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Higher Ed Members Push Ahead in Unpredictable Times

By John Rosales

March 26, 2010 — “Advancing Higher Education in Unpredictable Times” is the theme for NEA’s 28th Annual Higher Education Conference, kicking off today in San Jose, Calif.

More than 700 higher education members, national officers, and others are expected to attend the conference, being held jointly with the American Federation of Teachers.

Organizers report that the conference theme reflects the volatility and impact of state, national, and international economic and political developments in higher education institutions. Budget cuts, resulting in everything from layoffs and furloughs to enrollment caps and higher tuition costs, will be at the heart of many workshops, seminars, and speeches.  

Also likely to be the topic of much disussion: this week's huge win for college-bound students and the rest of the higher education community when the House and Senate passed legislation that will bring billions of dollars for students financial aid and community colleges.

The keynote speaker during tonight’s dinner is Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton University associate professor of politics and African-American studies, author, and broadcast commentator. Martha Kanter, Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, will also address conferees. Kanter oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid.

Pre-conference activities on Thursday included leadership day and the annual membership meeting of NEA’s National Council for Higher Education. 

Also Friday, the 2009 National Education Association Excellence in the Academy awards will be presented. These awards are for outstanding articles published in the 2009 issue of Thought & Action, NEA’s higher education journal. This year, the awards are presented in two categories.

The 2010 Democracy in Higher Education award, for writing an article that furthers the democratic tradition of the academy, will be presented to Kim Emery for her article, “Academic Freedom Requires Constant Vigilance.” Emery is an associate professor of English at the University of Florida.

The NEA Excellence in the Academy Art of Teaching Prize is presented to Dave Iasevoli for his article, “A World of White and Snowy Scents: Teaching Whiteness.” Iasevoli is director of the Master’s of Science in Education Program, SUNY’s Plattsburgh branch campus, Queensbury, N.Y.

The awards include a $2,500 honorarium, a plaque and an expense-paid trip to the conference.



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