Federal File: Panel packing?; Deja vu: Veto bait?

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Education Secretary Lamar Alexander has named five new members to an advisory panel on college accreditation just weeks before it is to make a recommendation on the use of diversity standards.

The five members, who replace panelists whose terms expired in September, have been characterized as conservatives who would be unlikely to support the diversity standard used by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Mr. Alexander has criticized the idea of requiring diversity in faculty makeup and student enrollment as an accreditation standard and held up recognition of Middle States pending the panel's review.

One new member, Francis S. Guess, a Nashville business executive, served in Mr. Alexander's cabinet when he was Governor of Tennessee; another new member, James H. Daughdrill, president of Rhodes College in Memphis, is an acquaintance of the Secretary.

At a meeting with reporters last week, Mr. Alexander said he knew the views of only one of the appointees on the diversity standards issue, and that he had never even met two of them.

"If I were going to stack the panel," he said, "I would have done a better job than that."

Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democratic candidate for President, last week sketched a proposal to reorganize the federal government that includes abolishing the Education Department, an idea that has not been raised since President Reagan's unsuccessful attempt.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Mr. Kerrey proposed reducing the number of Cabinet agencies to seven, as well as cutting 75 percent of all Congressional committees and 30 percent of Congressional staff.

A similar proposal to consolidate executive agencies, which would also retract education's Cabinet status, has been made by Representative Leon Panetta, the California Democrat who chairs the House Budget Committee.

Representative William D. Ford, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, also spoke at the press club last week, contending that he is not trying to fashion an expensive higher education bill that President Bush will be forced to veto just before the 1992 election, as some observers have speculated.

The President has threatened to veto a pending House bill because it would establish a Pell Grant entitlement and a direct-loan program.

"I'm going to negotiate all I can with them to see if there's any acceptable middle ground. Right now there is none," Mr. Ford said. --M.P. & J.M.

Vol. 11, Issue 11, Page 18

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