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

President to President: Obama Unveils Proposals to Curb Gun Violence

Vol. 14, No. 2

  • President Obama Unveils Proposals to Curb Gun Violence
  • Debt Ceiling Dominates Discussion in Washington; SOTU Scheduled for Feb. 12
  • Countdown to ACE's Annual Meeting

President Obama on Wednesday announced a broad range of proposals to curb gun violence, which include a call for a renewal of federal research funding, model emergency plans for schools and higher education institutions, and more than 5,000 new mental health professionals to help young adults.

As part of the package, the president issued a memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies to research the causes and prevention of gun violence and requesting $10 million to support the research. The memorandum effectively reverses 17 years of what scientists say has been a virtual ban on basic federal research on this issue. The associated funding will have to be approved by Congress.

Another proposal asks the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to release by May 2013 a set of model emergency management plans for "schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education," along with best practices for developing these plans and training students and staff to follow them. The president also asked for $50 million to train social workers, counselors, psychologists and other mental health professionals to help students and other young people. Many of the remaining proposals also are designed for children and college-age youth, so we will be looking closely at those proposals in the coming weeks to see how they will aid and impact campuses.

President Obama's actions are a welcome start to action on gun violence, the painful effects of which tragically are seen all too often at our colleges and universities. I would like to thank the hundreds of you who have pressed for action (see letters here, here and here), not only on the issue of allowing guns on campus but on the full range of related concerns.

The House of Representatives held its first meeting of the 113th Congress this week and began staking ground for the battle over raising the debt ceiling, the first of three upcoming budget "cliffs" Congress and the administration must deal with in the coming weeks. The other cliffs are the across-the-board reduction in federal spending (also known as the sequester) and the spending bills for FY 2013 that must be approved by March 27.

There appear to be some divisions among Republicans on whether to use the debt ceiling to try to leverage spending cuts from the Obama administration. We expect to know more next week after House Republicans return from their annual start-of-the-session retreat in Williamsburg, VA, where the reported goal is settling on a unified strategy on the three cliffs.

For his part, President Obama has said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling because, as the United States is not "a deadbeat nation," Congress is obligated to pay the nation's bills. He is scheduled to give his 2013 State of the Union address on Feb. 12 and release his FY 2014 budget proposal sometime after that, so we will know relatively soon his priorities for the coming fiscal year.

The Senate will hold its inaugural meeting of this session on Jan. 22.

Among the topics slated for discussion during ACE's 95th Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 2-5 in Washington, DC, is the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Join us to hear Coursera co-founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller of Stanford University (CA), and EdX President Anant Agarwal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others. Please take a minute to watch this brief video clip on the benefits of gathering with your colleagues at this important event.

We now have a Facebook page that you can "like" to receive regular meeting updates. You also can follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation. Use the hashtag #LeadingChange13 to join the conversation. 

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE