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By CCW Staff  /  
2009 December 14 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Calif. College Sued Over Prayer at Group Events

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A community college in Southern California faces a federal lawsuit for opening its public ceremonies with an official prayer.

The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit against the South Orange County Community College District in U.S. District Court.

It alleges school officials at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo routinely invoke prayers at student and faculty events, including scholarship awards ceremonies and training programs.

Saddleback is within the South Orange County district.

David Llewellyn, a school attorney, said Saddleback intends to continue the invocations because they add dignity to the ceremonies and are an accepted part of American public life.

  • RI College Heads Agree to 2 Percent Salary Reduction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The presidents of Rhode Island’s three public colleges as well as about 300 nonunion employees in the state’s higher education system will take a 2 percent pay cut for the next six months to help address budget cuts.

The Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Office of Higher Education have been asked to cut $9.4 million this year.

Acting Higher Education Commissioner Steven Maurano told The Providence Journal the pay cuts will only save about $150,000, although the exact amount is still being calculated.

The remaining savings will likely come through a combination of leaving positions vacant and increasing tuition and fees.

The state faces a $200 million deficit for the current fiscal year.

  • Mass. Adjuncts Head to Court for Health Insurance

BOSTON (AP) — A group of five part-time Massachusetts community college instructors have sued the state, claiming that hundreds of adjunct faculty in the state’s colleges are unfairly denied health care coverage.

The lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court comes after nearly a decade of unsuccessful wrangling with state legislators to get an adjunct health insurance law enacted. It also comes as schools, particularly community colleges, are increasingly turning to adjuncts as enrollment rises.

Joseph LeBlanc, president of the Massachusetts Community College Council, which is among the plaintiffs, told The Boston Globe that he ran out of patience waiting for the state to act.

The state Department of Higher Education and the state’s Group Insurance Commission, both named as defendants, declined comment.

  • Conn. College Enrollment Sets Another Record

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut education officials say enrollment at public and private colleges in the state has set another record, as the bad economy continues to push more people into school for degrees and retraining.

The Department of Higher Education reported that Connecticut’s college enrollment grew to more than 191,200 this fall, a 3.6 percent increase over last fall. It’s the eighth-straight year a record has been set, and the largest annual gain in two decades.

Officials say more than 65 percent of the increase comes from surging enrollment at the state’s 12 community colleges and five two-year private schools.

  • Neb. College Sues Over Loss Of State Aid

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Metropolitan Community College has sued Nebraska’s five other community colleges in an effort to collect millions in state aid dollars.

The lawsuit, filed in Lancaster County District Court, says Metro lost more than $10.8 million because of the state’s miscalculations and the other colleges’ misrepresentations.

Nebraska Community College Association Director Dennis Baack said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit. But he expressed disappointment, saying a lawsuit will use money better spent on education.

Omaha-based Metro was kicked out of the association earlier this year for not paying its full dues for the year. Metro officials said a portion was withheld to protest what they believed was unfair treatment by other colleges in the association

  • Md. To Expand Redesign of College Courses

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland is expanding efforts to redesign college courses responsible for stalling students’ pursuit of degrees with a $1 million grant from the Lumina Foundation.

The foundation is making $9.1 million in grants to seven states to further its goal of increasing the proportion of adults obtaining two- and four-year degrees from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2025.

Nancy Shapiro, University System of Maryland associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the state will probably use its grant money to redesign math courses at community colleges.

Shapiro said a growing number of students need remedial math courses before they can take math or science courses for credit. She says students drop out because they are paying for classes they don’t get credit for.

  • Students Protest Vote To Close Day Care Center

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Community College trustees have voted to close daycare centers on two campuses that serve the children of students.

Outraged students who depend on the service argued against the cut at a recent meeting. The move, to take effect next July at the Meramec and Forest Park, campuses will save $529,000.

The college has said it needs to cut $1 million to balance the budget.

The college said only 200 students of the 28,000 in the system use the centers, and that it can’t justify the cost.

Some student said they will have to drop out of school because other options are too expensive or inconvenient. The centers charge students $4 an hour.

  • Board Proposes Sales Tax for Wyo. Colleges

POWELL, Wyo. (AP) — The Northwest College Board of Trustees is advocating a statewide sales tax to fund Wyoming community colleges.

The resolution won unanimous approval from the board, which oversees the college in Powell, and proposes that the tax eventually be put before voters. Their proposal will be forwarded to the other six college boards for consideration.

The proposal comes after a state task force failed to decide on a plan for colleges to raise money. The state provides 60 percent of the funding for community colleges. The other 40 percent comes from tuition and property taxes levied in the seven counties with colleges.

However, the colleges each serve districts that include multiple counties that pay no taxes to support them. Sixteen of Wyoming’s 23 counties pay nothing to support the community colleges.

  • CC Professor Named Va.’s Top Instructor

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — An assistant biology professor at Virginia Highlands Community College is the Virginia Professor of the Year.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching presented the award to Kevin Hamed.

The Bristol, Tenn., resident said it’s an honor to receive the award. Hamed said the true honor is being able to work with students. Hamed has been a member of the Virginia Highlands faculty since 2003.

  • Microsoft Gives Away Training Vouchers in NC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Microsoft Corp. is giving away nearly 24,000 vouchers to North Carolina residents who want to improve their computer skills so they can improve their lot in the work force.

Gov. Beverly Perdue and the software giant announced the state’s portion of Microsoft’s Elevate America program. The company wants to offer technology training to 2 million Americans over the next three years.

The 23,700 vouchers will be distributed over the next three months. They will provide free online training for Windows and Office software or advanced technical training.

  • Minn. College Changes Mission, Plans New Name

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — St. Cloud Technical College is becoming a community college and plans to change its name.

The MnSCU Board of Trustees has approved the school’s request for a mission change and a name change is pending before the board. The move means the school will now be able to offer associate of arts degrees.

President Joyce Helens says St. Cloud Technical College already has been doing that for the past six years, but under the direction of the Anoka-Ramsey Community College. So even though instructors were holding classes in St. Cloud, the students’ diplomas said they graduated from Anoka-Ramsey.

The board considered the request to change the name to St. Cloud Technical and Community College and could make it official at its January meeting.

  • Agreement Will Provide CC Classes in Mo.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — It took two years of negotiations and a $70,000 analysis, but a new agreement would provide community college access in Cape Girardeau County.

The Southeast Missourian reported that a group of business and education leaders approved an agreement calling for course offerings starting next fall at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center.

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