The election is days away, and DC is a ghost town. Elected officials are either back in their home districts fighting for survival or criss-crossing the country to help others.
A president's party almost always loses seats in the midterm election of his second term. This election will not be different. Ad buys demonstrate that Democrats are playing defense, even in very progressive districts.
Will Republicans take enough seats to win the Senate? How high will Speaker Boehner run up the score in the House? What will this mean for the issues UI cares about?
Watch this space. We'll have a full political readout next week.
ED Announces Latest 'Gainful Employment' Rule
The Department of Education (ED) published its long-anticipated final regulations on “gainful employment,” which set the standards for certain programs (mostly at for-profit institutions) to be eligible for federal student aid. During the negotiated rulemaking process, negotiators ultimately failed to reach a consensus, leaving ED to move forward on its own. The regulations will take effect on July 1, 2015. According to ED, roughly 1,400 gainful employment programs will not pass the accountability metric—affecting 840,000 students—with 99 percent of those students being in programs at for-profit institutions.
White House Rolls Out More Manufacturing Initiatives ...
President Obama announced $300 million in new manufacturing initiatives this week. While some of that funding is dedicated to previously announced institutes for advanced composites (DOE) and photonics (DOD), more announcements may also be on the way with agencies new to the National Network for Manufacturing Initiative, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
... While Digital Labs Digs In
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, UI LABS broke ground on its new Goose Island facility for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). Federal, state, and local officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony, including Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Reps. Mike Quigley, Bill Foster, Robin Kelly, and Dan Lipinski rounded out a strong House contingent.
“DMDII will enable Illinois to lead the nation in a 21st century manufacturing renaissance,” Senator Durbin (D-IL) said. “World-class partners from around the state and across the country—including General Electric, John Deere, Caterpillar and Boeing—will work to improve manufacturing efficiency to create new opportunities for businesses and workers."
“We are building the factory of the future – where business and academia will convene to tackle important manufacturing challenges,” said Caralynn Nowinski, former UI Associate VP for Economic Development and current Executive Director of UI LABS.
The University of Illinois was well represented. UI Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy, Trustee Pam Strobel, and UI Foundation Board Chair Roger Plummer attended the ceremony.
Photo: Office of Governor Quinn
President Easter Engages DC Agencies, Alums
UI President Robert Easter—buoyed by a healthy contingent of UI Foundation (UIF) and UI Alumni Association (UIAA) staff—descended on DC this week to engage policymakers, friends, and alumni.
Easter met with the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Jane Chu, to discuss the University's strong NEA initiatives and the possibilities of her visiting the campuses to celebrate projects funded by NEA. Each of our campuses have received arts funding. The UIC Free Art School opened last summer and offers free art classes, workshops, lectures, and participatory art projects to Chicago area youth and adults. Chairman Chu also applauded both downstate campuses for their strong collaboration with local communities that might otherwise lack strong performing arts and cultural opportunities. She accepted Dr. Easter's invitation to visit our campuses.
Dr. Easter also talked transportation with former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and relayed the university's support for the proposed USDA innovation institutes with Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
UIF and UIAA hosted a reception that drew a sizeable crowd of over 500 DC-area alumni to the Mayflower Hotel. UIF Interim President Ed Ewald welcomed the crowd and introduced President Easter, who shared an update on the exciting initiatives underway at our campuses.
Photo: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
USAID and Urbana's Soybean Innovation Lab Host Informational Workshop
The U.S. Agency for International Development and Urbana’s Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) sponsored a day-long workshop in DC centered around the needs of soybean practictioners to become successful developers of soybean. Urbana College of ACES Professor, Dr. Peter Goldsmith, the Principal Investigator for SIL, presented on the economics of tropical soybean for development.
Last fall, with Sen. Dick Durbin's support, Urbana received a $25 million Feed the Future Innovation Lab grant from USAID to establish SIL to assist Sub-Saharan Africa with building a strong soybean research foundation. UI President Robert Easter serves on the SIL Advisory Board.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas | OGR Federal Relations
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