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President to President

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

President Gives Fifth State of the Union Address

Jan. 27-31, 2014 ~ Vol. 15, No. 4

  • President Focuses on Job Training, Economic Growth in State of the Union
  • House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on College Access for Low-Income Students
  • House Judiciary Subcommittee Looks at Fair Use; ACE, Higher Ed Groups Submit Statement

President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night, and we were pleased to hear him continue his well-established focus on the transformative nature of education and its ability to improve the nation’s economy and people’s lives. Although he called for few new initiatives, he did flesh out proposals for several job training programs and emphasized the need to continue working to improve access to higher education.

On job training, the president announced that the White House will launch six new hubs for high-tech manufacturing similar to those recently started in Raleigh, NC, and Youngstown, Ohio, where businesses are connected to research universities.

He also has asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a reform effort for the country’s job training programs, which will likely have a strong community college component. The vice president and his wife Jill Biden, who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, appeared at Monroe Community College in New York Wednesday to speak about workforce development.

The president made brief mention in the speech of two of his administration’s ongoing efforts—improving college access for low-income students and “shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education.” But he did not discuss either effort in detail.

The traditional order of business is for the president to follow the State of the Union by releasing his budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It was announced last week that the White House will unveil a proposed FY 2015 budget on March 4.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee also discussed college access for low-income students Tuesday, with its Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training holding a hearing entitled “Keeping College Within Reach: Sharing Best Practices for Serving Low-Income and First Generation Students.” 

During the hearing, members learned about institutional efforts to better serve disadvantaged students, while also exploring opportunities to strengthen related federal programs and initiatives.

Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University in Chicago, explained how his institution’s TRIO Programs—Student Support Services and McNair Scholars—are improving the success of low-income students. Dr. James Anderson, chancellor of Fayetteville State University (NC), told the committee about a program his institution has implemented to use financial support services to help low-income students understand the costs of college. Also testifying were Mary Del Balzo, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer at the College of Westchester (NY), and Joss Alex Garrido, a graduate student at University of Texas-Pan American. 

To watch an archived webcast, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=367572​​.

In another hearing this week, The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet convened a panel on the doctrine of fair use, which sets out guidelines for unlicensed use of copyrighted material. Along with five of our colleague higher education associations, we submitted a statement to the committee, which you can read here​

Prior to hearing from the witnesses, ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) asserted his belief that the fair use doctrine was working as intended—that it was striking an important balance between the public interest in access and the flow of information and the important rights of creators and artists. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) largely echoed Conyers’ assessment of the state of fair use but noted the hearing was intended to determine whether more legislation was necessary to provide certainty to both users and creators as to what types of uses constitute fair use. 

Copyright experts testifying voiced varying opinions on fair use but generally agreed that Congress doesn't need to make major legislative alterations to the doctrine.

The issues surrounding fair use are important to higher education, and we have filed amicus briefs in two cases pending in the federal Courts of Appeals supporting ACE member institutions (see Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Digital Library and Cambridge University Press v. Becker​).

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE​ ​