Louisiana's Board of Regents has identified more than 450 academic programs at the state's public universities that will have to defend themselves against potential elimination because of low enrollments, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. The regents said the larger number of programs targeted -- the board has cut a total of 245 programs the last two years -- was necessary if Louisiana's public universities are to remain efficient and focused as the state faces continuing budget cuts. Programs will have until February to argue that they should be consolidated or continued instead of cut, the Advocate reported; a final report is due in April.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Utah State University has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the parents of a freshman who died from consuming vodka in a hazing incident in 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The parents never sought money, but agreed to drop the suit in return for what they said they wanted from the litigation: pledges by the university to improve oversight and guidance of the Greek system to prevent such tragedies.
Robert Burton, a donor to the University of Connecticut, is asking for his $3 million donation to be returned and for his family name to be removed from the football complex because the athletic director did not discuss his choices for a new football coach, The Hartford Courant reported. Burton made the demands in a letter to Gov. Daniel P. Malloy, writing "[D]on't underestimate me or what I have outlined and requested in this document.... I have already secured legal counsel from several law firms. If you are looking for a fight, then you have selected the right family. You have hurt and embarrassed the Burton family for the last time." The governor said he planned to review the matter with UConn officials before commenting, but did say that "I think it's important that universities run themselves and do so appropriately."
A local alumnus and his wife are giving the University of California at Los Angeles $100 million to strengthen (and rename) its School of Public Affairs and proceed with a hotel and conference center that some faculty oppose, the Los Angeles Times reported. A news release from the public affairs school said it would be renamed the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs, and said its $50 million share would be used mostly to build endowments to provide graduate student fellowships, faculty teaching and research, and civic engagement. The Times story said the other funds would help UCLA build a new facility to replace its current faculty club, and that the project is being challenged as unnecessary and risky at a time of financial strain.
The University of Southern California Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice is hosting a conference on admissions reform starting today. On Tuesday, it released a report analyzing the growth of the enrollment management industry. The report, "Enrollment Management, Inc.: External Influences on Our Practice," by Scott Andrew Schulz and Jerry Lucido, looks at the history and breadth of the field, and calls for closer examination of whether it is advancing educational values. "Vigorous questions about direction are required when the pursuit of prestige and revenue are becoming increasingly normative while conflicting with the wider social goals and benefits that serve as core values at the heart of many published institutional missions," the report concludes.
The Apollo Group has announced that it will shut down Meritus University, its new Canadian division. The statement cited a failure to attract enough students, and said that the university would help students finish their programs through the University of Phoenix.
Legislation proposed in Massachusetts would require much greater disclosure of financial assets by the state’s “private non-profit colleges and universities and their employees or consultants,” according to Fenton, an organization that creates campaigns for causes, including this legislation. Capital market investments, consultant fees, and real estate investments are some of the types of financial disclosures the bill would mandate. State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, who helped introduce the legislation, said her support came from reading a Tellus foundations report (pdf) released last year documenting massive losses taken by six Massachusetts university endowments from risky investments that went sour during the financial crisis. She said that because university investments are tied up with the “enormous public subsidies these institutions are granted, … the public has a right to know more.” Richard Doherty, the president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, sharply disagreed: “The premise of the bill is that private colleges are not fulfilling their charitable not-for-profit mission,” he said. “When people say things that are untrue, we’re going to be opposed to that.” The bill currently has the support of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is upset about layoffs that followed the endowments' losses at some universities.
The Faculty Senate of Idaho State University voted Monday to call for a faculty-wide vote of no confidence in President Arthur C. Vailas, the Idaho State Journal reported. The 27-point resolution, approved by a 19-6 vote with three abstentions, says the standing of the university has eroded during his more than four-year tenure. It calls Vailas's administration disorganized and dysfunctional, and asserts that faculty members fear retribution for speaking out (Habib Sadid, a tenured engineering professor, was fired when his critiques of the administration allegedly crossed the line from dissent to abusiveness). The resolution also questions Vailas's integrity, accusing him of claiming credit for work done by others and of spreading information that faculty members "believe to be untrue or unsubstantiated or unsupportable by known evidence and history."
Mark Levine, a university spokesman, issued a statement defending Vailas's leadership in transforming Idaho State from a regional institution to a "destination university." Levine called the accusations untrue and misleading while citing the improved financial position of the university and its classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of 98 institutions with high research activity. "In summary, all the things that should be up are up and all things that should be down are down," the statement reads. Levine also lamented the personal nature of the dispute, referring to it as "character assassination and vindictive vitriol."
Questions are being raised about why the 26-year-old son of Marshall Goodman, the University of South Florida Polytechnic chief, was hired for a $50,000-a-year job at the institute, The Ledger reported. University officials said that nothing inappropriate happened, and that the son was simply hired first as a temporary worker and then applied for and received the full-time job.