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2016 July 20 - 04:27 pm

News Briefs

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

Ky. Colleges Cut 500 Jobs To Close $26M Budget Gap

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Community and Technical College System has eliminated more than 500 positions and suspended some college programs, all in an effort to close a $26 million gap in its budget.

KCTCS spokeswoman Mary Hemlepp said 505 positions have recently been eliminated system-wide. She says 191 of those positions were faculty and 315 were staff, but because many of the positions were vacant or were vacated through retirements, only 45 faculty and 125 staff were actually laid off.

Hemlepp says the college system’s financial problems stemmed from seven years of state appropriation cuts and an additional 4.5 percent in the next biennium. Several years of declining enrollment also led to tuition shortfalls.

KCTCS President Jay Box announced earlier this month that next year’s tuition is being increased by 6.1 percent.

Banned Minnesota College Instructor Is Reinstated

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — An instructor banned from campus at Inver Hills Community College has been told he can return and resume teaching.

Sociology instructor Dave Berger helped lead a no-confidence vote against the school’s president in January. He was put on paid leave in February after a complaint of an unspecified nature was filed.

The Star Tribune reports (http://strib.mn/1XUIbkx ) Berger was told this week he can return and that the investigation is reaching its conclusion. Berger says it’s good he’ll get to teach but that the college continues to bar him from speaking about the investigation with colleagues or students.

Berger sued the college and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system two weeks ago, claiming retaliation for union activities.

Tulsa CC Cutting 30 Part- and Full-time Jobs

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa Community College is planning to eliminate 15 full-time and 15 parttime staff positions because of state funding cuts.

President Leigh Goodson announced the reductions in an email to faculty and staff. The eliminated jobs are in addition to more than 180 pared through attrition over the past two years.

“State budget failures this year and further reductions expected for next year will reduce TCC’s state funding by a possible $7 million compared to the budget we started FY16 with in July,” Goodson said in her email. “The financial implications are significant for TCC.”

Goodson said the college will save more than $1 million by eliminating the 30 positions. Officials said the layoffs don’t include faculty.

The college’s payroll has dropped from $87 million to $80.7 million over the past two years, which Goodson called “a significant decrease.”

Goodson said that the money saved can’t be redirected toward new or expanded programs intended to hike graduation rates and retention.

“The same thing is happening at every level of education,” she said. “Pick your institution and what it should be doing for students. We can’t invest. We can’t pivot to meet student trends.”

State Budget Cuts Mean NM Layoffs

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — Luna Community College announced it is cutting job amid major budget cuts.

The Las Vegas Optic reports (http://goo.gl/kvPaC6) President Leroy “Huero” Sanchez issued letters to at least five employees, notifying them that they won’t have jobs come July 1.

The layoff notices came just two days after the Luna Community College Board of Trustees approved a new organizational chart for the college.

Sanchez has said that the new organizational chart contains savings for the college as the school faces a shortfall.

Gary Martinez, Luna’s director of trades, was one of those who received layoff notice. He says employees who are being let go weren’t given reasons.

Nev. College Awards Degree Posthumously

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Truckee Meadows Community College for the first time has awarded a degree posthumously, to a discharged Marine who killed himself last year.

Joshua Beal’s wife accepted his diploma during college commencement ceremonies.

Beal was 28 years old when he shot himself in June 2015, just six credits shy from graduating from the community college.

His wife said Beal was planning to get his associate degree and then go to dental school.

Beal served as a Marine Corps sniper, warfare leader and paratrooper and was discharged following a traumatic brain injury during his last deployment.

Tenn. Placing Counselors in High Schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has announced the launch of a $2.4 million program that will provide college counselors to 30 public high schools across the state.

The Governor’s Office says in a statement that Advise TN supports the state’s campaign to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree to 55 percent by 2025.

