Wells College this week announced plans to eliminate several majors and five faculty positions by the 2011-12 academic year, AuburnPub.com reported. French and religion will both be eliminated as majors, and while courses will still be offered, they will be taught by adjuncts, and tenured faculty lines will be eliminated. Music will be eliminated as a concentration in the performing arts major. Faculty have been concerned for several months about the college's financial situation and plans to cut programs and positions.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Lambuth University, a financially struggling private college in Tennessee, has announced that it has a "major financial commitment" to enable it to start to make payroll and to serve its students, The Jackson Sun reported. The university has been negotiating with private investors -- first to be purchased, and then for partnerships to grow online courses. The commitments apparently reflect the latter model, but the university has not released details or even identified the partner that is providing the money.
Faculty groups are urging the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors to reject a proposal, on the agenda for a meeting today, to modify tenure protections for faculty members. The proposals come at a time that the state is preparing for major budget cuts and university administrators are calling for maximum flexibility in responding to those cuts. But faculty groups say that in the name of flexibility, the proposal would gut tenure protections. A letter from the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors notes, for example, that the plan would appear to let tenured professors be dismissed not only when programs are completely eliminated due to financial exigency (the status quo) but because programs are reduced in size. That would be a huge shift, the letter notes, calling the idea "a slap in the face of all faculty throughout academia."
Thomas Ross, president of Davidson College since 2007, is expected to be named today as the next president of the University of North Carolina System, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Prior to being named to the Davidson post, Ross's career was outside of higher education. He worked as a lawyer, judge and foundation leader. Ross would succeed Erskine Bowles, whose career also was outside of higher education until being named UNC president.
Three national groups are teaming up to create an online portal where adult students with previously earned academic and work force credits can have that "prior learning" assessed by independent faculty evaluators to facilitate the acceptance of that work by colleges. The portal will be a joint project of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, the American Council on Education, and the College Board, and is being established with $2.2 million from the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Kresge and Joyce Foundations.
The University of Colorado at Boulder on Wednesday announced two reviews -- one on possibly eliminating its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the other on creating a new program in information and communication technology. Officials stressed that no final decisions had been made, but that they believed -- and a previous review had suggested -- that significant changes are needed in the university's approach to journalism and communication education. "We want to strategically realign resources and strengths currently existing on the CU-Boulder campus to ensure that course and degree offerings meet the needs of students, the labor market, our campus mission and the communications needs of a rapidly changing global society," said a statement from Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.
Carnegie Mellon University has suspended a master's program in information networking that it has run in Greece since 2002, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. University officials cited the impact of the recession, in Greece as well as in the United States.
The California Faculty Association is today releasing a report charging that the California State University System has been inappropriately mixing public funds into foundation accounts, the Los Angeles Times reported. Such mixing could be illegal because the foundation accounts are shielded from many open records requirements for the use of state funds. Cal State's chief financial officer confirmed that auditors had identified some problems with such mixing, but he said that the problem was not widespread and that he would soon issue guidelines to prevent any problems.
Apple released data on Tuesday demonstrating the dramatic growth of iTunes U. In three years of operations, downloads have topped 300 million. More than 800 colleges and universities have active sites, with more than 350,000 audio and video files posted.
Fidel Castro has apparently taken an interest in Beloit College's annual "mindset list" designed to help professors (in a humorous way) reflect on the experiences they and their new students don't share. The college released this year's list last week. Beloit officials were surprised to learn that the list was cited in a column by the Cuban leader, who took the list quite seriously. After citing some of the items on the list, Castro writes: "I was stunned to realize to what extent education could be distorted and prostituted in a country with more than 8 000 nuclear weapons and the most powerful means of war in the whole world."