Many college presidents consider reporters a necessary nuisance in a democracy. Auburn University's interim president, Ed Richardson, isn't so sure about the necessary part.
He sent a memo to Auburn faculty members and administrators last week telling them that he will no longer speak with Jack Stripling, who covers higher education for the local newspaper, The Opelika-Auburn News.
Jonathan Bean is a popular professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale -- even though his libertarian politics don't always coincide with his students' views. A historian, he was just named Teacher of the Year in the College of Liberal Arts.
The numbers are bleak and -- for anyone who cares about the vibrancy of the American economy or the importance of an educated citizenry -- deeply worrisome: the United States has fallen to 17th in the world in high school graduation rates and 7th in college-going rates, and is the only industrialized country whose rates are falling.
And perhaps most troubling of all, the rates are lowest among those segments of the American populace that are growing the fastest.