Counselors will be hired and trained in the summer and will work with about 10,000 juniors and seniors statewide. They will help students prepare for the ACT, work on college applications and Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

To be eligible, high schools must have average college-going rates that fall below the state average. Public high schools must apply to participate and will be selected by the Tennessee Higher Education Committee based on their commitment to creating a college-going culture.

Iowa College Asks Public for Naming Help

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines Area Community College is relying heavily on the public to help name its new student activity and community recreation center on its Ankeny campus.

After receiving suggestions from the public in April, the college is putting forth five names from which to choose for the new center, the Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1RfB1zF ).

The suggested names are ARCH, or Ankeny Recreation & Community Health; ConneXion Aquatics & Recreation; COR Aquatics & Recreation; Trail Point Aquatics & Recreation; and The Trail Aquatics & Recreation.

College officials explained that ConneXion refers to the connections the facility can make and provide with the community, and the “X” could refer to the word “exercise” or a desired location on a map. COR is Latin for “heart,” and would mean a central interaction point for the community. The “trail” suggestions reference the Ankeny campus’ location near Prairie Trail and High Trestle Trail.

The winning name will be announced in midsummer, college spokeswoman Susan Metheny said.

The activities complex will open in September, and the recreation center will open in February or March.

City Mulls Local Tax To Cover College Costs

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Olympia City Council is drafting an ordinance that would tax all city households to create a fund to send kids to college. The proposal would go before voters in November.

If the idea becomes law, Olympia could become the first city in Washington with a local income tax.

The Olympian reports (https://is.gd/6xxZm6) it comes in response to a local petition. The council voted 4-3 to draft a tax proposal.

Volunteer group Opportunity for Olympia began circulating a petition in April that seeks a 1.5 percent tax on any household income in excess of $200,000. The tax would be expected to raise about $2.5 million to pay the first year of tuition at any community college or apply tuition at a public university for every public high school graduate in Olympia. Ariz. Enacts Free- Speech Protections PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed two bills protecting the public’s right to free speech on college campuses.

The measures prevent colleges and universities from restricting free speech in a public forum and lay out guidelines for when limitations are acceptable.

They also award court and attorney fees to students who are successful in lawsuits against universities and community colleges for illegally restricting First Amendment rights.

Ducey said in a statement that the measures allow for a diversity of opinions to flourish at colleges without fear of intimidation or retribution.

Paradise Valley Community College is currently involved in a lawsuit for creating a free speech zone prosecutors say had a chilling effect on students.

Judge Says Ky. Gov. Can Cut College Budgets

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge has ruled the state’s Republican governor can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the state legislature’s approval.

The decision is the latest development in a monthslong feud between Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of Bevin’s Democratic predecessor, Gov. Steve Beshear.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate says two state laws allow Bevin to reduce allotments for public colleges and universities. Wingate said Bevin was not adjusting the colleges’ appropriation; he was just ordering them not to spend all of it.

Bevin proposed the mid-year cuts in January. The state legislature didn’t approve them. Bevin ordered the cuts anyway. Attorney General Beshear sued him.

Beshear said he’ll appeal the ruling. He says it gives the governor dangerous levels of power.

Engine Dedicated To Firefighter’s Memory

PALOS HILLS, Ill. (AP) — A fire engine has been donated to a suburban Chicago community college in memory of a fallen firefighter.

Moraine Valley Community College’s fire academy students will use the vehicle for training. It comes from the Orland Fire Protection District, which has been keeping the engine in operating condition after retiring it.

The Daily Southtown reports (http://trib.in/1WGt8eo ) the fire district inscribed the engine with the words “In Memory of Daniel Capuano, Dec. 14, 2015.”

Capuano of the Chicago Fire Department died after falling into an open elevator shaft while battling a warehouse fire. The father of three had taken classes at Moraine Valley Community College.

Orland Fire Protection District Chief Michael Schofield spoke at a ceremony at the school, saying Capuano will be a “guardian angel” to fire academy trainees.

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