[EDLING:1675] Delay in Awarding Federal Grants Leaves Language Centers in Limbo
Francis M Hult
fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jun 23 14:42:45 UTC 2006
> http://chronicle.com/daily/2006/06/2006062301n.htm Friday, June 23, 2006
> Delay in Awarding Federal Grants Leaves Language Centers on Campuses in
> By KELLY FIELD
> A week before the new fiscal year for many colleges begins, federally
> supported centers on dozens of campuses are still waiting to hear whether
> they will receive funds for the next four years. The delay in the awarding
> of millions of dollars in grants for programs that have been designated as
> National Resource Centers or Language Resource Centers under Title VI of
> the Higher Education Act has paralyzed the centers. They rely on the
> federal money to hire instructors, pay administrative staff, and train
> teachers in their surrounding communities. "We're all sitting around
> wondering what to do because we don't know what our budgets will be," said
> Gilbert W. Merkx, vice provost for international affairs at Duke
> University. "We're on hold."
> Every four years, the Education Department announces which institutions
> will be designated as National Resource Centers and Language Resource
> Centers, ensuring them federal funds for the next four years. Typically,
> it awards the grants in April or May, the directors of those centers say.
> Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs
> at the American Council on Education, described this year's delay as
> "unusual" for a department that "has made the trains run on time." He said
> he was "disappointed" that the department had not told colleges when the
> grants would be made.
> An Education Department spokeswoman blamed the delay on Hurricanes Katrina
> and Rita, which tied up the department through the fall and prompted it to
> push back grant-application deadlines for colleges in the affected areas.
> She noted that the department legally has until September 30 to make the
> grants, but said that the awards were awaiting final approval and would
> likely be announced in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Mr. Merkx, who
> oversees six Title VI centers at Duke and has applied for funds for two
> more, is waiting to hear whether he will be able to hire an outreach
> coordinator and a curriculum coordinator. His contracts with instructors
> in less commonly taught languages are in limbo, as are speaking
> engagements for fall conferences. "We're past the stage of worrying; we're
> at the stage of being really concerned," he said.
> In the 2006 fiscal year, the department awarded grants totaling
> $33.4-million to 134 centers. The bulk of the money -- $28.6-million --
> went to 120 National Resource Centers, which provide research and
> instruction in foreign languages and international studies, as well as
> outreach to secondary and elementary schools, to businesses, and to
> government and nongovernmental organizations. Individual grants typically
> range from $200,000 to $300,000 per year. Language Resource Centers
> conduct research, train teachers, and develop curricula and tests in less
> commonly taught languages. But more than just money is on the line for
> colleges -- visibility and status are at stake as well. Colleges that
> receive the Title VI designation as national centers are able to attract
> the top graduate students and faculty members to their campuses.
> "This is a mark that you're one of the best programs in the country," said
> Mark A. Tessler, vice provost for international affairs and a professor of
> political science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Many
> universities also use the designation to leverage money from their
> institutions, other federal agencies, and private foundations. William I.
> Brustein, director of the University Center for International Studies and
> a professor of sociology, political science and history at the University
> of Pittsburgh, estimated that for each $300,000 he receives in federal
> funds, he is able to secure an additional $900,000 to $1.2-million for his
> institution. "When you go out to a foundation, or a corporation, or when
> you apply for federal funding, they look at you in terms of track record,"
> he said. "Title VI is the closest thing we have in international
> education to U.S. News & World Report rankings of fields," he said.
> Copyright 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
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