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Daily News higher education reporter Peter Sachs weighs in with news about the hot topics on campus.

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Where’s Wayne?

Even though his contract says otherwise, Chicago State University President Wayne Watson did not start work on Aug. 1.

The former City Colleges of Chicago chancellor was to make the switch one day after leaving the City Colleges.

Felicia Horton, a spokeswoman at CSU, could not immediately explain what the holdup is, and Watson hasn’t called us back yet.

“Dr. Westbrooks is the senior administrator acting for the Board of Trustees until Dr. Wayne Watson assumes authority of the presidency on Oct. 1, 2009,” Horton said, reading from a written statement.

Sandra Westbrooks is CSU’s provost. She was also one...more

Transparency at City Colleges? Not so much

When Deidra Lewis was introduced to the City Colleges of Chicago at its July board meeting, she pledged to make a “commitment to transparency” as the district's new interim chancellor.

But when we tried to talk to her Monday about the high-level musical chairs at the City Colleges, all we got was this three-sentence statement e-mailed by spokeswoman Elsa Tullos, and attributed to Lewis:

“Anticipating the beginning of the academic year, City Colleges made personnel appointments and shifts in assignments to ensure continuity of service to our students.  Such changes among the colleges and the district office are not unprecedented....more

Roundup: New reports on student aid, graduation rates

The American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit research group, sliced and diced graduation rates nationwide to come up with lists of universities with the highest and lowest six-year rates. Chicago State and Northeastern Illinois are near the bottom at 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively. The study pools colleges by how competitive they are, so Illinois Institute of Technology ended up in the bottom five of its group, with a six-year graduation rate of 67 percent. The numbers varied widely among Chicago-area schools. Forbes has an article on the big picture. Or go straight to the report with the...more

Musical chairs at City Colleges

While On Campus was on vacation, the City Colleges of Chicago shuffled presidents at half its campuses and moved around at least a dozen high-level administrators as well.

The changes were formalized at the Aug. 6 district board meeting, just days after Deidra Lewis took over as interim chancellor.

I’ll be spending today trying to figure out what prompted these changes, and why two female college presidents handed in their resignations. If you have any insights, leave a comment below, e-mail me or give me a call at 773-362-5002, x18.

Here are the biggest changes, as found scattered throughout the...more

UIC gets grant for new research center

A $7.2 million grant for a new research center will allow the University of Illinois-Chicago to identify areas of the city afflicted by disparities in the treatment of breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities will delve into cultural beliefs, various socio-economic issues and obstructions to medical access related to cancer.  

UIC spokeswoman Jeanne Galatzer-Levy says construction of the center has yet to be planned.

“It's hard to say exactly when the center will be up and running,” she says.

Elizabeth Calhoun, associate professor of health policy and administration at the...more

Some questions for Jones and Stroger

We've been trying to reach Emil Jones and Todd Stroger for several days now to talk to them about their involvement in some questionable spending at WYCC, the public TV station at the City Colleges of Chicago.

I heard last night from Jones' spokesman, who says he is out of the country for the rest of the week. Hopefully we'll be able to speak with him upon his return, and Stroger before then.

In the meantime, here are some questions we'd like to ask if either of these two gents is kind enough to...more

Daley knocks WYCC videos

At today's back-to-school press conference, I asked Mayor Richard Daley what he had to say to taxpayers who might be concerned whether WYCC is spending their money appropriately.

WYCC, you'll recall, is the public television station owned by the City Colleges of Chicago. We broke an exclusive story yesterday about documents suggesting the station used its budget to produce free videos of powerful politicians and friends of Chancellor Wayne Watson.

The videos, which were never aired, showcased golf events, a fundraiser and a "State Senate California Trip" in connection with Emil Jones, who was the...more

Local universities participate in new GI Bill program

The venerable GI Bill is getting a boost from Washington, the White House announced yesterday.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program is giving veterans the most generous educational benefits since the original GI Bill was implemented in 1944, the White House said in a statement.

