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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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CSU board blasts rubber-stamping, then uses rubber stamp

A Chicago State University board committee spend several minutes today admonishing administrators for not giving the board time to review a list of planned construction projects for the next two years.

But the committee, comprising three of the five board members, unanimously approved both that construction plan and CSU’s budget anyway. Both must still be approved by the full board at its Sept. 23 meeting.

“To give the board only a short notice when you’re going to make major capital investments and (build) fixed assets, I think puts the board under a lot of pressure to make decisions,” Chairman Leon...more

The oops files, CSU edition

This morning’s first Chicago State University committee meeting had a pretty different tone compared to past meetings here that I’ve covered. No students heckling, booing and holding signs this time. And a striking amount of candor, both from the board and from school administrators.

The big oops: In 2006, the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits CSU, asked the school for a report on enrollment and retention issues after it raised concerns about the university’s slipping enrollment figures. It wasn’t happy with what it got, so it asked for another report earlier this year. And now the commission is coming to...more

Higher Ed links: New ways to spend your money

First CSU meeting in 3 months

Two of Chicago State University’s board committees meet tomorrow morning. We’ll be there to cover the action, which includes committee votes on 15 contracts, each worth at least $25,000. The regular board meeting is Sept. 23. Here are the committee meeting agendas.

Student government drama

UIC’s student government has punted again on whether its members should get paid – that was a big issue in last spring’s disputed elections. For now, pay remains ($2,500 for the president, $600 for committee chairs … can I get some of...more

No fees!!* Debit cards have been mostly free since February

It’s been almost a year since City Colleges students started getting hosed with fees when the tried to get their student loan refunds off of special debit cards.

Now it turns out that amid months of back and forth with the U.S. Department of Education over whether the fees were legal … JPMorgan Chase hasn’t been slapping the fees on students since February, City Colleges Treasurer Dolores Javier told us last week.

“The fees are just those ATM withdrawal fees or the teller fees, those are the only fees that are in question,” she says.

Under the Education Department’s rules,...more

Universities to gov: Find magic wad of cash for MAP grants

University presidents are pushing Gov. Pat Quinn to come up with $200 million — and fast — to restore funding for state financial aid grants.

About 140,000 college students across the state are getting the Monetary Award Program grants this fall, but big shortfalls in the state’s budget mean that as of right now, none of those students will be getting the grants in January.

The need-based grants usually range from $2,000 to $4,000 per year and are a key part of financial aid packages for low-income students. Over the summer, students said that without the grants they’d have to...more

Kennedy-King: The gift that keeps on taking all your money

This morning, I'm at the monthly meeting of the City Colleges of Chicago trustees.

Today, the hot topic is a request for trustees to sign off on spending more than $100,000 to maintain the steel plates that are boarding up the old Kennedy-King campus that straddles Wentworth Avenue in Englewood.

That number – originally $207,000 for the next year -- perked up several board members at today's meeting, who wondered why the district was ready to write such a big check when demolition is set to begin by December.

The short answer: just in case, says Diane Minor, who is...more

CCC chancellor forums coming soon

Here's a followup to my earlier post. Jim Tyree, the chairman of the City Colleges' Board of Trustees, called me back yesterday afternoon and chatted about the process for picking a new chancellor.

Students and faculty  will soon have a chance to take part, he says.

“I promised everybody input, and we’ll talk about how that’s going to happen,” Tyree says. More details will come at Thursday’s board meeting, he added.

While he wouldn’t go into specifics, Tyree said there would be at least “a couple” of town hall-style meetings. The locations, dates and times haven’t been decided yet....more

MIA: Chancellor search committee

The agenda for this month’s City Colleges of Chicago board meeting is out. Most notable is what’s missing from it.

At the July meeting, when the board named Deidra Lewis as the district’s interim chcancellor for six months, Chairman Jim Tyree pledged that the district would work quickly to convene a search committee to pick a permanent replacement. That special committee would comprise the Board of Trustees and would meet with students, faculty, staff and anyone else who had thoughts on who should be the next chancellor, Tyree said.

Then, silence.

There has been no public mention of the committee....more

Higher Ed Roundup: Twitter and town halls

Twittertastic news

Your hapless higher ed reporter hasn’t quite mastered Twitter yet, but everyone else has. Eight Loyola freshman are tweeting their experiences in the first weeks of classes (desire to sleep in versus getting money’s worth out of tuition by showing up to class is a common refrain). Loyola was one of the first colleges in Chicago last year to deal with H1N1 and that has the school taking extra steps early. The university’s Wellness Center has a Twitter feed and a blog with regular updates. In unrelated Twitter news, former Daily...more

'Watchdog' = copycat

I had a very long moment of déjà vu when I saw the front page of yesterday’s Trib with a giant article (including giant photo) about a new West Side campus for Chicago State University.

Then I remembered that I wrote about that more than two months ago. And again six weeks ago.

Memo to the Trib: Splashing a two-month-old clip job on the front page under a “Tribune Watchdog” hammer is a less than compelling advertisement of your investigative chops.

Save for a hop and skip through meeting minutes from 18 months ago (kudos for finding those on CSU’s site, by...more

CSU student paper shuts down

Chicago State University's student newspaper, Tempo, has stopped publishing. Again.

Confused? Don't worry, there's been lots of turmoil at CSU ever since ... well, it feels like since forever.

The quick recap: Tempo was not published between 2003 and 2008, then started again briefly in late 2008 before stopping in January. It restarted in April and published a handful of editions before the end of the school year.

In February, Tempo’s former editor in chief, George Providence, and one of the paper’s former advisors sued two CSU administrators, saying that they had tried to censor the paper’s content.

Neither of the defendants...more

Video: Emil Jones is 'Moses of our time'

Here’s the video we told you about yesterday — the nine-minute salute to former state Sen. Emil Jones Jr.

WYCC has produced similar spots highlighting other local politicians and people in the higher education community. This one caught our eye because it was mentioned in the lawsuit former WYCC General Manager Maria Moore filed last month.

It also was listed as one of several spots that may have never aired, videos allegedly produced for politicians close to former Chancellor Wayne Watson, according to an internal e-mail about which the Daily News has previously reported.

We’ll let the...more

Roundup: Why so serious?

Obama Joker face via cattias.photos on Flickr
Photo by Flickr user cattias.photos

That creepy photo of Obama mashed up with Heath Ledger’s Joker? A UIC student did that. Firas Alkhateeb says he made the image last winter while bored at home. The Trib talked with him last week. He says he had nothing to do with the “Socialist” tag or the posters that appeared across Los Angeles this summer.

A growing number of universities, including DePaul, are finding ways to quantify the personalities of...more

Watson 'volunteering' at CSU over pension issue

Wayne Watson says he’s volunteering at Chicago State University for the next two months because state pension rules keep him from going to work so soon after leaving the City Colleges of Chicago.

“(I’m) going through a process of becoming oriented to the university, meeting with people, listening to them, learning, and sharing with them some of my insights,” Watson says.

And he says the two to three days a week he’s spending on campus have been “an extremely positive experience.”

He added that he’s not using the university house or car that will be provided as part of his...more

US News rankings take trip to Chicago

U.S. News and World Report’s annual undergraduate college and university rankings for 2010 just came out. Shocker, Harvard and Princeton top the list.

The University of Chicago tied for eighth with Columbia University in New York. Northwestern came in 12th, and UIUC tied for 39th with UW Madison (the schools are tied for ninth among public universities).

The national and liberal arts rankings are separate.

To mix things up a bit, this year the magazine took a “road trip” and wrote about four Chicago universities in 500 words or less. They scoped out the “geeks” at IIT,...more