administrators

Will 'U.S. News' Ignore the ABA?

Some law school deans thought recent communication from U.S. News & World report indicated that the magazine's rankings were about to ignore the recommendations of the American Bar Association. It turns out that U.S. News is preserving that option, but hasn't decided what to do. At issue is one of the recommendations of a special ABA panel that last month proposed numerous changes in legal education. One of the focuses of the ABA panel was the widespread criticism that law school is too expensive and that, at many law schools, spending that forces up tuition rates may not be improving the student experience. The panel specifically cited the impact of U.S. News including spending (expenditures per student) in its methodology. "This encourages law schools to increase expenditures for purpose of affecting ranking, without reference to impact on value delivered or educational outcomes, and thus promotes continued increase in the price of law school education." The panel urged U.S. News to stop including the measure in its methodology.

As a result, some law deans were disturbed to get this year's information request from U.S. News, with the same expenditure questions as in years past. One unnamed dean wrote on the blog Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: "While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see U.S. News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt."

Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, via e-mail confirmed that the questions were being asked but he said it was inaccurate to say that the information will be used in the next rankings. But he said that the rankings operation "has not made a determination at this time if there will be any change in the upcoming best law schools  ranking methodology."

 

Purdue President Says He Regrets Recent Speech

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has apologized for giving a speech this week at the fund-raiser for a conservative think tank in Minnesota. Daniels was the Republican governor of Indiana before becoming Purdue's president and he vowed to avoid partisan political activity in his new job. So some on campus were bothered by the appearance and an editorial in The Journal and Courier said that his Purdue role "will continue to be questioned and pulled down whenever he steps, however innocently, onto political turf." In a letter to the editor of the newspaper, Daniels stressed that the speech itself was not partisan. But he said that the editorial was correct, and that he should not have accepted the invitation, even if he didn't break any university rules in doing so. "[F]acts and rules aren’t the determining factor here. Perceptions, and understandable misperceptions, matter even more," he wrote. On reflection, this invitation should have fallen on that side of the line. I accept the validity of the criticism and will try to avoid similar judgment errors in the future."

 

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Leaders urge research universities to look beyond U.S. government for support

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Some research university leaders say it's time to look beyond the federal government to states and businesses, given Congress's dysfunction.

College Sued For Banning Constitution Hand-Out (on Constitution Day)

The Modesto Junior College student who was ordered by campus security to stop handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day last month is suing the Yosemite Community College District and Modesto officials in federal court. Robert Van Tuinen, an Army veteran, argues that administrators violated his First Amendment rights. In a video capturing the incident, an employee tells Van Tuinen he may only distribute his copies in the campus “free speech area,” and must also fill out the necessary paperwork before doing so. (But due to previous bookings he would have to wait at least three days.)

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Virginia Governor Seeks to Change Norfolk State Board

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is seeking the resignations of some members of the Norfolk State University board, The Virginian-Pilot reported. The requests come just weeks after the board fired Tony Atwater as president. Norfolk State faces numerous challenges, including the lowest graduation rate among public four-year institutions in Virginia and scrutiny from accreditors.

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Emerson Vows to Improve Handling of Sex Assault Charges

Emerson College officials pledged Wednesday to improve the process by which they handle allegations of sexual assault, The Boston Globe reported. Among other steps, college officials said they would hire an "advocate" to help victims of sexual assault through the investigation and judicial process. The announcement follows filing of a federal complaint by Emerson students saying that the college failed to adequately investigate two recent incidents.

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Cars and Club Memberships for U. of Nebraska Officials

While it is widely known that many college presidents and head football coaches receive cars in their compensation packages, 94 administrators or coaches at University of Nebraska campuses (and one coach's wife) receive cars, club memberships or both, The Omaha World-Herald reported. University officials defended the benefits as part of the process of attracting and retaining talent.

 

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Santa Clara U. Drops Abortion Coverage

Santa Clara University has removed elective abortion from its health coverage for employees, becoming the second Roman Catholic university (with Loyola Marymount University) to be facing faculty backlash over such a decision, The San Jose Mercury News reported. University officials said that they are trying to be consistent with church teachings. But faculty members say that they object both tp the decision, and to the fact that it was made without consultation with professors. "This really makes Santa Clara University's express commitment to openness, diversity and inclusiveness ring hollow," said Nancy Unger, a history professor.

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Wisconsin-LaCrosse Apologizes for Professor's 'Partisan' Comment

The University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse has apologized for an e-mail a professor sent to students earlier this week blaming the “Republican/Tea-Party controlled House of Representatives” for the ongoing government shutdown. In an e-mail Wednesday, Chancellor Joe Gow called the comment “inappropriate” and “problematic,” based on the fact that it didn’t appear to “add anything to the educational experience in the class,” and because such a “partisan reference” could make students uncomfortable.

Rachel Slocum, assistant professor of geography, said in an e-mail that she regretted the brevity but not necessarily the content of her message to students in her online class, as she wanted to explain why they wouldn’t be able to access U.S. Census Bureau data to complete an important assignment. (The bureau's website is unavailable due to the shutdown.)

Here's what she wrote, after being alerted by a student that the site was not working:

"Some of the data gathering assignment will be impossible to complete until the Republican/tea party controlled House of Representatives agrees to fund the government.... Please do what you can on the assignment. Those parts you are unable to do because of the shutdown will have to wait until Congress decides we actually need a government. Please listen to the news and be prepared to turn in the assignment quickly once our nation re-opens.”

Slocum said that "in hindsight, I should have either left out mention of the causal agents or gone into more detail so as not to make any student feel as if I was using my position to force my perspective on them. That feeling is certainly not what I wanted to convey." The professor wrote a similar message in a second e-mail to students, at the request of the dean of the College of Science and Health.

Gow said in an interview that Slocum's comments violated the university's policy against using its resources to engage in political activity.

 

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Amid Criticism, U. of Chicago Clarifies Policy on Elevators

The University of Chicago president has clarified the university’s policy about elevator use in the administration building, after some said uniformed workers were not being permitted to use the elevators. “Let me state in the simplest of terms what the policy actually is: the elevators are for everybody’s use,” Robert Zimmer wrote in a statement to facilities staff members. “This includes all of you and other staff members, faculty, students, visitors, vendors, and guests to the university. That has always been my intent, and there will be no policy to the contrary.”

The policy was criticized after reports that a maintenance worker with a hip replacement and a maintenance worker with asthma had to walk up four flights of stairs because they were not allowed to use the elevators in daytime hours. The Service Employees International Union, Local 73, had planned a rally to protest the policy prior to the president’s statement. 

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