university public relations offices: Come up with a list of potential porn sites that might be created using your school’s name, and buy those domains before someone else does. (Washington Post, Dec. 13) READ

Something’s Smoking
Later this month, at the annual meeting where most philosophy job interviews take place, part of the hiring process will take place at “the smoker,” at which candidates and search committees mingle over drinks, with hiring committees at tables around the room. It's gone on that way for as long as many people can remember. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 12) READ

AAUP Concerns on Academic Freedom at Shorter
Members of the faculty at Shorter University, which recently instituted new faith statements that, among other requirements, ban gay staff members, have consulted with the American Association of University Professors, which is concerned that the new requirements threaten academic freedom. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 13) READ


COLLEGES ACROSS THE NATION

Rutgers student's parents start foundation to honor son
Fifteen months after their son jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge, the parents of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi are speaking out. They're doing a whirlwind of media interviews as they begin fundraising for a new foundation created to honor their son. (USA Today, Dec. 13) READ

Lawsuit raises questions about therapy dogs at colleges
A federal lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney, which denied the request of a student with a psychological disability to keep a therapy dog in her university-owned apartment off campus, could signal a shift in how institutions will be expected to handle such accommodations in the future. (USA Today, Dec. 13) READ

Occupy Someone Else
Their voices have gone hoarse. They’ve broken windows and clashed with police officers. They’ve faced pepper spray and attracted national news attention. The story is the same across the country – students, upset about tuition hikes, are protesting. And while the images may last, the message has not had much impact on the what colleges are charging. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 9) READ

Open CourseWare 2.0
How close can Stanford's computer science department get to offering world-class courses for free? (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 13) READ

More Students With Disabilities Heading to College
For a growing number of students with intellectual disabilities, college is becoming a bridge between special education and work. (Education Week, Dec. 13) READ


K-12

Wis. School Districts Move Toward Merit Pay for Teachers
Instead of pay raises awarded on the basis of education credits and years of experience—long a hallmark of teachers union salary structures—Superintendent Daryl Herrick said the district wanted to distribute annual bonuses to teachers based on the quality of their work. (Education Week, Dec. 12) READ


PENSIONS

OPINION: Special-risk pensions for lottery agents?
Retirement plans that function like 401(k)s would limit taxpayers' future liabilities while being much more transparent. They would also prevent the kind of abuse, documented in the USA TODAY report, that allows someone to work at a low-risk job for 20 years and collect a pension for 40. (USA Today, Dec. 13) READ

Opposing view: Don't blame government workers' pensions
Although inflated pension benefits typically paid to high-ranking government executives receive a lot of attention, less than one-half of 1% of pensioners obtain benefits of $100,000 or more. Indeed, pensions of $10,000 a year or less are far more common, yet we rarely see news media reports on the struggles faced by those who simply do not have sufficient income in retirement. (USA Today, Dec. 13) READ


UNIONS

Union Plus Mortgage Helped Striking Verizon Workers
When thousands of Communications Workers of America members went on strike against Verizon to protect their jobs, pay and benefits in August, workers on the picket line didn’t need to worry about missing a home payment when their paychecks stopped. Sixteen CWA members at Verizon received $36,640 in interest-free loans and grants to cover their September mortgage payments during the August strike. Nearly $16,000 was grant money that never needs to be repaid. (AFL-CIO Now Blog, Dec. 11) READ

Florida Union Boss Resigns, Receives Big Pay Day
Broward union president Pat Santeramo is under investigation for alleged financial misdealings, and resigns with a quarter of a million dollar paycheck (Education News, Dec. 11) READ


UNIONS NATIONWIDE

90 percent of Wisconsin school unions OK certification
School employees approved state certification for about 90 percent of the unions seeking the limited collective bargaining rights allowed under Wisconsin's controversial new law governing public employees, officials said. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, Dec. 7) READ

Raritan Valley's professors stuck in salary limbo
If Raritan Valley Community College has its way in a labor dispute with faculty, at least one professor may have trouble making ends meet. It won't just mean skimping on restaurant dinners or cutting back on vacations, said Mark Cozin, 63, an associate sociology and anthropology professor. He said he may have to pick up a second job just to pay his bills. "I know I'm going to be worrying about things that will take away from what I can do in my discipline," he said. (The Newark [N.J.]Star-Ledger, Dec. 11) READ

Indiana Republicans make anti-union bill their top priority, despite lack of support from voters+
With a so-called right to work bill dead in New Hampshire, the fight moves to Indiana, where Republican legislators have said that passing the anti-union measure is their top priority and the American Legislative Exchange Council has ridden into town to help them accomplish it. (Daily Kos, Dec. 7) READ

Child Labor, Torture and Rape: Attempts to Regulate the Brutal Diamond Industry Failing
The holiday season is a time of material pleasures, but it's also a time to take stock of how our social values tend to be at odds with the objects we most prize. (AlterNet, Dec. 11) READ


KINDA STRANGE

Presenting the Ten Greediest Americans of 2011
You don't have to make a million to rate as an all-star greedster. You do have to be ruthless, self-absorbed and grossly insensitive. What Illinois greedster made the list? (AlterNet, Feb. 13) READ

Local union cries foul over contract with company that makes Oscars
The union that represents the makers of the iconic Academy Award statue is crying foul over contract negotiations with the Chicago-based awards manufacturer. Teamsters Local 743 blasted the North Side establishment, R.S. Owens & Co., for proposing a three-year deal that includes a wage freeze, cuts to health care benefits and less vacation time for its 50 union employees. (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 12) READ