Faculty members at Columbus State University have voted no confidence in President Tim Mescon and Provost Inessa Levi, by wide margins, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. Faculty members cited a number of grievances, including tenure decisions and shifts in library oversight, and administrators have pulled back on some of the decisions that angered professors.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kathryn A. Martin, chancellor of the University of Minnesota at Duluth, on Thursday denounced as “horrendous and despicable” a Facebook discussion among two white female students that was read by many students at the institution, The Duluth News Tribune reported. The discussion, on the students' Facebook pages, took place as a black student entered a study lounge where the white students were working (and chatting on Facebook). Among the comments, according to several news accounts: “ew-w-w a obabacare is in the room, i feel dirty, and unsafe. ... keep a eye on all of your valuables and don't make direct eye contact.” After the comments spread, they became the topic of widespread discussion on the campus and a university investigation.
Robert J. Sternberg, a prominent psychologist who has pioneered alternative approaches to college admissions, has been named the next provost of Oklahoma State University. Sternberg spent most of his academic career at Yale University and since 2005 has been dean of arts and sciences at Tufts University. In an e-mail interview, Sternberg said that many have been surprised by his decision to move to Oklahoma State, but that he had decided he wanted to work in public higher education. (He pulled out of being the sole finalist for the position of provost of the University of Colorado at Boulder to accept the Oklahoma State job.)
Access is the key issue facing higher education today, Sternberg said, and he worries that elite private higher education -- though doing a great job in many respects -- may not be where the action is. "I think that our society has a real problem but does not recognize it -- that its obsessive preoccupation with test scores has sowed the seeds of its own destruction. We need to be concentrating on developing wise and ethical leaders -- instead we are developing people who are consummate multiple-choice test-takers who do not necessarily have the wisdom to lead," he said.
"This is not to dump on the elite schools -- they are doing the job they believe they should do," he said. "But is it the right job? Society as a whole has, I think, drifted in the wrong direction. I believe that the state schools, with their emphasis on service and 'giving back,' represent a crucial direction for this country. We need to emphasize wisdom and giving back, not just narrow academic intelligence and how to use it to take more. Oklahoma State, I found, had the same core values I do."
The Alabama Legislature reached a deal Thursday that will keep the state's prepaid tuition program functioning, the Associated Press reported. With the 2008 collapse of stock values, the funds invested by the state on parents' behalf no longer appear sufficient to pay the tuition of those who paid to join the plan. Some in the state have worried that the bailout would amount to a large infusion of funds to a program that largely benefits the middle class or wealthy who participate at a time that colleges that primarily serve low-income students are short on funds. In the end, the deal will provide $548 million over 17 years to maintain the program. And in a move that is being criticized, the deal requires public universities to limit tuition increases for program participants, but exempts Auburn University and the University of Alabama systems.
The national leadership of the Kappa Alpha Order has banned members from wearing Confederate uniforms to "Old South" parties that have been a tradition for many chapters, the Associated Press reported. At some campuses, the parties and uniforms have been seen as racially insensitive. A statement from the executive director announcing the rule said: "In today's climate, the order can ill afford to offend our host institutions and fend off significant negative national press and remain effective at our core mission, which is to aid young men in becoming better community leaders and citizens."
California needs to revise its famous master plan for higher education by admitting many more students to universities, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. The report argues that the relatively small percentages of students the plan envisions receiving a bachelor's degree are insufficient in today's economy. The analysis calls for the University of California to serve the top 15 percent of the state’s high school students (compared to today's goal of the top 12.5 percent) and for the California State University campuses to serve the top 40 percent (as opposed to the top 33 percent today). The report also calls for stricter rules to assure smooth transfers from the state's community colleges to its universities.
The University of Oregon has "reassigned" its general counsel to teach at the law school, The Eugene Register-Guard reported. University officials aren't commenting on the reasons behind the switch, but it follows a controversy over the departure package negotiated by the university with its athletic director.
The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to regulate stem cell research, barring the sale or purchase of human eggs and requiring universities to file annual reports on how many embryos they are using, The Detroit News reported. University officials in the state opposed the measures -- backed by anti-abortion politicians who oppose stem cell research -- saying that they would needlessly complicate doing research that is regulated by federal agencies and that has great potential for yielding medical breakthroughs.
Quebec officials are blasting a McGill University plan to raise tuition substantially for its M.B.A. program -- to $30,000 from about $1,700. McGill officials said that they increases are needed to preserve the quality of the program, and that the new rates wouldn't be outside the norms for top programs. But The Globe and Mail reported that Quebec is threatening to hold back about $30,000 in provincial funding for each Quebec resident admitted to the M.B.A. program, if the university goes ahead with its plan.
The Association of American Universities on Wednesday announced that it had invited the Georgia Institute of Technology to become a member -- an offer the institute accepted immediately. Georgia Tech brings AAU membership to 63. The association is an invitation-only group whose members are selected on the basis of the breadth and quality of research and graduate programs, among other qualities. While universities do not formally apply to become members, many let it be known that they would like to be considered. Three quarters of existing members must approve any expansion. Georgia Tech is the first new member in nine years.