All posts by Adam Harris


Top Federal Student-Aid Official Resigns Over Congressional Testimony

Updated (5/24/2017, 4:37 p.m.) with a copy of the resignation letter.

A top official at the U.S. Education Department resigned on Tuesday following a dispute over his scheduled testimony this week before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, according to a department official.

James W. Runcie, the chief operating officer of the department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, submitted his resignation on Tuesday night. Matthew Sessa, a deputy in the office, will assume Mr. Runc…


What Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget Would Mean for Higher Ed

Updated (5/23/2017, 2:19 p.m.) with details on the budget proposals for scientific and medical research.

The Trump administration on Tuesday released its budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. All told, the budget would cut federal education programs by more than $10 billion. The Department of Education’s total operating budget would be slashed by $9 billion, and spending on secondary-education programs would be redirected to school-choice initiatives — the chief policy goal of Betsy DeVo…


Education Dept. Says It Will Pick Single Loan Servicer

The U.S. Department of Education will award one contract to Navient, GreatNet, or the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to service student loans and to build a platform to do so, James Manning, the acting under secretary of education, told reporters on Friday. The move is part of the next phase of the department’s revamping of how it chooses an outside company to service the billions of dollars in federal student loans it issues.

In April, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, with…


Federal Lawmakers Begin New Push for Student-Outcomes Data

Updated (5/15/2017, 5:51 p.m.) with comment from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is starting a push to repeal the federal ban on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students, Politico reports. The prohibition was enacted as part of the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Four senators — Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah; Elizabeth A. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts; Bill Cassidy, Republican of L…


Texas Southern U. Cancels Commencement Speech Over Protest Concerns

Texas Southern University, a historically black college in Houston, has canceled a commencement address by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, after a petition demanded he be blocked from speaking and rumors of protests swirled. The petition cited several reasons some students found Mr. Cornyn to be an unacceptable speaker, including his support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, voter-identification laws, and a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, among other issues.

“Texas Southern…


Bethune-Cookman U. Says Only 20 Students Protested DeVos’s Speech

Bethune-Cookman University officials claimed on Thursday that only 20 students protested a commencement speech delivered by Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, according to a news release first reported by HBCU Digest. Witnesses who were there, including this reporter, saw more than half of the graduates stand and turn their backs in opposition as Ms. DeVos began her address on Wednesday.

“Secretary DeVos delivered the commencement address as 20 students expressed their freedom of protest duri…


Faculty Strike at U. of Illinois at Springfield Ends With Contract Agreement

After nearly a week, a faculty strike at the University of Illinois at Springfield has come to an end after a tentative contract agreement was reached with the the administration, the Chicago Tribune reports. Details of the contract have not yet been released.

UIS United Faculty, the faculty union, which represents roughly 160 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, announced the strike last Monday after failing to reach an agreement with the administration. With final exams looming, faculty …


Glue-Gun Incident at Colgate Prompts Concern About Racial Profiling

Colgate University on Tuesday asked its campus-safety director to take a leave of absence as it investigates an incident of alleged racial profiling, and the subsequent response to it, on the New York campus.

On Monday evening a student called the university’s campus-safety office to report that a “black male” with what appeared to be a gun had been seen, according to a university statement. An alert sent out to students said there was an emergency, and another erroneous message warned of an “ac…


With Final Exams Looming, Faculty Strikes at U. of Illinois at Springfield

Faculty members at the University of Illinois at Springfield began a strike on Tuesday after failing to reach agreement on a new contract with the administration, The State Journal-Register reports. A message posted Monday evening on the website of UIS United Faculty, the faculty union, by its executive board and negotiating team opened plainly: “Bad news. Strike is on.”

Both tenured and tenure-track faculty members took to the picket lines on Tuesday, during the last week of classes and just a …


DeVos Will Deliver Commencement Address at Bethune-Cookman U.

Updated (5/1/2017, 8:17 p.m.) with comment from Secretary DeVos.

Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, will be the keynote speaker during commencement exercises this month at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“Much like Dr. Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University, Secretary DeVos deems the importance of opportunity and hope for students to receive an exceptional education experience,” says a university news release announcing Ms. DeVos as the …