Facebook continues to be the most popular social media platform used by colleges to maintain relations with current and potential donors, according to a new survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Also highly popular are Twitter and LinkedIn. But the survey found that some forms of social media -- such as blogs and Flickr -- are seeing decreased use by colleges. A report on the survey suggests that colleges are trying to become more strategic about how they use social media, and may be more hesitant to be trying everything at the same time.
Last week, faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences rejected a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that the compromise is widely viewed as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, the Faculty Council (an elected faculty body representing all of the university's units) issued a statement of support for Wagner. "We acknowledge the hurt to our community caused by President James Wagner’s use of the three-fifths compromise clause in his column in the Winter, 2013, issue of the Emory Magazine. He has sincerely apologized for this mistake in multiple venues, and he has held many listening sessions to hear concerns from the community. We as the University Faculty Council accept his apology. While his words were insensitive, they were not malicious in intent, and discussion of them has revealed failures throughout our community to live up to the diverse and inclusive ideal to which we aspire," said the statement.
It went on to describe Wagner's use of the three-fifths example as "particularly unfortunate because it detracts from many endeavors Emory University has initiated under his leadership. Emory has apologized for the role of slavery in building the institution, hosted the 'Slavery and the University' conference, which drew attendees from across the U.S., and created the Transforming Community Project in which people from across the university engaged with our history and current experiences of race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of human difference."
The Faculty Council's statement concluded: "We state our firm support for his continued leadership in the years ahead to continue the work yet to be done."
Officials of the Los Angeles Community College District are calling it a "rebalancing" plan, but student leaders and others aren't going along. The Los Angeles Times reported that the plan involves cutting the $1,500 monthly car allowance top administrators receive to $500, and then using the extra $1,000 a month to give raises to those administrators. The plan is based on the idea that the administrators are underpaid, compared to others in California. But student leaders and their backers say that the district shouldn't be paying top officials to drive to and from work, and that any savings should go to restoring some of the class sections that have been cut in recent years.
Terry Brown, interim senior special assistant for academic and student affairs in the University of Wisconsin System, has been selected as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences have rejected, by a vote of 201 to 133, a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. The arts and sciences professors make up about 20 percent of the university faculty -- and are the only group to hold a vote of no confidence. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that many people view the compromise as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.
After the vote, the university released a statement from the Board of Trustees saying that "The Emory University Board of Trustees extends its strong and undivided support to President James W. Wagner."
A statement from Wagner said: “I respect the views of all of our faculty and their right to express concern about the leadership and direction of our institution, and I take to heart the significance of this vote. Faculty governance and faculty responsibility for the future of Emory University are essential. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the administration and with the faculty to carry out the mission of this great institution. I have listened closely to constituents from across the university, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned and to working with all members of our community to move Emory forward. Together we have accomplished much, and in partnership with all of our community members, Emory will do much more.”
Matthew Goldstein sent a letter to students and faculty members of the City University of New York system Friday afternoon announcing his plans to retire this summer. Goldstein has been chancellor since 1999, and in his years leading the university system, it has undergone major changes. Under Goldstein, new admissions standards for four-year institutions resulted in many of them attracting more top students, while CUNY's community colleges emerged as leading centers of reform in two-year college education. A new community college was launched this year, and it makes full use of many of the reform ideas circulating in the discussions of two-year colleges. CUNY also launched a number of new divisions in addition to the new community college. Among them are the William E. Macaulay Honors College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY School of Public Health.
Goldstein also was chancellor when CUNY officials (as well as their counterparts at the State University of New York) reached an agreement with state officials in a bid to lead to more stable appropriations and tuition increases (both of which have fluctuated widely in the past). Some student leaders, however, have objected to any tuition increases, and there have been protests when rates have been raised.
Goldstein's letter to the system noted pride that during his tenure, more than 2,000 full-time faculty jobs have been added systemwide.
Relations between CUNY and its faculty union during Goldstein's tenure have sometimes been frosty. Currently, CUNY administrators and the union are divided over a program designed to create a smooth path for community college students to enroll in four-year programs after completing associate degrees. While the goal is one most educators applaud, faculty leaders have said that the plan has been poorly designed and has ignored professors' concerns.
The University of North Carolina board is expected today to name Carol Folt as the next chancellor of the flagship campus at Chapel Hill, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Folt is currently interim president of Dartmouth College, where she has served as provost. She will succeed Holden Thorp, who is becoming provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Thorp has been well respected as an academic leader at UNC, but is leaving the chancellorship after a series of scandals in athletics.
Hundreds of employees at Bergen Community College apparently overpaid their New Jersey and federal taxes for years, The Bergen Record reported. The overpayments were the result of incorrect calculations about life insurance policies that are covered by the W-2 forms employees receive to do their taxes. The college has issued new W-2 forms and is advising employees that they may want to file amended returns for prior years.
Rutgers University President Robert Barchi -- already under fire over the scandal over an abusive basketball coach who many think should have been fired before he was -- is facing "a growing revolt" at the university's Newark campus, The Star-Ledger reported. Students and faculty members say that Barchi has favored the New Brunswick campus, denying Newark the resources that it needs. At an open forum at Newark on Monday, Barchi planned to talk about the development of a new strategic plan for the university. But he was interrupted by attendees who said they were unimpressed by his presentation and tired of their concerns not being addressed. Some at the meeting carried signs calling for Barchi's ouster. He said that he fully supports the Newark campus, although he didn't seem to convince the audience.
Higher education believes in sustainability to such extent that at Midwestern universities, like my own, we advocate for ingredients on food labels. The biggest issue in sustainability, however, is not a green environment as much as the greenbacks it takes to earn a college degree.
