Because of increased competition for students, decreased household income and skepticism about value, a third of institutions predict tuition revenue won't keep pace with inflation, Moody's survey finds.
A rift is growing between government and higher education, with debates over funding, missions and accountability.
In that context, it is all the more worth watching Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who assumes the presidency of Purdue University on January 14. Other governors have become college presidents. Some, like Tom Kean, have been very successful. However, Daniels — who brings to the job an unusual blend of leadership experiences in government at the state and national level, public policy, business, and now academe — is coming to office at a time of unusual tension.
Governors increasingly characterize the rising costs of higher education and its limited access as unsustainable. Many find it imperative that universities increase their productivity, affordability, access, graduation rates, and accountability. In contrast, university presidents say that quality, not cost, is the real issue in an era in which excellence in higher education is more urgent than ever before in history. The question, academic leaders say, should not be the price of college, but who pays, criticizing government for disinvesting in higher education. Bottom line: Between the governors and the presidents, there is increasingly little if any common ground other than recognizing the importance of higher education. They have entirely different views of the problem, no agreement on responsibility, and nothing in the way of a shared solution.
In his first public action as president of Purdue, Daniels has bridged the chasm with a salary package that incorporates the goals of both the governors and the presidents. He did this in two ways. The first was conciliatory, eliminating the red flag that sets off both government and the academy: He rejected presidential salary inflation. His salary package is smaller than his predecessor’s, placing him tenth among the 12 Big Ten university presidents in terms of salary. There is no deferred compensation.
Second, and more importantly in terms of national models, is that Governor Daniels asked for a salary based upon achieving his goals for the university. The package is divided into two buckets — base salary and bonus. The bonus is tied to graduation rates, affordability, student achievement, philanthropic support, faculty excellence, and strategic program initiatives. In establishing this bonus system, Daniels married traditional notions of academic quality — as measured by excellence in faculty, programs and resources — with an equal emphasis on effective outcomes and price controls: graduation rates, affordability, and student achievement.
In so doing, Daniels has demonstrated his belief that there is common ground to be found between the university and government. The choice is not quality or effectiveness, not excellence or affordability; the future of higher education is not a zero-sum game in which one side wins and the other loses. Rather, he believes it is possible to balance the seemingly conflicting goals of government and higher education.
Daniels is not the first president to have his salary tied to achieving institutional goals, but he is probably the most visible. Moreover, although Daniels is renouncing involvement in partisan politics as he enters the Purdue presidency, he is a former Republican governor and party leader known as a frugal fiscal conservative. Historically, the divisions have been greater between Republicans and the academy than has been the case with Democrats. In a very real sense, what Daniels has chosen to do is somewhat akin to Nixon going to China. He has undertaken an experiment to be closely watched. If successful, he will have established a potential model for the country.
Typically, presidents reserve such powerful statements for their inaugural addresses. Though such addresses are sincere in intent — I can vouch for that, as someone who has given two and listened to many more — they are generally aspirational; they articulate hopes and dreams for what an institution can become. Daniels has already done something very different. He is putting himself on the line in a very public fashion. Year after year his salary will be determined by his success. And perhaps even more importantly, his success or failure will be public when his board announces the size and rationale for his bonus.
It’s a bold step — and Governor Daniels should be applauded for taking it.
Arthur Levine is president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. For the past six years Woodrow Wilson has had a teaching fellowship in Indiana, which has given Levine a chance to work with Purdue and to observe Governor Daniels at work.
Florida A&M University has blocked the university's student newspaper, The Famuan, from publishing until the staff goes through additional training, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. Further, the university has removed the advisor of the student newspaper. The Student Press Law Center also reported that staff members are being told that they must reapply for their positions. The moves follow a libel lawsuit against the newspaper.
Albany State University has returned a portion of the $3 million it received from the Ray Charles Foundation to construct a fine arts building to be named for the singer, The Albany Herald reported. The university has used some of the funds for scholarships, but the foundation has been seeking the money back since the fine arts center was not built.
In stark contrast to most public institutions, North Dakota colleges will likely see a sizeable increase in state appropriations, a decision education leaders attribute to a favorable economic climate and efforts to build the trust of conservative lawmakers.
Florida Governor Rick Scott and the University of Florida Board of Trustees have asked the university's president, Bernie Machen, to stay in his role, scrapping a search that began when Machen announced plans to retire this summer. Machen, who has been in the role since 2004 and is 68, said he will stay on and will enter into talks with the board to extend his contract.
"As we prepared for our final round of interviews with outstanding candidates, it became increasingly clear that defining a new vision for higher education in Florida will be front and center in the months ahead, and that we have the opportunity to do this important work with the governor and the Board of Governors,” said the board chairman, David Brown. “With this opportunity, we recognized the need to take full advantage of our very capable president and felt this is not the time for a lengthy transition of leadership."
For the first time in six years, state support for higher education did not top the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' annual list of top 10 higher education state policy issues. This year the top spot went to "Boosting Institutional Performance," which includes efforts to increase graduation rates, performance-funding policies, and alignment with state goals.
The shift, while subjective, is a reflection of both the increased emphasis on tying funding to outcomes and the understanding among higher education officials that state funding is not likely to return to pre-recession levels. "The adjustment in rankings is based on the broadening acceptance that state reinvestment in public higher education will be slow in coming -- and institutions must readjust both their operations and revenue mix accordingly," the report states.
Gallaudet University has reinstated Angela McCaskill, the institution's chief diversity officer, who was suspended for signing a petition against the recognition of gay marriage by Maryland, the Associated Press reported. The university announced the reinstatement, but did not elaborate or respond to requests for comment. Some advocates for gay rights applauded the suspension, saying that universities cannot promote equity for gay students and employees while having their diversity efforts led by people who believe that gay people should be denied rights available to straight people. But critics said that the university was inappropriately punishing McCaskill for expressing political views.
When Humboldt State University announced the creation of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (to focus on marijuana policy analysis), Jimmy Kimmel couldn't resist making fun of the university (see video below). He predicted that the university's pot expertise would soon make it "harder to get into than Yale," and even produced a satirical ad for Humboldt State.
Now the university has invited Kimmel to be its graduation speaker. A joint letter by Rollin C. Richmond, Humboldt State's president, and Ellyn Henderson, its student government president, has invited Kimmel to be the graduation speaker. The letter notes the university's recent scholarly accomplishments (having nothing to do with pot) and its beautiful northern California location -- while also applying some guilt. "[W]e figure you owe us," they wrote. "Humboldt State provided you with just over three minutes of pretty good material, which must be worth quite a bit for a nationally televised program (though we are surprised you were unable to stretch the bit to 4 minutes 20 seconds)." Further, while stressing that they enjoyed the humor, the presidents wrote that "we also felt you shortchanged Humboldt State University, portraying all of our students as pot-obsessed slackers."