KU chancellor’s video urges Congress to prevent sequestration, making it feel like last 6 weeks of 2012 again
Ah, November and December 2012 — it was a time that seems so long ago, back when "Gangnam Style" had only just become the most-viewed YouTube video of all time and made me feel as though popular culture had permanently passed me by, when we could not even conceive of a power outage at the Super Bowl, and when we were all talking about the "fiscal cliff."
If, like me, you've been feeling nostalgic for those heady days of two-ish months ago, here's something for you. Officials from universities around the country are once again warning about the potential damage of a pending federal budget sequestration, and KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is one of them.
Once again, federal research agencies are facing a mandatory budget cut if Congress does not do anything about it, this time by March 1. This one would be a cut of about 5 percent, which would apparently fall short of qualifying as a "fiscal cliff," as no one is calling it that anymore.
Gray-Little is among a number of university officials from around the country to record video messages to Congress asking members to "stop the sequester." This was done through ScienceWorksForU.S., an effort created by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities last year as the "fiscal cliff" approached.
All jokes aside, such cuts to research funding could have serious consequences for KU and other research universities. In her clip, Gray-Little talks about how federal dollars make it possible for KU to conduct research on subjects ranging from cancer to alternative fuels to history. Black and Veatch executive Jim Lewis chimes in to say that research universities like KU help to produce engineers for firms like his to hire.
Close your eyes and you can imagine we're back in that magical month-and-a-half or so at the end of 2012, when we first found out that Kate Middleton was pregnant and were all making jokes about the "Mayan" Apocalypse.
Send me your reminiscences of late 2012, or preferably your KU news tips, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job market for December grads generally not too different, but ‘fiscal cliff’ could throw in a wrench this year
They may not receive as much attention as those who graduate amid the pageantry and down-the-hill walking in May each year, but a number of KU students do graduate in December (Jeff Withey, the men's basketball team's fearsome shot-blocker, among them this year).
We won't know exactly how many students finished things up this semester until mid-January, and we'll let you know then.
But for now, I was curious: Are the job prospects likely any different for those students than they'd be if they graduated six months from now, or six months ago?
The answer, from University Career Center director David Gaston, is probably not.
"It's not a huge differentiator," Gaston said.
Some years, December grads might have an advantage because they beat the spring crowd in the race to fill open positions; but other years, employers wait until spring to hire, anyway.
One variable this year could make things interesting, though, Gaston theorized: the "fiscal cliff." It is possible, he said, that some employers could be holding off committing to any more ongoing costs, such as new employees, until they know more about what their tax situation will be in 2013 and beyond.
So, if you're now finished at KU and haven't yet found out what that next step will be, the negotiations going on in Washington might be of even more interest to you than for most.
Overall, Gaston says, the job outlook for college grads is better than it has been in recent years, though it's certainly not up to where it was before the economic downturn.
And by the way, if you just graduated, the Career Center can help you out until six months after you finished. Call 'em up at 785-864-3624. And feel free to let me know how your search has turned out: Send a note to email@example.com, along with all your KU news tips.
You'll no doubt be hearing plenty during the coming weeks about the impending "fiscal cliff" over which the country is in danger of hurdling. That's the term being thrown around for the mandatory federal spending cuts and tax increases that will spring into place in January if Congress can't reach a budget deal by then.
That conversation will likely extend to the world of higher education. In fact, it already has, because even though a fall from a "fiscal cliff" sounds like it might be slower and more boring than falls from other types of cliffs, it could be quite harmful for research universities.
Because of this, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little joined about 150 other presidents and chancellors from research universities around the country in signing a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders asking them to make sure to reach a sustainable deal in time to prevent those cuts, known as "sequestration." Also among the signers was Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.
The letter was re-sent today after it was originally sent in July. The leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, along with those 150 or so university leaders, wrote that the cuts would threaten all the federally funded research that happens at their institutions, as well as student aid that allows people to study at them.
The mandatory cuts would affect the federal agencies that fund so much of the research that takes place at KU and other universities, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It would also affect many federal financial aid programs, though Pell Grants would be protected.
The AAU and APLU also helped create a website, scienceworksforus.org, that tries to show how the "fiscal cliff" cuts would affect research around the country. The site says that it would reduce federal research funding to KU, K-State and Wichita State University by a combined $19 million annually (it does not divide that effect among the institutions).
Watch next month for a look at how the cuts would threaten research activities at KU. You can download the letter signed onto by Gray-Little right here, if you're interested.