University presidents are trying with moderate success to lower burgeoning student debt, more than $29,000 on average per student at my institution with similar amounts at other public colleges and universities. The conventional wisdom is to raise more scholarships from alumni (many of whom are still paying off debt), raise legislative awareness about the importance of higher education (been there, done that) and, more recently, raise students’ financial acumen about the cost of a degree. (Some 13 percent of Iowa State University students with loans didn’t realize they had debt).
Of all consumer economic sectors, higher education can do a better job in providing information about what tuition dollars buy. To mitigate that effect, the Iowa State Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, which I direct, has assembled a fact sheet for current and prospective students, informing them how long it takes to earn a journalism or advertising degree, the availability of scholarships and financial aid, current enrollment figures, recruitment and retention rates, placement data within six months of graduation (in Iowa, U.S. and abroad), and average starting salaries in advertising, journalism and public relations.
Average student debt remains a problem at Iowa State. Because administration here has focused on lowering debt, it is slowly decreasing from a high of $30,619 for bachelor's graduates in 2005-06 to $29,324 in in 2010-11. We all know that is not good enough at a land-grant institution where a college education should be most affordable.
Average debt for Iowa State advertising and journalism majors from 2005-11 essentially mirrored that of the university, with advertising hovering at $29,000 over the past eight years and journalism at about $27,000. We have been addressing debt in orientation classes by requiring students to file four-year undergraduate plans of study, to discourage people from taking more than four years (and thereby adding to their debt). We have streamlined curriculums to accelerate graduation. We also have raised millions in support from our donors.
Starting salaries in a desired field should at least equal average student debt so that graduates pay off loans in about 10 years while working in their chosen professions.
In our disciplines jobs are readily available with sufficient entry-level salaries to offset debt. But that assumes we can graduate students within 4-5 years (about 60 percent at Greenlee do) and place them in industry, graduate school or military (we place 97 percent within six months of commencement). More than half of our most recent graduates have found employment in Iowa, a fact about which we are proud, as a land-grant institution serves the state as well as the nation and world.
This is why transparency is vital if we ever hope to enlist faculty and administration (with oversight by legislatures and regents) in the collective effort to reduce tuition. I have written about that previously in Inside Higher Ed, focusing on curricular expansion and student debt.
In October 2012 we began providing transparent data on our school website that goes beyond that recommended in the College Scorecard, announced in President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address. Each institution’s "scorecard" is supposed to provide information about default and graduation rates, average debt, cost of tuition, and job prospects after graduation.
The scorecard has been criticized on a number of fronts. There is concern that students at prestigious colleges, such as the Ivy League, for example, may not need to borrow as much as counterparts at less wealthy public institutions. Prospective students viewing average loan debt might be misled by such a statistic. The liberal arts also might come off poorly because technical and professional degree-holders earn more in entry-level positions.
Those are persuasive arguments that have little to do with transparency, which has three rules:
Transparency requires data. No data, no transparency.
Transparency requires sunshine. No sunshine, no transparency.
Transparency requires assessment. No assessment, no solution.
In other words, you not only must gather facts; you need to display those facts for all to see and then assess how to address problem areas. The real challenge is collecting data down to the degree level (rather than at the institutional level) and then showcasing that information on each department’s website.
Your institution, college, school or department may balk at sharing data as we are doing at the Greenlee School. There is a reluctance to acknowledge potentially embarrassing information as there was in the 1990s about publicizing crime statistics on campuses. Just as those days ended by regulation, law and decree, the current status quo of documenting vital statistics in hard-to-access fact books also soon will end.
In September, we received a letter from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, informing us that no later than next fall accredited colleges like ours must post graduation and retention statistics clearly on our websites, with data updated annually.
Upon further investigation, we found that the new requirement was inspired by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which advocates self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. (CHEA recognizes ACEJMC.) "CHEA has been encouraging colleges, universities and accrediting organizations to provide additional information to the public about performance and what counts as academic effectiveness for some time," Judith Eaton, CHEA president, told me. Eaton added that the decision on what data to share with constituents is left up to individual institutions and academic units, but particularly welcomes "evidence of student achievement, what students learn and can do."
We have an obligation to share that information with the public. Data on student debt per academic discipline is an essential criterion of this effort. When coupled with placement, retention and graduation rates, along with job opportunities, that information can help prospective students and their parents make smart consumer choices.
However, typical institutions collect debt data only at the college and university levels. Thus, generating statistics for each academic unit can overload financial aid offices, which already have significant reporting obligations to document how federal and state aid was distributed and to make a case for more in the future. If any office needs expanding to help offset student debt, financial aid should be a top priority.
Imagine, though, the benefit of supporting that office and the utility of the data that it can generate, particularly if the information is posted on websites. What would be the effect in the public, legislative and regents’ arenas if every academic unit was obligated to do this for institutional reaccreditation?
Taxpayers would know which department requires 6.5 years on average to graduate students with a bachelor’s degree, which department’s average student debt exceeds the institutional norm, and which department’s graduates are apt to find jobs in their majors or assistantships in graduate school. These data then can become part of a unit’s assessment plan, with the emphasis on continuous improvement. Faculty can streamline curriculums with a focus on rigor rather than pedagogical expansion. Chairs can put more emphasis on recruitment and retention. Directors and deans can emphasize fund-raising. Provosts can revise budget models to reward units that recruit, retain and graduate students in a timely manner. Presidents can tout access to education to regain the public’s trust, which just may be the key to higher levels of fund-raising and legislative support.
Internally, we would also have additional criteria to evaluate the performance of chairs, deans, provosts and presidents and to focus the faculty on areas of public service and access to education.
Michael Bugeja chairs the Contemporary Leadership Committee of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.