After a short but packed week that included passage of a three-month authorization for federal highway and transit programs, the House officially adjourned for August recess last Wednesday night. The Senate will soon follow in the House's footsteps after wrapping up final votes this week.
During the month-long recess, we're looking forward to having several Members of Congress and their staff visit the University of Illinois' campuses for tours, meetings, and events.
Senate Holds HEA Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault
The Senate education committee held a hearing last Wednesday that examined issues surrounding combating campus sexual assault within the context of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The hearing consisted of two panels: one composed of the sponsors of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA)—Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)—and another composed of representatives from the higher education community, including AAU's Associate Vice President for Federal Relations. During the hearing, the Senators and witnesses discussed major provisions within the bill, including confidential advisors, campus climate surveys, and memoranda of understanding (MOUs).
Bill Filed to Recognize Urbana Disabilities Pioneer
Two Illinois federal legislators—Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Rodney Davis—introduced a bill that would award a Congressional Gold Medal to Tim Nugent, the founder of Urbana's Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award bestowed upon civilians by the United States Congress. Among other noteworthy accessibility achievements, under Dr. Nugent's leadership, Urbana was the first post-secondary institution to introduce curb cuts as well as the first to establish a fixed-route bus system designed with wheelchair lifts.
Sen. Dick Durbin immediately joined in on supporting the bill. Click here to read the bill text, which outlines Dr. Nugent's major accomplishments and refers to him as the "Father of Accessibility" and the "Godfather of Rehabilitation Education." Sen. Kirk and Rep. Davis both issued press releases, in which Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise expressed her deep respect for Dr. Nugent:
“It is hard to think of any individual who has made a more positive impact on so much of the world that we all take for granted than Tim Nugent. He has spent his life and his career fighting to give a voice to those in society who so many others were willing to ignore. He didn't do it for personal gain or for public recognition. He did so because he believed it was the right thing to do. This is an honor for which he is long overdue.”
With the 2015 - 2016 academic year right around the corner, our federal intern, Ashley Smith, completed her summer internship with OGR. Throughout the course of the summer, Ashley assisted with social media, monitoring Congressional hearings, researching legislation, and attending briefings, among other things. She's been a great resource to our office, and we wish her all the best as she returns to Urbana to complete her senior year. Thank you, Ashley, for your excellent work!
Pictured left: Ashley (second from the left) with Illinois in Washington interns and UI President Tim Killeen during a Capitol Hill reception with the President's Executive Leadership Program.
Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations