The Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy hosted a global forum last week in Strasbourg, France to discuss issues surrounding academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and the future of democracy. ACE Senior Vice President Philip Rogers, who serves as ACE’s representative on the committee, and ACE Board member Jonathan Alger, president of James Madison University, both made presentations to the group, which included nearly 150 presidents and other higher education leaders from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Click here to read the final declaration of academic freedom the forum adopted.
In late May, a fix for the kiddie tax scholarship issue was incorporated into an unrelated retirement bill, the SECURE Act, which passed the House 417-3. There was a possibility that the Senate would pass the SECURE Act before the Memorial Day recess, but several senators objected. Since then, momentum for passage of the SECURE Act in the Senate has slowed, with reports that Majority Leader McConnell has been reluctant to devote floor time to the bill. In an effort to give another push on the kiddie tax scholarship fix, hopefully before the July 4 recess, we sent this letter June 21 to the full Senate urging them to act.
The issue of student loan debt is in the news, but a poll released Tuesday found that it is not the topic that Democratic primary voters most wanted to hear about from Democratic presidential candidates during this week’s debates in Miami. A new Morning Consult survey found that 63 percent of Democratic voters said it is “very important” for the candidates to discuss climate change, with gun policy, abortion, Medicare-for-all, and immigration rounding out the top five. Still, 41 percent of those polled said it was very important for candidates to discuss student loan debt, coming in above trade sanctions and relations with North Korea, but below infrastructure, criminal justice reform, and President Trump.
The Department of Education last week released a revised Accreditation Handbook for use by accrediting agencies seeking recognition. Compared to the previous 88-page document issued in 2012, the department says that the new, streamlined 28-page handbook provides clearer, more concise requirements for accrediting agencies so they know what kind of and how much evidence they should submit to meet recognition requirements.
Finally this week, I would like to share a rare and well-deserved honor bestowed on my ACE colleague Terry Hartle, who works tirelessly to advocate on federal public policy matters on behalf of American higher education and enable our community to speak with a collective voice on key issues. Terry was awarded honorary membership status by the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) last weekend during its annual conference in Denver. That is not something NACUA does lightly or often: according to its records, Terry is only the sixth person to be made an honorary member in the organization’s history, and the first since 2008. Kudos to Terry, and thank you to NACUA for this gracious tribute and for the important ongoing collaboration between our organizations and the vital role that NACUA and campus general counsels play in advancing the interests of colleges and universities.