Sixty-three Illinois colleges, including  nearly 30 in Chicago, are participating in the program, which funds some veterans’ tuition, which matching contributions from the federal government.

“Sixty-five years ago, a grateful nation offered a generation of World War II heroes the chance to go to college,” said President Barack Obama, in the statement. “The...more

Will feds investigate Jones, Stroger over WYCC videos?

When a news organization breaks a story about public officials doing funny things with taxpayer money (see Peter Sachs' fantastic scoop yesterday), one of the most interesting questions that inevitably arises is: Will someone go to jail?

Because funny business is one thing, but packing Emil Jones or Todd Stroger off to Club Fed is quite another.

Peter's story disclosed that WYCC, the public television station operated by the City Colleges of Chicago,  used its budget to produce free videos of powerful politicians and friends of Chancellor Wayne Watson.

The videos, which were never aired,...more

Former CSU prez speaks out

Inside Higher Ed spent about 500 words today on former Chicago State University President Frank Pogue, who held the position in an interim role for a year. The section about Pogue is part of a longer article about roving college presidents who come in to help turn schools around or pull them back from the brink.

Pogue gives a candid assessment of CSU when he arrived: “loose budgeting” across the campus and a lack of an athletics budget meant that department ran up $3 million in charges in one year with no way to cover those costs. That won’t...more

Higher ed roundup: waxalicious edition

Remember the brouhaha at DePaul over the firing of the law school’s dean? Turns out the American Bar Association doesn’t actually care that much. The school’s accreditation won’t be affected. But that doesn’t mean some of the faculty of the law school are done stamping their feet. If you’re a student there, does any of this matter at all to you? 

The fifth annual Printer's Ball comes to Columbia College tomorrow night. It’s all free. The night includes poetry readings, printmaking demonstrations, music and the chance to pick up copies of dozens of literary publications and...more

Slight relief for students getting MAP grants

If you’re counting on state Monetary Award Program grants to help you pay for tuition when you go back to college this fall, we’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.

First the good news: You’ll get all the money you were promised for the fall term, says Paul Palian, the spokesman for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

“We are making students whole for the first semester,” Palian says.

That’s an improvement over what we last reported.

Previously, ISAC thought it would only get enough money this year to fund the grants at about 85 cents...more

More indications of retaliation at City Colleges

Ramona Shaw's employment discrimination lawsuit against the City Colleges is the gift that keeps on giving, shedding light on the inner workings of a large bureaucracy that is usually opaque to the public.

Last week, we reported that there was a culture of retaliation inside the City Colleges, citing the deposition of the district’s former general counsel, now a circuit court judge. There’s more to it.

Now that we’ve had time to go through yet more of the depositions, we find this:

“Non-African-Americans were easy to promote and were not punished as severely if they made a mistake,...more

Layoffs at City Colleges as district responds to state cuts

The City Colleges of Chicago has now laid off 58 people as part of an effort to cut $15.5 million from its new budget.

The district’s board unanimously approved the $492 million annual budget at a meeting this morning. It also approved some of the layoffs – 48 today and 10 earlier this month – because the district doesn’t fully know the fallout from the state budget Gov. Pat Quinn signed last week, district finance director Ken Gotsch says.

“What’s unclear about the state budget is really, how is that going to affect student financial aid?”...more

Higher ed roundup: funds for UIC, UChicago = Hogwarts

If the latest back-and-forth at DePaul is a little too wonky for you, chew on these links:

  • UIC snagged a $20 million federal grant for medical research – part of $171 in grants the NIH handed out (Crains).
  • New gambling laws mean Colorado community colleges will get millions of dollars in new revenue. The state’s community college system was one of the most vocal backers of the changes (NYTimes).
  • UChicago looks like Hogwarts, and even has residential “houses” with rivalry. All that’s missing is quidditch (Trib).
  • A new look at who got Pell Grants in 2000...more