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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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."
The New School announced Thursday that its next president will be David E. Van Zandt, the law dean at Northwestern University. Van Zandt will take over at the end of the year from Bob Kerrey, who in May announced his plans to leave the presidency. Kerrey's announcement came amid growing student and faculty unrest -- including sit-ins and votes of no confidence over a range of issues. Van Zandt has generally been credited with a strong performance as dean at Northwestern, attracting top faculty talent and also introducing new programs. But he has been criticized by some law professors nationally for pushing to end American Bar Association requirements that law schools have tenure systems. Van Zandt has argued that he is not opposed to tenure, but does not believe it is appropriate for the accreditor to have it as a requirement.
Officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Thursday that a continuing inquiry into its football program had uncovered evidence of "possible academic misconduct" by a former undergraduate tutor and an as-yet-undetermined number of players. At a hastily called news conference last night, Chancellor Holden Thorp, clearly troubled by the burgeoning evidence of troubles in the Tar Heel sports program, said that the extent of the academic wrongdoing remained unclear. But he promised a thorough investigation by a team of faculty members and administrators. "Academic achievement and fairness are at the heart of the University of North Carolina and the Department of Athletics," said Thorp. "We are treating this issue with the seriousness that you would expect. It's a privilege to put on the North Carolina uniform and to represent this University, and it's our job to make sure that the people who do so have earned that privilege."
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) announced Thursday that he plans to host a Chicago forum on for-profit higher education on Tuesday. Speakers will include two former for-profit students, the presidents of two public institutions, and executives from Career Education Corporation, Devry, Inc. and Kaplan University. The forum will consider "whether some for-profit colleges are exploiting rather than educating Illinois students" and include discussion of the industry's growth, reliance on the federal financial aid program and the value of the sector's degrees and certificates.
Durbin has been the most vocal member on the issue who is not on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Earlier this summer, he delivered a speech questioning the for-profit college business model. He was one of a half-dozen Democrats to sign onto a June letter asking the Government Accountability Office to initiate a wide-ranging investigation of the sector, and he wrote to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs earlier this month asking for information on how federal tuition assistance for current and former members of the military is being spent at for-profits.
The University of California has appointed an official to manage the costs associated with the home of Mark G. Yudof, president of the university, The New York Times reported. The move followed reports of hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses and the involvement of senior university officials in disputes over his previous rented home.
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.