Legislators in some states have taken aggressive steps to improve college success -- and the National Conference of State Legislators is drawing attention to their efforts in order to inspire and inform their peers elsewhere. "The Path to a Degree: A Legislator's Guide to College Access and Success," a new report from the group, contains a series of briefs on specific issues, such as financial aid policies, work force readiness, and college success.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Young English-speaking Canadians are much more likely than their Francophone counterparts to see higher education as essential, according to a new poll released by The Globe and Mail. The poll found that fewer than 20 per cent of 18- to 24-year-old French speakers said a university degree was essential for success, while 40 per cent of the English speakers said it was. The poll was released as Quebec considers steps it needs to take to lower high school dropout rates.
The American Association of University Professors on Friday announced an investigation into "issues of shared governance" at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While the AAUP did not detail the nature of its inquiries, RPI professors have harshly criticized the way the institute abolished and then reconstituted faculty governance, as well a dispute last year in which RPI shut down a controversial art exhibit.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Thursday named his six appointments to the reconstituted National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the secretary on issues related to accreditation. The previous incarnation of the panel was disbanded by Congress as part of last year's renewal of the Higher Education Act, driven in part by Congressional concerns (shared by many college leaders) that the panel -- whose members all were appointed by the executive branch -- had become too politicized. Congress's answer: let us appoint some members, too; the new panel has 18 members, six appointed by the secretary, six by the Senate, and six by the House. Duncan's appointees are below; so far, the other two appointees are Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education (appointed by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada) and Cameron Staples, a state legislator from Connecticut (by Sen. Chris Dodd of, yes, Connecticut).
- Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Emory University.
- Susan Phillips, provost and vice president for academic affairs, State University of New York at Albany.
- Jamienne Studley, president and CEO, Public Advocates Inc., and former president, Skidmore College.
- Aron Shimles, student, Occidental College.
- Frank Wu, professor, Howard University Law School.
- Frederico Zargoza, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, Alamo Colleges.
Student organizations that perform "governmental" functions are covered by Wisconsin's sunshine laws with regard to open meetings and records, Wisconsin's attorney general has said in an informal ruling, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The ruling comes in a dispute between the student newspaper and student government at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Boston University's Web site biography of Sharon Daniels, head of the university's Opera Institute, has significantly embellished her career, The Boston Globe reported. The biography said she had starring roles with several top companies that either have no record of her performing or that say she played only minor roles. The Globe reported that the university was aware of the errors as long ago as January, but corrected them only this week, after being contacted by the newspaper for an article. Daniels blamed the errors on the way her C.V. was condensed, and said she thought the mistakes had been fixed before this week.
Mississippi's state higher education board has given initial approval to a plan to make it easier to dismiss tenured faculty members, the Associated Press reported. Among the changes: shortening the notice time that must be given to tenured professors, and including lack of funds as a reason for terminating tenure-track professors.
With some members of Congress pushing for a formal playoff system in college football, lobbyists are the sure winners. The Bowl Championship Series has spent $670,000 on federal lobbying since 2003, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. Additional lobbying money is being spent by those who broadcast the games, and other entities with interests in the outcome of the push to change the bowl system.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has selected 19 colleges and universities for its controversial probe of whether colleges are favoring male applicants in admissions decisions, and whether any such preference is appropriate. The commission, seeking to minimize costs, selected colleges close to Washington, but included a range of four-year institutions, including public and private, historically black and predominantly white, religious and secular, and institutions of varying degrees of admissions competitiveness. While commission members say that they are just investigating a relevant issue, some advocates for female athletes view the effort as a way to raise questions about Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The colleges and the characteristics cited by the commission in selecting them are as follows:
- Historically black colleges: Howard University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Virginia Union University.
- Religious colleges: Catholic University of America, Loyola College in Maryland and Messiah College.
- Highly selective private institutions: Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University and Gettysburg College.
- Very selective private institution: University of Richmond.
- Moderately selective private institutions: Goucher College, Goldey-Beacom College, Washington College and York College of Pennsylvania.
- Moderately selective public institutions: Shepherd University, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware and University of Maryland-Baltimore County.