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                                                                 May 16, 2020  



The Democrats' Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act passed 208-199. CQ calls it "symbolic and a messaging exercise." One Republican, Peter T. King of Long Island, N.Y. supported it. Among the measure's 14 Democratic opponents was engineer Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, considered a top GOP target in November. "I think it's something that should have had more broad bipartisan support," he said, according to CQ. It "needs to be more narrowly focused on the people who are suffering as a result of the pandemic." CQ sees a deepening partisan divide over reopening the economy. Democrats' slow public health-driven approach, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "is sustainable only with unprecedented, open-ended government spending," while "GOP lawmakers see the economic catastrophe as too big for the government to reverse, or even hold in check." Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sees an economic hit "without modern precedent” that could permanently damage the economy if Congress and the White House do not provide sufficient financial support, the New York Times reports.

NEXT STEPS: Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a leading GOP appropriator (above), says the HEROES Act "is going nowhere fast." But parts of it seem likely to survive. The White House Office of Management and Budget says only that "the administration cannot support" the measure "as currently drafted." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tells Fox News, “I think there is a high likelihood we’ll do another bill,” adding that it must include liability protections for businesses that reopen while the virus is still active, Lewis-Burke Associates reports: "Both Republicans and the White House oppose many of the spending proposals and insist that any negotiations on another pandemic response shouldn't occur until there has been more time to gauge the effectiveness of the four prior enacted packages."

$100 BILLION FOR EDUCATION: Of that amount, "$90 billion is allocated for grants to governors to distribute among K-12 schools and public colleges and universities," Lewis-Burke  reports. "The remaining $10 billion is for higher education stabilization. A major change to the final version of the bill . . . compared to the original proposal that was released earlier this week is related to student loan forgiveness.  In the original version, up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness was allowed for each borrower; however, the final version makes this only available to 'economically distressed borrowers.'”

BILLIONS MORE FOR NIH; $125 MILLION FOR NSF: A House fact sheet on the HEROES Act says it would give the National Institutes of Health $4.745 billion "to expand COVID-19-related research on the NIH campus and at academic institutions across the country and to support the shutdown and startup costs of biomedical research laboratories nationwide." The bill directs $3 billion to offset "costs related to reductions in lab productivity resulting from the coronavirus pandemic or public health measures related to the coronavirus pandemic," and $1 billion "to support additional scientific research or the programs and platforms that support research:" The National Science Foundation's sum would be "to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to fund research grants, of which $1,000,000 shall be for a study on the spread of COVID–19 related disinformation:" Lewis-Burke's overall assessment: "While the bill addresses some of the issues raised by the higher education and research community, it still falls short of relief requests submitted to congressional leadership." 

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FAVORED BENEFICIARIES? The U.S. Department of Education has all but depleted $350 million,set aside for struggling colleges in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted in late March. The New York Times reports that the money has gone to "bolster small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need." The Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, in Wisconsin, was allocated about $495,000, although the school says it did not claim the funds. "Bergin University of Canine Studies in California said its $472,850 allocation was a 'godsend.'” Republicans on the House Education and Labor Committee say appropriators' language gave Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "the flexibility to implement [the law] as she has done.” 

RULES ON DISTANCE LEARNING EXTENDED: Additional guidance from the Education Department extends previous flexibilities for distance learning and accreditation through December 31, 2020, Lewis-Burke reports. It also provides further details on implementation of CARES Act flexibilities related to Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) funds, as well as additional information on Return of Title IV determinations, Leave of Absence calculation, Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), and TEACH grants.  Additional guidance is still anticipated from ED that will offer further detail on student grant aid through the CARES Act. See the new guidance.

BETTER SEARCH ENGINES FOR COVID R&D: That's the aim of a joint effort by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. NIST will work initially with the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the National Library of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The team will apply the Text Retrieval Conference, or TREC, to the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), with more than 44,000 research articles and related data about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses. TREC-COVID seeks to help search engine developers optimize their systems for research and health-care communities. Learn more

TOPICS FOR NEW CYBERINFRASTRUCTURE CENTERS:  The National Science Foundation is looking for "early-stage concept definition studies and demonstration pilot projects" in these areas: Architecting and operating research CI ecosystems; CI learning and workforce development; Campus-centric networking and cyberinfrastructure; Software and data infrastructure practices and transition to production. Proposals related in any way to cybersecurity are discouraged because NSF already supports a center of excellence for that. Learn more.

