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ACE president’s weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders

CURRENT EDITION March 4-8, 2019 ~ Vol. 20, No. 8

We are only a day away from seeing many of you in Philadelphia for ACE2019, ACE's 101st Annual Meeting, which begins Saturday and concludes 11:30 am Tuesday. For those of you attending, please download our meeting app to keep up with sessions and activities from your phone or tablet—just search your app store for “ACE2019” and enter the password from your invitation email. Don’t have the password? Contact us or see an ACE team member at the registration desk. A complete session schedule can also be found at If you are unable to attend, we will be posting regular updates on our Higher Education Today blog throughout the meeting and on Twitter (@ACEducation). In addition, the Monday Breakfast Plenary session featuring a discussion on the role of race in America and on college campuses will be livestreamed​, thanks to the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.​

  •  House Poised to Take Action on Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients

    ​The House is gearing up to take action on a legislative solution for the Dreamers—undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children—and the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has been in limbo since President Trump attempted to rescind it.

    As a quick refresher, in September 2017, President Trump announced he was ending DACA, which has shielded from deportation more than 700,000 Dreamers. Federal courts blocked that move and the Supreme Court has not yet taken up the case, meaning DACA remains intact to an extent, allowing for renewals but not new registrations.

    When the president revoked DACA, he called on lawmakers to pass legislation to protect Dreamers. It is clear that in Congress, and across the nation, there is widespread and bipartisan support for doing just that. Legislators briefly discussed including permanent protections for Dreamers during negotiations to end the government shutdown earlier this year, but the talks went nowhere.

    The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday from immigrants protected under both the DACA policy and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, along with advocates working on their behalf and others who deal with immigration issues. (The Trump administration also has attempted to phase out the TPS program, which has allowed more than 300,000 individuals from countries affected by war and natural disasters to legally live and work in the United States.) House Democrats are planning to introduce the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 next week, which will be the starting point for new negotiations.

    In their opening statements at Wednesday’s hearing, Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) laid out the positions of their respective parties, familiar by now after months of back-and-forth over the Trump administration’s immigration proposals. Collins and other Republican committee members expressed tentative support for some protections for Dreamers, but only in exchange for funding for the president’s border wall and other efforts to impose strict control over immigration. Democrats have made clear they will not approve such an exchange. Read a more detailed account of the hearing here.

    I issued a statement in advance of the hearing, supporting the House efforts and letting Congress know we stand ready to help in any way we can. For more on DACA and the effort to provide a legislative solution for Dreamers, see the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition web page.

  •  Trump Says Executive Order on Campus Free Speech in the Works

    ​As you no doubt heard over the weekend, President Trump said he will soon issue an executive order that would deny federal research funds to colleges and universities that do not support free speech. He made the announcement during a speech Saturday at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference, but was short on details about how the executive order would work or who would decide whether an institution was not protecting free speech.

    As ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle told Inside Higher Ed Saturday, because free speech and academic freedom are core values of research universities, the proposed executive order is “a solution in search of a problem.” As we all know from recent experience, while controversies do arise on campus, the norm is for institutions to err on the side of promoting free speech. It is impossible to understand, at least at this point, how exactly such an order would be enforced.

    Inside Higher Ed subsequently reported that the White House may be planning to release the free speech order next week, along with other executive actions on program-level outcomes data and student loan risk sharing, in conjunction with its annual budget request. We will, of course, be watching closely and have more information for you when we see the details.

  •  House Hearings Look at Federal Loan Servicer Oversight, Maintaining Leadership in Science and Technology

    ​In two other hearings this week, House members took a close look at a report released last month on the Office of Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) oversight of federal student loan servicers, and how best to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology.

    Problems with student loan servicers: The House appropriations subcommittee overseeing education held a hearing Wednesday to learn more about the report on loan servicing and to hear from higher education experts on how to help borrowers struggling with debt. The report, compiled by the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), found that between January 2015 and September 2017, service representatives were not accurately informing borrowers of all their available repayment options or submitting full reports of phone calls with borrowers, as required. OIG made six recommendations to help remedy the problems, including that FSA track all instances of noncompliance by loan servicers, share results of FSA-performed oversight activities, and create a better monitoring system.

    Leadership in science and technology: In another hearing Wednesday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee looked at opportunities and challenges for U.S. scientific research, as well as increasing international competition and what that means for our economic and national security. Witnesses discussed the need for a skilled workforce and how the government, universities, and private sector can best partner to help maintain U.S. leadership in science. In her opening remarks, Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) discussed the importance of increasing the number of women and minorities earning STEM degrees.

  •  IN BRIEF: LIFT for Charities ACT; New ACE Members

    ​Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) last week reintroduced legislation to protect nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities, from a section in the recently enacted tax law that would tax employee benefits for the first time. The Lessening Impediments from Taxes (LIFT) for Charities Act would repeal a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that requires some tax-exempt organizations to pay federal taxes on benefits like parking, meals, or transportation. ACE opposed this provision during the tax reform debate in 2017 and have urged lawmakers to repeal it. In December 2018, then-Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) included a repeal of the provision in his last package of tax bills as the committee’s chairman, one year after enacting it as part of the TCJA. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) plans to introduce the House companion legislation this week.

    Finally this week, I would like to welcome the following new members to ACE: Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (WA) and President Michael Lawler; Miles Community College (MT) and President Stacy Klippenstein; and Tillamook Bay Community College​ (OR) and President Ross Tomlin. I hope to meet you—and many more of our member presidents—in Philadelphia for ACE2019.

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