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2011 May 30 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • NM Announces College Expansion Moratorium

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez and education officials have agreed to a two-year moratorium on the expansion of college campuses, giving time for policymakers to rethink how New Mexico finances higher education.

The Republican governor and officials representing public colleges and universities announced the agreement at a news conference at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

“This moratorium will help us strike the right balance between providing accessibility to higher education programs and ensuring that taxpayers are not on the hook for unnecessary expansion,” Martinez said in a statement.

She said the moratorium on the construction of new state-funded buildings will allow for a study of the higher education funding formula to look for ways to save money. The current financing system, the governor said, rewards colleges for have more buildings and establishing campuses in other communities.

New Mexico spends more than $700 million a year on a network of seven universities, 10 branch campuses and seven independent community colleges.

  • Woman Sues College Over Forced Withdrawal

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A western Pennsylvania woman claims she was forced out of the radiology program at a community college after telling her sister about the odd behavior of a hospital technician she was shadowing — only to have someone who then heard about her observations through the grapevine post them on Facebook.

Cara Whitney says in her lawsuit against the Community College of Allegheny County that she didn’t even have a Facebook account at the time. Instead, Whitney says she called her older sister for advice after seeing a radiologist at UPMC McKeesport hospital in January act strangely while on duty.

A CCAC spokesman says the school is still reviewing the federal lawsuit, which accuses administrators of violating Whitney’s rights by forcing her to withdraw or to receive a failing grade.

  • Jury Awards $1.1M to Former Wis. Professor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $1.1 million to a former Madison community college professor who alleged he was retaliated against and fired for complaining about discrimination.

The six-member jury decided in favor of Michael Dubin, who was a history teacher at Madison Area Technical College. His probationary teaching contract was not renewed in 2009, and he remains unemployed.

The jury awarded the 50-year-old former teacher $1 million for future career losses and $100,000 for emotional distress.

Dubin’s attorney, Randall Gold, said his client is “very pleased” with the verdict.

U.S. District Judge William Conley will calculate any back wages that Dubin believes he should receive because of the jury’s award.

Michael Huitink, an attorney for the college and its board, said the school, also known as Madison College, strongly disagrees with the jury’s verdict and is evaluating its legal options, including a possible appeal.

“The recommendation made by the former dean not to renew this professor was based in large part on complaints she received from students. Madison College will continue to support and protect its students and ensure them high-quality education,” Huitink said.

Dubin had taught at the school since 2000.

  • Miss. College Plans To Go Tobacco-Free

BOONEVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Northeast Mississippi Community College will make all of its campuses tobacco free as of Jan. 1.

Ricky Ford, athletic director and dean of student services, tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that the first semester of the 2011-12 academic year will be used to make sure everybody knows what to expect.

Ford says school president Johnny Allen will send a letter to campus groups to announce the transition.

The Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition will help educate students, faculty and staff about smoking-cessation classes.

  • Social Security Payments Eyed For Scholarships

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — TV infomercial star Matthew Lesko is making a Maryland community college the launch pad for a scholarship program funded by Social Security payments people don’t need.

Lesko, who is known for wearing a suit covered in question marks, made three $1,000 donations at Frederick Community College to what he calls the “I Don’t Need My Government Money’ Scholarship Fund.”

Lesko says he makes enough money to live comfortably without a $2,400 monthly Social Security check. He’s asking other wealthy people who get Social Security benefits to consider making similar donations to help community college students in financial need.

Lesko says students are the future and competition for scholarships is fierce.

A spokeswoman for Lesko’s Rockville, Md.-based company, Information USA, says it aims to establish scholarship funds at community colleges nationwide.

  • Ivy Tech Plans To Convert Event Center

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A plan for Ivy Tech Community College to take over a central Indiana county’s event center has gained support from county officials.

The Howard County Commissioners voted 2-1 to give preliminary approval to transferring ownership of the Kokomo Event Center at no cost. The Kokomo Tribune reports the deal calls for the event center and Automotive Heritage Museum to stay in the building for at least three years.

Commissioner Paul Wyman says planners will have time to pick a site closer to Kokomo’s hotels and design a building better suited for conventions.

Event center board member Brad Bagwell says Ivy Tech plans to spend $250,000 on the building and hold classes there starting this fall. Ivy Tech could use the site for future expansion of its neighboring campus.

  • Wacker Donates $150,000 to Tenn. College

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — The president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corp.-North America presented a check for $150,000 to Cleveland State Community College during his commencement speech to the Class of 2011.

Ingomar Kovar, who is from Austria, told graduates that when he was asked to deliver the commencement speech he had to look up what it was on the Internet site Wikipedia.

Kovar also told students during his speech that success requires effort, according to the Cleveland Daily Banner. And he reminded them to learn from their mistakes.

Wacker is a Germany-based solar industry supplier. It recently broke ground on a $1.5 billion polysilicon plant in northern Bradley County.

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