The first dominoes in the latest round of big-time college football conference switching fell late last week, with the University of Colorado at Boulder announcing that it had accepted an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln becoming the 12th member of what is still known as the Big Ten Conference, and Boise State University jumping to the Mountain West Conference. More moves are almost certainly on the way, which may not bode well for some members of the Big 12 Conference, who fear that the defections of Nebraska, Colorado and possibly others could devastate their league. Officials of the University of Oklahoma, another Big 12 member, reportedly met with Pac-10 leaders on Saturday, and promptly scheduled a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, presumably to discuss the university's options.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Rutgers University is calling off raises scheduled to go into effect over the next few weeks for just about all employees, The Star-Ledger reported. The university is citing looming budget cuts from the state, and invoking a provision in its union contracts that says that the university isn't obligated to pay raises if there is not money available to cover payroll. Rutgers is heavily unionized and union leaders are talking about challenging the decision. They note that the budget cuts are not surprises and argue that the university can find ways to meet its contract obligations.
Educause has released the results of its latest survey of CIOs on top technology issues, with finance issues on top of the list, as was the case a year ago. Here is the top 10 list:
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP/information systems
4. Teaching and learning with technology
5. Identity/access management
6. (tie). Disaster recovery / business continuity
6. (tie). Governance, organization and leadership
7. Agility, adaptability and responsiveness
8. Learning management systems
9. Strategic planning
10. Infrastructure / cyberinfrastructure
Academics remain reluctant to allow their journal articles to be deposited in open-access repositories, according to the Oxford University Press. The press announced Thursday that the percentage of Oxford Press articles authorized for re-publication in its open-access repository decreased overall from 6.7 to 5.9 percent between 2008 and 2009. Officials attributed the decrease to a relatively low rate of opt-ins from 11 new journals to which the option was extended in 2009; putting those new titles aside, the proportion of authors allowing their work to be made freely available stayed roughly the same. Still, the stagnation of that rate indicates that researchers are still wary of endorsing an open-access model, Oxford officials said in a release. Humanities scholars were the least willing to participate in Oxford Open, the press's open-access initiative, opting in at a rate of 2.5 percent. Life sciences scholars were the most generous with their work, with 11.4 percent allowing their papers to be freely accessible.
Monsignor Stuart Swetland, a professor of Christian ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland and the only finalist remaining for the presidency of Seton Hall University, has withdrawn from the search amid leaks alleging that he was making significant salary demands, The Star-Ledger reported. Unnamed university officials told the newspaper that the would-be president proposed a salary of nearly $300,000 and a three-year severance package. Monsignor Robert Sheeran, the outgoing president, earns about $31,000 -- typical of the low pay historically awarded to Roman Catholic clergy serving as presidents. Monsignor Swetland, while not providing details, disputed the figures quoted by the newspaper.
Moody’s issued a new analysis Thursday that said the debt rating agency continued to stand by its "negative outlook" for private colleges, despite generally stable enrollments at most institutions thus far during the economic downturn. Key problems identified include "weakened balance sheets and reduced institutional
wealth," and "the likelihood of weakened net tuition revenue for private colleges in fall 2010."
The House of Representatives education committee said Thursday that it would hold a hearing next week to examine how regional accrediting agencies define the "credit hour" as they judge the academic quality and rigor of the institutions they accredit. The issue was raised in audits of three accrediting agencies that the Education Department's Office of Inspector General released in the last six months, amid concerns that the agencies are setting too lax a standard for the amount of time students spend on course work to earn academic credit. No details were available on the hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee, other than that it would be held on June 17.
Teach for America may be far less successful than its publicity suggests, according to a policy brief from the Education and the Public Interest Center and the Education Policy Research Unit. The report reviews evidence about the effectiveness of Teach for America teachers -- generally graduates of elite colleges who have received some training, but nothing resembling formal teacher education. The study found that the Teach for America teachers do better than other uncredentialed teachers (in terms of the impact on their students' test scores), but that they don't do better than teachers who have been credentialed. Teach for America teachers improve if they stay in the field long enough to earn credentials, but that's not the norm, the report says.
Tony Atwater announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania to take a senior position at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, The Indiana Gazette reported. While Atwater did not take questions from reporters, the move follows a series of disputes with faculty leaders, who have questioned his priorities and management style.
LAS VEGAS -- First it was the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools. Then the Career College Association. Now, amid increasing debate about how to better reflect what its members herald as their embrace of innovation and independence from government, the primary lobbying group for for-profit higher education has a new name: the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The group, which will be known as APSCU (not to be confused with APLU, the acronym for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the new name for the major association of public research universities), announced the change after a vote of its board at the start of its annual meeting, which began here Wednesday.