administrators

Another Payout for a Departing Official at U. of Louisville

The University of Louisville has agreed to pay $346,844 to Angela Koshewa, who is retiring as the institution's top lawyer, The Courier-Journal reported. Details on why this agreement would be needed were unavailable, but both signed a deal stating that the money reflects a "desire to settle … any and all possible claims and differences among them." The move follows other large payments to departing senior officials.

 

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Pennsylvania System Accused of Title IX Violations

The Women's Law Project has filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department, charging that universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are violating gender equity laws by failing to provide enough opportunities for women, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The complaint cited Clarion University as an example, stating that women make up 60 percent of the undergraduate student body, but only 47 percent of varsity athletes. Systemwide, the complaint says, there are 900 slots needed to bring women to an appropriate share. A system spokesman denied any violations.

 

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Anger Over Raise for U. of Maine System Official

Faculty members at University of Maine campuses, coping with (and protesting) deep budget cuts throughout the system, were frustrated to learn this week of a $40,000 raise for a top financial official of the system, The Bangor Daily News reported. The salary of Rebecca Wyke, vice chancellor for administration and finance, went to $205,000 recently, up from $165,000 -- even as layoffs and other cuts have been instituted. System Chancellor James Page, said "Is it a lot of money? Yes." But he said Wyke was a finalist for a position elsewhere that would have paid her more. And he said that the system would have been hurt by her departure, adding that "you do need to have the right people in place to get the job done.”

 

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Report accuses U. Colorado at Boulder administration of violating academic freedom in reaction to sexism probe

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New AAUP report accuses U. of Colorado-Boulder administrators of violating academic freedom in their reaction to a sexism investigation of philosophy department this year.

Fired Professor Accuses Wayne State of Fraud

A former assistant professor of medicine and anatomy and cell biology at Wayne State University is accusing the university of fraudulently obtaining more than $169 million in federal grant dollars in a whistleblower lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reported. Christian Kreipke says the university falsely reported research costs, such as grossly exaggerating the cost of lab rats ($235,000 for 300) or lab technicians' salaries. Kreipke says he reported the alleged fraud, and was later fired in retaliation for being a whistleblower. He filed the complaint in 2012 and it only recently was unsealed in a U.S. District Court.

Wayne State has not been charged with any crime, although federal investigators are familiar with the case and in court documents have expressed an interest in following the lawsuit, according to the report. In a statement, Wayne State officials said: "“The author of the litigation — an individual who was terminated from his employment for research-related misconduct — has attempted to challenge his termination multiple times using several approaches. Without exception, every such attempt has failed decisively. Should Wayne State be served with this latest claim, we will defend aggressively, and we are confident that it will result in dismissal, as have all of his earlier attempts.”

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Dartmouth President Seeks End to 'Extreme' Behaviors

Phil Hanlon, president of Dartmouth College, Wednesday night told student leaders that it was time for the institution to end certain behaviors that he said are undermining the college's outstanding undergraduate education and experience.

"Dartmouth's promise is being hijacked, hijacked by extreme and harmful behaviors, masked by their perpetrators as acceptable fun," Hanlson said. "The list of offenses is familiar. From sexual assaults on campus … to dangerous drinking that has become more the rule than the exception … to a general disregard for human dignity as exemplified by hazing, events with racist and sexist undertones, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the Internet … a social scene that is too often at odds with the practices of inclusion that students are right to expect on a college campus in 2014."

Hanlon said that these behaviors are hurting the college, citing a decline in applications this year as one example. "We can no longer allow this college to be held back by the few who wrongly hide harmful behaviors behind the illusion of youthful exuberance. Routinized excessive drinking, sexual misconduct, and blatant disregard of social norms have no place at Dartmouth. Enough is enough."

He called for a task force -- including students -- to move to come up with strategies for changing campus culture.

 

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Mid-Continent U. Will Close

Mid-Continent University, a private institution in Kentucky, will close June 30, KFVS 12 News reported. The university has been financially struggling, and facing rumors about a possible closure for months. All employees received layoff notices, and the university hopes that some faculty members will volunteer to allow a final cohort of students to graduate. The university enrolls about 300 students on campus, and another 600 online or through off-campus programs.

 

Charleston Trustees Were Warned About Politicized Search

Seven of the 15 members of the College of Charleston’s presidential search committee warned trustees against politicizing the process that eventually selected South Carolina’s lieutenant governor.

In documents, first reported by The Post and Courier, nearly half the members of the search committee -- including the head of the college’s foundation -- said the trustees could end up doing long-term damage to the college. The trustees picked Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, and now his promotion of Confederate history and the process by which he was picked could damage Charleston’s reputation and turn away prospective students and donors.

Faculty have said the search process was a sham, given that McConnell emerged at the top of the heap despite reports the search committee didn’t choose him as a finalist.

“After our work concluded, rumors have run rampant here in Charleston about the candidate slate presented to you and the likelihood the slate will be modified,” the seven search committee members wrote on Feb. 25, a month before McConnell was named president. “These rumors beg the question -- is the integrity of the process we worked under being assaulted? If a politicization of this process occurs, the consequences will be far reaching.”

