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ACE president’s weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders

CURRENT EDITION January 2-6, 2017 ~ Vol. 18, No. 1

​Good morning, and Happy New Year to you all. Before I get to this week’s news, I would like to tell those of you who have not yet heard about a personal decision I made over the holidays. On Tuesday, I notified the ACE Board of Directors and my staff that I will be stepping down as president of ACE on Oct. 31.

The past nine years have been a time of great change in higher education, and it has been a privilege to work with so many of you on the vital and complex issues facing our community. Together, we have worked to improve access to postsecondary education and to enable colleges and universities to anticipate and respond in innovative ways to an evolving higher education landscape. As I prepare during these coming months to depart ACE, I take deep satisfaction in knowing that the Council stands ready in its role as coordinating body for American higher education leaders as we work together on our collective goal: student success. I am confident that ACE is well prepared and positioned to meet the changing opportunities and challenges in higher education that are unfolding.

I look forward to seeing you all in March at ACE2017, our 99th Annual Meeting, to say my personal farewells. In the meantime, a national search will soon be underway for the next ACE president. I will let you know the details on the search as they become available.

  •  115th Congress Convenes, Trump Administration Continues to Take Shape

    New members of the House and Senate were sworn in this week as the 115th Congress convened for its first session and preparations continued for the transition to the Trump administration on Jan. 20. There is much uncertainty about what higher education will face in the coming months—as I wrote after the election, we have identified five areas to watch in the first 100 days, including repealing the Affordable Care Act and potential action on immigration, taxes, infrastructure, and the FY 2017 budget, each of which may touch campuses to a greater or lesser extent. Below are a few additional details about these and other issues we have learned over the past month:

    Affordable Care Act (ACA): The number one priority for congressional Republicans, plans are taking shape for how repealing the ACA—or Obamacare—will happen. The Senate voted 51-48 mostly along party lines Wednesday on a procedural motion to start debate on a budget resolution that Republicans will use as a vehicle for repeal. The budget resolution is the first in a two-part process to repeal the ACA. It instructs relevant congressional committees to craft a budget reconciliation bill, which will include language repealing major parts of the law. Republicans will use the reconciliation process because it cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

    Of course, the ACA and its associated regulations impact colleges and universities as any employer, with specific provisions that address the treatment of adjunct, part-time and student campus employees, as well as provisions governing health insurance plans offered by institutions to their students. President-elect Trump said during the campaign that he wants to replace the law with some combination of longstanding Republican proposals. But at present there are no details about a Republican replacement for Obamacare, nor is it clear exactly when the repeal will take effect. These are huge, complex issues and we will follow developments and report back as the debate moves forward.

    Senators Introduce Bill to Protect DACA Immigrants: As I mentioned in December, we remain very concerned about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA, established in 2012 by President Obama via executive action, permits approved young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to stay for two years at a time without fear of deportation and allows them to get a work permit. (Click here to download our issue brief on DACA to help frame your discussion about the future of the program and its impact on your campus.)

    There is some bipartisan support in Congress to protect these individuals. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are promoting the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, which would allow the roughly 750,000 young immigrants currently in DACA to keep those benefits for three more years. Three other senators have agreed to sponsor the bill: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Durbin and Graham are hoping to collect additional sponsors.

    Congressional Leadership and the HEA: After serving multiple terms as chair of the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on higher education, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has now assumed leadership of the full committee, while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will remain chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Both reportedly plan to turn their attention to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last done in 2008. Read more about Rep. Foxx’s plans in this post-election interview with Inside Higher Ed.

    Higher Education Tax Break Expires: The higher education tuition deduction was among the temporary tax benefits that expired at the end of 2016 because Congress failed to extend them, though it was the only higher education tax provision that lapsed. The tuition deduction allowed students and families to deduct the first $4,000 worth of college tuition and fees from their taxable income. At this point, it is uncertain how this deduction will be addressed during the expected tax reform effort to come later this year.

    DeVos Confirmation Hearing Next Week: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions announced this week that it will hold the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s nominee to become the next secretary of education, on Jan. 11. Following the hearing, an executive session will be scheduled for committee members to vote on the nomination. DeVos, who served as chair of the Michigan Republican party from 1996-2000, has a track record of promoting charter schools and school vouchers, and it is expected that she will bring a focus on those issues to the Education Department. Her potential priorities for the higher education sector are unclear at this point.

  •  IN BRIEF: ​ACE, Higher Education Groups Submit Brief to the NLRB on Resident Advisor Unionization; Apply Now for the ACE Institute for New Presidents

    ACE, Higher Education Groups Submit Brief to the NLRB on Resident Advisor Unionization: ACE and 12 other associations filed a brief Dec. 19 with Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the matter of The George Washington University and the Service Employees International Union Local 500, involving the issue of whether undergraduate resident advisors can be considered "employees," eligible to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. The case would build on the full Board's decision last August in the Columbia University case, which held that graduate and undergraduate research and teaching assistants are eligible to unionize under the Act.

    Apply Now for the ACE Institute for New Presidents: If you are a president or chancellor in your first three years of service, consider applying for the 2017 class of the ACE Institute for New Presidents, a program designed to ensure new presidents find long-term success in today's volatile and uncertain environment. The Institute will identify topics and issues of immediate concern to new presidents and provide the means to address them. It kicks off in Washington, DC on March 10, right before ACE2017. Only a few spaces remain so if you are interested, please click here to apply. If you have attended the Institute in the past, please encourage your peers to apply for this important program. Email with questions or for more information.

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