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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 to President, January 24-28, 2011

Vol. 12, No. 4

  • President Focuses on Innovation, Education in State of the Union Address
  • ACE to Host Webinar Feb. 23 on New GI Bill Changes
  • Patent Bill Reintroduced in Senate
  • IN BRIEF: NACUBO Releases Endowment Numbers; New IRS Publication on Higher Education Tax Benefits; Still Time to Register for ACE's Annual Meeting

This week kicked off with President Obama's second State of the Union address, and I was pleased to hear repeated the education-related themes that have become the cornerstone of his administration: the importance of a highly educated citizenry and investment in research and innovation as keys to economic security and prosperity in the 21st century global economy.

The president proposed a five-year freeze in discretionary spending on nondefense programs but would exempt education and research, saying "cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine." He also pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks. However, the only specific policy recommendation he made regarding higher education was to urge Congress to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). Recently the beneficiary of a two-year extension, the AOTC—originally included in the 2009 economic stimulus bill—provides $10,000 in tax relief for each child for four years of college.

Without explicitly mentioning the DREAM Act by name, the president proposed beginning debate on immigration reform to deal with the problem of undocumented students and foreign college graduates, saying we need to "stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses and enrich this nation." He also called on universities to open the doors to military recruiters and the ROTC in the wake of the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The White House is expected to release its budget for FY 2012 during the week of Feb. 14, which is when we should see precisely what the administration has in mind for the coming fiscal year. Before Tuesday's address, the House of Representatives voted 256-165 to pass a resolution pledging to roll back domestic appropriations to 2008 levels or lower, setting the stage for what we expect will be a protracted fight. Also during the week of Feb. 14, the House is scheduled to take up the final stop-gap spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of FY 2011 on Sept. 30. (The government has been operating under a series of short-term spending measures—or continuing resolutions—geared to a freeze on 2010 spending.)

ACE will host a webinar Feb. 23 to discuss recently approved legislation that makes major changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and how these changes will affect your campus.

President Obama on Jan. 4 signed into law the Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, which makes changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. While we are pleased the new law contains some of the modifications we and veterans' service organizations were interested in accomplishing, we still believe it falls short in a couple of noteworthy respects. We will be talking about both the good and the bad during the webinar, which will feature Keith Wilson, director of education service for the Department of Veterans Affairs; Judith Flink, executive director of University Student Financial Services for the University of Illinois; and David Smedley, associate director of compliance and training for The George Washington University's Office of Student Financial Assistance. ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle will serve as moderator.

I hope you will make plans to join us or pass this information along to the appropriate members of your leadership team. The event is scheduled for Feb. 23 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST. The ACE member price is $149; the non-ACE member price is $199. See the ACE website for full details and to register.

A new patent reform bill was among the first pieces of legislation introduced in the Senate this term: Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Wednesday unveiled The Patent Reform Act of 2011 (S. 23), reigniting a debate that has been ongoing since 2005.

S. 23 builds upon the Senate legislation from the 111th Congress, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Feb. 3. At least seven members of the Judiciary Committee from both parties have signed onto the legislation. However, conservative activists and some in the business sector, including the U.S. Business and Industry Council, reportedly are gearing up to oppose the bill, which they are calling an attack on the American patent, a right outlined in the Constitution.

We once again will be following the measure as it winds its way through the process and will keep you updated on all developments.

IN BRIEF

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) on Wednesday released its annual NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. Good news this year: Although endowments at the 850 institutions included in the study are not back to their prerecession levels, the value of university endowments increased an average of 11.9 percent for FY 2010. A news release and tables from the study currently are available for free on the NACUBO website. The full report will be available for purchase in February.

The IRS has released a new publication that discusses the various tax benefits related to higher education costs. Tax Benefits for Higher Education can be downloaded at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf.

I am looking forward to seeing you all next month at ACE's 93rd Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 5-8 in Washington. A day of exclusive programs has been designed especially for presidents and chancellors, beginning with a special reception on Saturday, March 5. Visit the website to view the full schedule of programming and to register.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE