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By CCWeek Staff  /  
2018 March 14 - 04:36 pm

News Briefs

A Summary Listing of Higher-Ed-Related News from Around The Nation

Fla. Legislators Agree To Boost Financial Aid

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s top performing high school students may get a boost in help for college under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature.

Both the House and Senate passed a sweeping higher education bill that would permanently increase the amount of money provided under the state’s popular Bright Futures scholarship.

It heads to the desk of Gov.

Rick Scott, who vetoed a similar bill last year.

Florida used to pay anywhere from 75 percent to 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the state’s Bright Futures, but it was scaled back during the Great Recession.

The legislation also includes a provision that eliminates “free speech zones” on college campuses.

Some legislators voted no because the bill would allow state universities or colleges to be sued if students or others intentionally disrupt or hinder a campus speaker.

Ky. Chancellor Tracy Stepping Down

VERSAILLES, Ky. (AP) — The chancellor of Kentucky’s community and technical college system is stepping down.

A release from KCTCS says Chancellor Rhonda Tracy announced she was leaving due to family obligations. She joined the community college system three years ago.

The chancellor is the system’s chief academic officer.

The college system’s vice president, Larry Ferguson, will assume the role of acting chancellor while maintaining his other duties.

KCTCS says in a release it will begin the search for a new chancellor in the next fiscal year.

Tidewater CC Layoffs Come Amid Turmoil

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Virginia community college president has announced a new round of layoffs amid a spat with faculty members.

The Virginian-Pilot reports Tidewater Community College President Edna Baehre-Kolovani sent an email to faculty, saying layoffs in the English and emergency medical services departments would take effect June 30.

The announcement follows a leaked document authored by faculty members that declared an unofficial vote of no confidence against Baehre-Kolovani and an executive vice president, citing a lack of transparency, professional communication, and other issues. Faculty members said they had been excluded from key conversations, and expressed unhappiness with the handling of a 2016 phishing scam that exposed the personal information of more than 3,000 current and former employees.

Baehre-Kolovani says the document is inaccurate.

Umpqua CC Renames Snyder Hall

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — The newest academic building at Umpqua Community College will be named Tapho`ytha’ (duh-poi’- tuh) Hall.

The name approved is derived from the Takelma language and means to be blessed and to prosper.

The building replaces Snyder Hall, which was demolished a year after the October 2015 mass shooting that left the gunman and nine others dead.

The college says it wanted to use a Native American word to recognize the area’s history, and to honor the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians.

Snyder Hall had been named for Ralph Snyder, one of the school’s original administrators. The name has been reassigned to the campus fountain.

Wash. College President Quits After Allegations

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The acting president of Spokane Falls Community College has resigned amid workplace sexual harassment allegations.

The Spokesman-Review reports 49-year-old Darren Pitcher stepped down to focus on his health and his family, according to a news release.

Carolyn Casey with the Community Colleges of Spokane confirmed to the newspaper that school officials had been looking into claims of sexual harassment against Pitcher but said she could not go into detail.

She says the investigation was closed after Pitcher submitted his resignation letter and no conclusion was reached.

Pitcher joined the college in 2012 and served as the school’s vice president for student services until last summer, when he became acting president.

Provost Nancy Fair-Szofran will lead the college until a permanent president is selected this spring.

Fla. Higher Ed Bill Axes Campus Free Speech Zones

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s House of Representatives has passed a sweeping higher education bill that eliminates “free speech zones” on college campuses.

The House voted 84-28 on a Senate bill (SB 4), which now includes a measure that would allow state universities or colleges to be sued if students or others intentionally disrupt or hinder a campus speaker.

The full bill now heads back to the Senate. A similar campus free expression bill was voted down in a Senate committee.

College To Study Lake Superior Biodiversity

BAY MILLS, Mich. (AP) — Bay Mills Community College has received a federal grant to study biodiversity and pollution levels in Lake Superior’s Waishkey Bay.

The bay is an important recreational and cultural resource for members of the Bay Mills Indian Community and tourists.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the college $216,000 for the study. One part will involve taking samples to analyze levels of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides and micro-plastics in the water.

Another will provide training and surveys to inventory the bay’s freshwater mussels, which are susceptible to pollution and can provide information about water quality.

Lake Superior State University’s Environmental Analysis Lab and Wayne State University’s Lumigen Instrument Center will perform chemical analysis on samples collected.

Bay Mills Indian Community’s Biological Services Department will help with training and sample collection.

N. Carolina Mulls Reducing Paid Holidays

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina might curb the number of paid holidays community college employees are allowed, following a recent report.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the state auditor’s office compiled a report showing 31 of 58 community colleges gave employees more than 12 paid holidays during the 2016-2017 school year.

State Board of Community Colleges chair Scott Shook and the acting president of the community college system, Jennifer Haygood, said in a written response that offering more holidays than the state government standard is not good public policy and will be corrected, likely this spring.

But Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College spokeswoman Kerry Glover says employees are not covered by state personnel policies. She also said closing buildings for the holidays saves utility costs, a point echoed by other community college officials.

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