VIRAL IMMUNITY: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) expects to publish a funding opportunity announcement on June 10 for Serological Sciences Centers of Excellence. The centers and related projects "will identify and advance research opportunities to characterize the immune responses elicited by SARS-CoV-2 viral infection, especially as it relates to cancer patients." Learn more.  Lewis-Burke reports that a NCI Request for Information seeks "input on the strategy for research in Coronavirus Serology Testing and Serological Sciences. NCI is seeking suggestions and input on any research topics relevant to research in coronavirus serology testing." Find out more.


Perceived danger of specific health and environmental issues: 1993–2018

Source(s): National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology (1993–2000); NORC at the University of Chicago, General Social Survey (2010–18). Science and Engineering Indicators Click here for an interactive version with more detail. 

Primary source respondents used to learn about current news events, science and technology, and specific scientific issues: 2001–18

Click here for an interactive version. Source(s): National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology (2001); University of Michigan, Survey of Consumer Attitudes (2004); NORC at the University of Chicago, General Social Survey (2006–18).

Science and Engineering Indicators


EUROPE ASSISTS RESEARCH DATA SHARING: the European Commission's COVID-19 Data Platform seeks to better support researchers in Europe and around the world in the fight against COVID-19. Researchers can "store and share datasets, such as DNA sequences, protein structures, data from preclinical research and clinical trials, and epidemiological data," according to Lewis-Burke Associates' International Policy Newsletter. 

WHAT CANADA AND THE UK ARE DOING: Lewis-Burke reports that Canada's plan "calls for nearly $9 billion to fund monthly stipends for students through August as well as service grants.  In addition, the government will expand employment programs to support up to 116,000 jobs and workforce development opportunities to help students hone skills and find employment during the summer. . . . A National Science and Engineering Research Council program aims to accelerate “the transfer and application of applied research and of expertise for local community organizations and partners from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors on COVID-19 related topics.”

Britain, meanwhile, is working to stabilize admissions "by placing controls on domestic and EU students for the academic year 2020-21, supporting students with increased flexibility on course choice and increased hardship funding,  mental health support for disadvantaged students, establishing a working group to update the government’s International Education Strategy, financial sustainability for universities, and increased coordination and funding in the research realm. Universities will be able to apply for government support programs that are estimated to be worth at least £700 million. The government is plans £100 million in Quality-Related Research Funding. Find out more.

PLANS FOR THE FALL: The Chronicle of Higher Education is keeping track of campuses that have announced their intentions. 

See the Chronicle of Higher Education update


SUMMIT ON PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT: "The National Academies’ Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education is inviting abstract submissions for presentations and posters on promising and innovative practices to address and prevent sexual harassment in higher education. Presentations and poster sessions will take place during the Public Summit on October 19-20, 2020 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Participation is open to faculty, students, researchers, practitioners, and other key stakeholders actively working on this topic. Please note that space is limited, and the deadline to submit a presentation or poster abstract is July 1, 2020." Also, the summit may be held virtually. Learn more


WEBINAR: Studying and Adapting to Real-time Impacts of COVID-19 on Engineering Education

May 19 at 1 PM, ET: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sudden and significant impact on almost all aspects of daily life for instructors and students in higher education. Tune in for a free webinar to learn how the University of Georgia is using a novel research method to capture engineering faculty, staff, and student experiences, provide real-time and actionable insights, and harness lessons learned. Sign up: https://bit.ly/2SEbvQ2

WEBINAR: Problem-based Megaprojects: Complex problem-solving competences and interdisciplinarity in higher education. This IFEES-GEDC-IUCEE global webinar by Anette Kolmos and Lykke Brogaard Berte of Aalborg University, Denmark was conducted May 6. Look for it in the IFEES Webinar library. http://www.ifees.net/webinars/


Registering for the June 22-26 conference will allow you to:

Have the opportunity to see any presentation made by an author, distinguished lectures, or plenaries 24/7 during the week of the conference;
Attend Q&A sessions, so you can interact with the presenters;
Attend workshops, business meetings, and the different orientations that usually happen at the annual meeting;
Attend/participate in the recognition and highlighting of our national award winners, and our incoming fellows, and our outgoing and incoming board members; and
Participate in our interactive exhibit hall as well as sponsor/tech demos. There will be exclusive exhibit hall times to interact with sponsors and exhibitors.

Check the website for updates.