Ups and downs in higher ed

Although classes were not held and school was closed for a good portion of the winter break, the workings of higher education still continued.

New members were appointed to the Oregon higher education board, a new tax surcharge could provide funds for universities, and international students may find themselves under extra scrutiny to study in the United States.

Back in November, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski requested the resignations of several members of the State Board of Higher Education, seeking a fresh start for the group, which oversees the Oregon University System. On Dec. 31, the Governor appointed seven new members to the board.

The appointments, including former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt as board chair, are subject to confirmation by the state senate and fill the slots left by departing members, as well as two previously vacant seats. Only one former member, Geri Richmond, was reappointed.

Many of the new members come from business backgrounds and are: Donald W. Blair, Kirby Dyess, John E. von Schlegell, Tim Nesbitt, Gretchen S. Schuette, Howard F. Sohn and Goldschmidt.

In other higher ed news, the Oregon legislature has proposed an $800 million income tax surcharge, to be voted on Feb. 3, which would help out members of the Oregon University System, including Portland State.

According to recent polls, however, the surcharge, part of Measure 30, will likely be defeating, costing state universities approximately $14.3 million in tax support, according to reports in The Oregonian. OUS representatives have stated that this might mean additional increases to summer tuition rates.

Also, a bill currently being debated in U.S. Congress proposes creating an advisory board to monitor international studies programs at universities, with the intention of meeting national security needs.

The bill is expected to be addressed sometime in January.