The letter predicted the college would damage its ability to recruit quality faculty, staff, deans and future presidents and lose the confidence of nearly every campus constituent group. So far, the latter half of that prediction is playing out: students have held a major protest against McConnell and the student government and faculty have both taken a “no confidence” vote in the board.

The documents also include emails from Sharon Kingman, the chairwoman of the College of Charleston Foundation Board, that say lawmakers put pressure on the trustees to pick one candidate over another and discusses "the conspiracy theory" that McConnell could eventually seek a spot on the state’s Supreme Court. The justices are selected by the state legislature.

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U. Illinois at Chicago, Faculty Union Reach Contract Deal

The University of Illinois at Chicago has agreed to a tentative contract with the United Faculty Union, whose members went on a two-day strike in February seeking what they called a living wage for full-time, non-tenure-track professors and better pay for tenure-line faculty, among other goals. The union, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, announced the agreement Wednesday but said details are embargoed through the end of next week, when members put it to a vote. In a news release, the union said "[m]any aspects of faculty work life and professional conditions are dramatically improved under the new agreement," and that it "averted" the possibility of a second strike planned for April 23.

University Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Provost Lon Kaufman said in a joint statement: "We are pleased that the university and the union representing bargaining units for tenure-system and non-tenure-system faculty have reached tentative agreement on final contracts. Both sides in this long process have been focused on the teaching, research and service missions of the university, and this agreement will allow us to move forward together to serve the city and the state and, most of all, our students." The statement noted that the agreement is tentative is "subject to ratification and approval by both sides."

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How much federal regulation is appropriate? (essay)

I approach the topic of the appropriate reach of government regulation into higher education in very much of two minds. On the one hand, I am the president of an independent-minded private college that has been in continuous operation for 139 years and delivers strong outcomes in terms of access, persistence, graduation, employment and post-graduation debt. Regulation from the federal government isn't likely to impose higher performance thresholds than we have already established for ourselves (and consistently achieved), or to improve our performance, but added regulations will very likely impose new costs on us related to compliance, in addition to being just plain irritating.

On the other hand, I serve on the Board of Trustees of the Higher Learning Commission, and that service has opened my eyes both to the broad variety of institutions that the Commission serves and, very frankly, to instances of institutions that have gone awry, that are not serving their students well, that are not good stewards of the federal dollars that flow through their budgets, and that are either unwilling to admit their shortcomings or unable to address them.

The investment that government -- both federal and state -- makes in financial aid to students, who then pay that money to us so that we can use it to deliver our programs, is certainly considerable, and we need to be good stewards of it, so that students are well-served and taxpayers' dollars well-spent. If those ends are to be achieved, some regulation will be necessary.

So, how much is just right? Here’s an answer: the minimum amount necessary to achieve the two goals I just mentioned: ensure that students are well-served and that tax dollars are well-spent

As the reaction from the higher education community to the Department of Education's talk about a federal rating system for colleges and universities demonstrates, those seemingly simply goals I just articulated aren't simple at all once you get into any level of detail in specifying what it means to be "well-served" or "well-spent."

Does "well-served" for example tie out to a minimally acceptable four- or six-year graduation rate? What about open-access institutions whose mission is to prepare underserved students to succeed at a different kind of institution? What about institutions in a situation where graduation may not be the most important goal?

"Well-spent" raises similar questions. If you are an institution with a graduation rate in the 90 percents, but the percent of Pell-eligible students in your student body doesn’t reach the number of Pell-eligible students that somebody in an office in Washington decided was minimally acceptable, does that mean the federal dollars that flowed to your budget through student tuition payments weren't well-spent because they weren't supporting certain policy goals, despite evidence that your program is effective?

These problems aren't new. Every regulated industry faces them, and perhaps as we think about proposed increases in the regulation of higher education a wise thing to do would be to study those industries -- if any -- where the right balance between the actors in the industry and government regulation has been struck.

In the meantime, here are a few thoughts about how much government regulation is just right:

It's too much if it imposes compliance costs and burdens on institutions that plainly are serving students well and being good stewards of tax dollars. 

It's not enough if there's demonstrable evidence that there are numbers of institutions with clearly articulated and appropriate mission statements that are not delivering on those missions but are nevertheless consuming significant resources.

It's not enough if there is clear and demonstrable evidence that self-regulation, and by that I mean accreditation, is ineffective.

It's too much if regulation requires an institution that is otherwise flourishing to change its mission in response to the policy goals of whoever happens to be running the U.S. Department of Education at the moment.

It's too much if the net effect is to narrow the diversity of types of higher education institutions in America, the diversity of their missions, of their entry points, and so forth.

It's too much if a compliance industry grows up around regulation.

It's too much if it can't be demonstrated that the net effect of the regulations, after the costs and burdens it imposes, has been to make institutions better serve students and steward tax dollars.

Many institutions of higher education in America don't need more regulation to help or force them do their job. Some do. Regulation that starts from that simple fact is most likely to be good for students, good for higher education, and good for the country.

David R. Anderson is president of St. Olaf College, in Minnesota. This column is adapted from remarks made at the panel on “How Much Government Regulation of Higher Education is Just Right?” at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Higher Learning Commission.

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