What's the saying about glass houses? The chief lawyer for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has sent letters to Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina asking about their use of state-owned or leased aircraft, and who travels on such flights, The Greenville News reported. The article noted that the governor's new interest in such issues comes as the governor is facing a barrage of criticism over his use of state planes and his travel expenses for trips on which state business may not have been the only item on the agenda.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Unions representing more than 60,000 professional staff members and graduate students at the University of California's 10 campuses voted no confidence Thursday in President Mark G. Yudof, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Union officials said that 96 percent of those who voted turned thumbs down on Yudof, many citing unhappiness at how the president and other administrators have handled the university's budget crisis.
Gallaudet University has announced four finalists to become its next president -- and all of them are deaf and use sign language, The Washington Post reported. Gallaudet's presidential selections are among the most scrutinized by students and others who care about the university because the president is seen as a national figure in discussions of deaf people. Sustained protests of some past selections have led to withdrawals and considerable debate. The candidates for the opening are: T. Alan Hurwitz, president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf; Roslyn Rosen, director of the National Center on Deafness at California State University at Northridge; Ronald J. Stern, superintendent and chief executive of the New Mexico School for the Deaf; and Stephen F. Weiner, provost of Gallaudet.
WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a gathering of presidents of historically black colleges and universities Wednesday that their institutions are essential to the future of the country's education system -- and that they must do a better job helping students get degrees. That dual message, delivered to the 2009 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference here, is consistent with the forceful ideas put forward this summer by John Silvanus Wilson Jr., the Obama administration's new head of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Duncan filled his speech with praise for the tradition of historically black colleges' doing more with less, preparing generations of black leaders despite often comparatively "meager resources." Other colleges could have much to learn from HBCUs in these lean times, Duncan said, singling out institutions such as Elizabeth City State University and Philander Smith College. But while black colleges will benefit heavily from the economic recovery package and other federal aid, they, like other institutions, will have to become more cost efficient. Duncan also challenged the institutions' effectiveness, noting that the teachers they produce are less likely than their peers to pass certification tests and that many of the colleges have graduation rates below 20 percent, an "unacceptable outcome for students.... And just like other institutions of higher education, HBCUs cannot explain away big differences in graduation rates simply by reference to the usual suspects. The management practices of those colleges have to be part of the explanation -- and part of the solution."
More than half of the 165 colleges providing information to the American College Health Association reported instances of the H1N1 virus on their campuses, the association said in the first of what will become weekly reports from a survey of institutions. Combined, the colleges in the survey -- which is designed to supplement federal surveys by providing a campus-specific picture of the swine flu outbreak -- reported 1,640 cases, or about 7.9 per 10,000 students. Instances were highest in the Southeast and far Northwest, the ACHA reported, and the illness remains mild so far. "Despite brisk disease activity on campuses in some regions of the country, we have just one report of hospitalization and no reported deaths due to influenza," said James C. Turner, president of the association and executive director of the Department of Student Health at the University of Virginia.
A final deal to revive Antioch College -- independent of Antioch University -- will be signed Friday. The agreement was announced by the Great Lakes Colleges Association, which has helped promote the negotiations between the alumni leaders who will be managing the revived college and the university's board.
The following meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
- Women Administrators in Higher Education Conference, Washington, D.C., September 18.
- 65th National Conference, National Association for College Admission Counseling, September 24-26, Baltimore, Md.
- Network for Academic Renewal Conference, Association of American Colleges and Universities, October 1-3, Minneapolis.
- National Conference, Association for General and Liberal Studies, October 1-3, St. Louis.
- Business Operations Conference, Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I), October 4-7, Columbus, Ohio.
- Conference of Chief Academic Officers, Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, October 15-17, Worcester, Mass.
- Fall Central Section Meeting, American Mathematical Society, October 16-18, Waco, Tex.
To submit a listing, click here.
Oakland University's faculty voted late Wednesday to authorize a strike, and the faculty union urged members to skip today's first day of classes. Newspaper accounts of the vote, like this one in the Detroit Free Press, said that the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors had authorized a strike but that the union would call for a boycott early this morning only if they believed talks were at an impasse. A note on the home page of Oakland's AAUP this morning said: "The 2006-09 contract has expired without a tentative agreement. The AAUP team asks the faculty show support for the bargaining process and to not meet classes until further notice." A note on the university's Web site warned students to prepare for a work stoppage but also noted that a strike would violate state law.
Students took out 25 percent more in federal student loans in 2008-9 than they did the year before, according to Education Department data reported by The Wall Street Journal. The federal data showed borrowing rising to $75.1 billion, higher than the 17 percent most recently projected by the Obama administration. Robert Shireman, deputy under secretary for education, called the rise "definitely above expectations" and attributed it to the poor economy and increases in federal limits on how much students can borrow.
In a sign of the impact of the recession on colleges with large endowments, Stanford University announced that total layoffs at the institution over the last eight months were 412 -- some of whom are still working with their jobs due to end soon. Stanford is projecting at 30 percent drop in endowment value in 2009.