The faculty athletics representative at the University of Richmond has circulated an e-mail to colleagues calling for the institution to leave Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and to stop playing intercollegiate football,The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. "I have come to the conclusion that it’s hard-to-impossible to consistently make DI-level sports conform and submit to the primary institutional focus on academics, because there’s just too much money and ambition involved," said the e-mail from Rick Mayes, an associate professor of political science. Noting concerns about the impact of concussions on football players, he asked whether it would not be better -- for the sake of athletes and to prevent future lawsuits -- to drop football. University administrators indicated that Richmond has no intention of taking the advice Mayes offered.
It has become trendy if not clichéd in recent years to declare that higher ed is the next "bubble" in the American economic system will pop. This view has been particularly dominant in business publications. Forbes has run columns about the coming higher ed bubble, or why a higher ed bubble should be coming, numerous times (see here and here and here and here and we could go on). Many of those articles predict that one or more "disruptions" in higher education (online learning for example) will be key to the higher ed bubble popping.
So we were surprised on Sunday to read in Forbesthat the bubble might not be traditional higher ed. A column that starts off by bemoaning the high cost of elite private higher education ends up noting that students go to college (and parents pay for them to do so) for a lot of reasons other than just the learning in the classroom. Students get connections and they value "the experience," writes a staffer for the magazine. The piece may not please all professors and college administrators because it suggests that students want a fun experience, not just the personal educational experience. But based on this conclusion, the author writes: "There’s no college-education ‘bubble’ forming simply because teens go to college with an eye on a fun four years, after which they hope the school they attend will open doors for a good job. Online education only offers learning that the markets don’t desire, and because it does, its presumed merits are greatly oversold. There’s your 'bubble.' "
Could this be the start of the bursting of the higher-ed-bubble-story bubble?
Conventional wisdom holds that -- on standardized tests -- when test-takers aren't certain, they should stick with their first choice of answer and not change it. Research being released today by the Educational Testing Service challenges that assumption. ETS studied 8,000 test-takers worldwide on the GRE, and found that of those who changed answers on the quantitative reasoning section, 72 percent saw scores increase, while of those who changed answers on the verbal reasoning section, 77 percent saw scores increase. At the same time, ETS surveyed test-takers and find that they still tend to believe they shouldn't change their answers, with 59 percent saying that they believed that their first answer was more likely to be correct than a changed answer.
Parker Executive Search, currently in the news because of its role in the controversial selection of a new athletic director at Rutgers University, has grown considerably in its influence, and also has been involved in a number of botched searches, The Indianapolis Star reported. The search firm has been involved in 12 executive searches for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, so many searches that one consultant is quoted in the article as saying the NCAA relationship "looks a little incestuous." The article cited examples of Parker-led searches for athletics positions in which the eventual selections had short-lived careers due to failure to win games, arrests for driving under the influence, and an arrest for domestic violence. The article also said that critics say the firm "pushes certain candidates regardless of their fit for a position." At the same time, the search firm has many fans and repeat customers.
The University of Maryland University College recently closed its Center for Intellectual Property, citing a universitywide budget gap of $35 million that caused dozens of other layoffs. The closure of the noted center cost four people their jobs, said university spokesman Bob Ludwig. "The decision to close the Center for Intellectual Property was basically based on a process we went through to refocus our priorities and meet our budget gap we were facing for the next fiscal year," he said. "So, through that process, it was determined that the Center for Intellectual Property was not central to UMUC's core mission." The center -- whose work was followed by experts elsewhere -- worked on "education, research and resource development on the impact of intellectual property issues in higher education," according to its website.
Rutgers University officials knew its new athletic director Julie Hermann was involved in two lawsuits that -- coupled with recently unearthed verbal abuse allegations by Hermann’s former athletes – called the university’s vetting process into question. In 1997, a jury awarded damages to a former University of Tennessee assistant coach who claimed in a lawsuit against the university that Herman fired her because she was pregnant, and in 2008, a University of Louisville assistant coach targeted Hermann in a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Search committee co-chair Richard Edwards said in an email to the group’s 27 other members that Rutgers officials knew about the lawsuits, and also clarified other details to search committee members who said they were left in the dark during the process. Once Hermann reached the finalist stage for the Rutgers position, the search firm conducted a background check, which failed to discover the 16-year-old allegations by athletes who played volleyball for Hermann at Tennessee.
Also on Wednesday, Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi – who has also been criticized over the hire and its preceding abuse scandal, which led to the previous athletic director's ouster – reiterated his support for Hermann. “I am confident that Julie and her team will set the stage for a great transition,” Barchi said.
The Connecticut General Assembly has given final approval to a plan to two major spending initiatives for the University of Connecticut. One part would provide $1.5 billion for construction of facilities, including laboratories, equipment and housing. A second part would provide $137 million to hire additional faculty members so that enrollment can be increased in science and technology fields.
The president of St. Mary's College of Maryland is leaving amid a major enrollment and budget shortfall after just three years in office, the institution announced Tuesday. Joseph F. Urgo said in the release that he had asked the public liberal arts college's board not to renew his contract, for "personal and professional reasons." The change comes in the wake of news that the college had fallen significantly short of its enrollment target for next fall, necessitating a budget cut of as much as $3.5 million.