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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President to President: ACE Testifies on Insuring Adjunct Faculty, Student Workers

Vol. 14, No. 13

  • ACE Testifies on Insuring Adjunct Faculty, Student Workers Under ACA
  • America COMPETES Act Up for Reauthorization
  • Supreme Court Hears University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar
  • ACE Commission on Internationalization and Global Engagement Open for Nominations

It was a light week in Washington for higher education, and I have just a few issues to discuss with you this morning.

First of all, Steven Bloom, director of federal relations at ACE, testified at an April 23 hearing of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department about proposed regulations which would affect coverage for adjunct faculty and student campus employees under President Obama's health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The IRS and Treasury released proposed rules in early January regarding when and to whom employers would be required to offer health insurance coverage. In determining whether colleges and universities are required to offer coverage to adjuncts, the proposed regulations advised institutions to use "a reasonable method for crediting hours of service," which should take into account work performed in and out of the classroom.

Steven's remarks summarized written comments ACE submitted in March in response to the draft regulations. While we are generally supportive of the rules, our comments proposed several safe harbors for adjunct faculty and students who work on campus, in order to more accurately account for their employment status.

For more details on the hearing, see The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A group of academic, business and scientific organizations, including ACE, have sent key members of Congress a set of principles for guiding the upcoming reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, which expires at the end of 2013.

First signed into law in 2007, the America COMPETES Act was a response to the National Academies' Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The report highlighted the importance of the U.S. science and technology enterprise to economic development and global competitiveness, and focused on research and other activities at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy's Office of Science. I would like to encourage your institution to sign on to the principles—the list of endorsing organizations will be updated on a continuing basis.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT) v. Nassar, a case that is expected to decide what an employee must prove in order to prevail on a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that his employer retaliated against him.

ACE submitted an amicus brief in support of UT last month. The case was brought by a medical professor and physician charging racial harassment and retaliation. A trial court jury found in his favor on both issues, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the racial harassment verdict and affirmed the retaliation charge. At issue is whether he must prove his harassment complaint was the sole motive for the medical school's denial of his transfer request, or simply prove it was one of multiple reasons.

During Wednesday's Supreme Court arguments the justices seemed to be split over whether to uphold the appeals court. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Finally, please note that May 14 is the deadline to nominate interested presidents, chancellors, chief academic officers and senior international officers for appointments to ACE's Commission on Internationalization and Global Engagement, which advises ACE on its initiatives in comprehensive internationalization and global priorities.

Commission members are selected based on many factors, including ACE's desire to represent the full range of our membership, involve senior leaders who have not previously participated in ACE activities and appoint members with specialized knowledge or interests. Terms are two to three years. Click here to download the form to nominate either a colleague or yourself.

Nominations can be submitted to Lindsay Addington via email at laddington@acenet.edu.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE