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2015 April 19 - 11:49 am

News Briefs

A summary listing of higher-ed-related news from around the nation


La. Colleges Eye Oil Spill Money

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Higher education leaders are eyeing Gulf oil spill recovery money as a possible long-term financing source for Louisiana’s college campuses.

The Board of Regents supports a proposal sponsored by Rep. Walt Leger, D- New Orleans, that could steer to public colleges some of the money Louisiana is expected to receive from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the 2010 spill.

Those dollars are separate from other civil penalties from violations of environmental laws, money that’s required to be set aside for coastal restoration and protection projects.

Lawmakers already have earmarked the first $1 billion in economic damages money to repay Louisiana’s “rainy day” fund and an elderly trust fund that have been used to plug budget gaps in recent years.

Leger’s bill, according to the Board of Regents, would target oil spill money above that, place it into a fund and require the interest earnings be spent on higher education.

The economic damages claims are the subject of ongoing federal litigation, and it’s unclear when any of the money might be available to the state.

The money wouldn’t help colleges as they face the possibility of steep cuts in the upcoming budget year, but it could give the campuses a dedicated and stable stream of funding in future years.

Texas Aid Scammer Gets Prison Term

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas woman who received more than $60,000 in college financial aid but never finished any online courses must serve more than two years in prison.

Sussette Sheree Timmons was convicted last year on six counts of financial institution fraud.

Prosecutors in Dallas say the 42- year-old Timmons enrolled via the Internet for online studies and had financial aid applied to her tuition or checks were sent to her. She withdrew from more than a dozen colleges or universities since 2009.

Timmons received financial aid from New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University, Ashford University, Northern New Mexico College, Coconino Community College and Pima Community College.

Harper College Creates Free Tuition Program

PALATINE, Ill. (AP) — A north-suburban Chicago community college says it will start offering two free years of tuition to students who maintain certain qualifications.

Harper College in Palatine announced the Promise Scholarship program. Harper President Kenneth Ender says the school wants to attract students who “show grit and determination.”

Harper College developed the Promise Scholarship in partnership with area public high schools and Northwest suburban business leaders with the goal of removing financial barriers for hardworking students while fostering the responsibility and life skills that will help them succeed in school, on the job, and beyond.

“A college credential has never been more crucial to success than in today’s 21st century economy,” Ender said. “This program has the potential to positively impact not only deserving and motivated students, but the entire region by presenting employers with an educated and skilled workforce.”

High school students will qualify if they are at least C- students, perform community service, graduate high school on time and meet attendance benchmarks. Students

also will need to maintain similar requirements while attending Harper College to receive the four semesters of free tuition. The program starts with this fall’s class.

Harper officials estimate the program will cost $600,000 to $900,000 per year. They say the program is affordable because estimates show only 3 to 5 percent of incoming freshmen will be eligible.

NJCAA Agrees To Eliminate Rule On Eligibility

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s attorney general reached a settlement with the National Junior College Athletic Association to eliminate a rule that limited sports eligibility primarily to students who attended at least three years of high school in the United States.

That rule violated city and state laws against discrimination based on national origin, the settlement agreement said.

Community colleges enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduates, and about one-fourth have an immigrant background.

Several community colleges in New York brought the issue to Schneiderman’s attention last year, including some denied exemptions by the association.

In the fall of 2013, about 39 percent of students enrolled at community colleges within the City University of New York system were born outside the mainland U.S., the attorney general’s office said.

The concern among some open-enrollment schools, which led to the rule initially in 2012, was that competitors were fielding older foreign athletes.

The NJCAA board voted to eliminate the rule, which required 75 percent of the players on a team to have spent three years in a U.S. high school, according to the association.

Nissan Donates $250,000 for STEM Programs

CANTON, Miss. (AP) — Nissan is donating $250,000 to supporting science, math and engineering programs at six Mississippi historical black colleges.

The funds will go to Alcorn State University, Coahoma Community College, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Rust College and Tougaloo College with resources to support their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

Jeffrey Webster, Nissan’s director of diversity and inclusion, says in a news release that each school will be able to promote a range of STEM related programs in applied sciences, engineering, math, computer and information science and others.

BRCC Breaks Ground on Training Center

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State officials have broken ground for the Baton Rouge Community College’s Center of Excellence for Transportation Technology.

The automotive training center will be one of the anchors of the Ardendale development, which will be built on a 200-acre tract northeast of BRCC.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1BSjfxZ ) the center will train college and high school students to work as mechanics and give them a chance to become familiar with the latest equipment.

The center will also be a place where veteran mechanics can complete certification programs. Plans are to open the training center between fall 2016 and early 2017.

Miss. College To Spend $14.5 on Improvements

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Itawamba Community College plans to spend $14.5 million over five years on upgrades to its campus in Tupelo.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1LSafB0 ) the plan is to transform buildings that were built when the campus primarily served vocational students into ones that better accommodate current academic offerings.

“We believe the Tupelo campus will be where our population growth will be in the future,” ICC President Mike Eaton said in announcing the project in a faculty meeting.

Eaton said plans for Tupelo include construction of a new 62,000-square-foot academic building. The technical education building will be renovated to house natural science classes and a new physical plant will be constructed.

About half of the project will be financed by funds the school has construction work. The twoyear school has about $7 million in the bank from past state bonds that it will use for this project.

Idaho College Buys Land, Plans Expansion

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — The College of Western Idaho is expanding its campus with a new land purchase.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1CIr2At ) the college’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal to enter into a purchase agreement for 32.5 acres of land on the north boundary of the school’s Nampa campus.

The proposed campus expansion stems from growth in enrollment since the college opened its doors in 2009. Between 2009 and 2014, the college added over 9,000 students, making it the largest community college in Idaho.

More than 50 percent of the college’s student population comes from Ada County.

As a short-term solution for addressing the growth, the college is leased multiple buildings to serve as classroom space in Boise and Nampa.

Honda Initiative Takes Aim at Skills Gap

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Honda North America has announced a $1 million Ohiobased workforce development initiative designed to create interest in manufacturing careers and prepare people for high-tech jobs in the industry.

Honda said the new program aims to proactively address the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing. It includes programs for middle school to community college students, as well as initiatives for current Honda employees. The effort was announced at the company’s plant in Maryville in central Ohio.

As part of the effort, Honda worked with Ohio educational game developer Edheads to create a first-of-its kind manufacturing video game designed for classroom use.

It also will offer scholarships, feature summer “techie camps” for students, mobile labs for hands-on learning opportunities and expansion of the work-study pilot program developed with Columbus State Community College.

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