The Lumina Foundation on Thursday released a second batch of white papers on performance-based funding in higher education. This group of five papers focuses on lessons from states that have linked funding for state colleges to metrics such as on-time graduation and the number of at-risk students who graduate.
For example, two of the analyseslook at results in Tennessee, which has the nation's most ambitious performance-based funding formula. Another examines an aggressive approach that Texas State Technical College System has used to voluntarily tie its state contribution to graduates' earnings.
The foundation eventually plans to release 13 of the papers.
“Lumina believes thoughtfully designed approaches to public financing must prioritize both college access and completion,” said Jamie Merisotis, the foundation's president and CEO, in a written statement. “A focus on equity in student outcomes is an essential objective of today’s outcomes-based funding models. In addition to increasing attainment, we must close the current achievement gaps for students of color and low-income students.”
In more than 40 states, college football and basketball coaches are the highest-paid public employees, often outearning the presidents who hired them. Despite the popularity of college football and basketball, more than half of Americans don't agree with paying coaches such high salaries, a new survey found. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the survey, which was conducted by the research firm Finn Partners, said coaches should not make more than college presidents.
Opinions on the matter varied by age, however. Nearly half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said they supported college coaches earning more than presidents, while 35 percent of those between 30 and 44 said they opposed such a pay gap. About a quarter of those between 45 and 59 said they supported coaches earning more, as did about 10 percent of those who are 60 and older.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association will distribute more than $200 million to Division I members next year to help institutions pay for benefits and services for athletes. The money can be used to launch literacy and mental health programs or to expand academic advising services, as well as be used to help colleges cover athletes' full cost of attendance, pay for four-year guaranteed scholarships and provide unlimited meals and snacks for athletes.
“This is an important time for college athletics, in which our schools are finding new and innovative ways to support student-athletes,” said Kirk Schulz, the president at Kansas State University and chair of the NCAA's Board of Governors, the committee that approved the release of the funds. “But we are mindful that these programs come at a cost that can strain schools’ budgets. So the decision to provide this one-time funding to the Division I membership will help schools through this transition and shows our continued commitment to student success.”
The $200 million will come from assets that the NCAA holds in reserve as “financial protection against significant disruptions in the association's operations.” After the five wealthiest conferences began covering the full cost of attendance for athletes last year, the NCAA distributed $18.9 million to Division I institutions, or about $55,000 per institution. The NCAA estimated at the time that paying full cost of attendance would increase aid amounts by about $2,500 per athlete, or about $30 million a year across all programs. It soon became clear the NCAA’s estimates fell far short, with some estimates putting the total amount closer to $100 million.
The University of Texas at Austin announced Wednesday that it found no wrongdoing by a professor in his actions in November when a lecture he organized was disrupted by pro-Palestinian students. The students interrupted the start of the lecture, which was on the Israeli military, with speeches of their own in which they criticized the Israeli military. The professor, Ami Pedahzur, then attempted to regain order and criticized the protesters, some of whom filed complaints accusing him of violating their rights and discriminating against them.
The university's announcement Wednesday said that an investigation found the accusations against Pedahzur to be unsubstantiated. The university said policy bars it from releasing full reports on charges found to be unsubstantiated. (Supporters of the students are accusing the university of a biased investigation.)
Gregory L. Fenves, president at UT Austin, issued a statement that suggested the thinking behind the university's finding. "Free discourse is vital to the University of Texas," he said. "As a university committed to knowledge and discovery, UT is steadfast in its support of inquiry and debate. Yet free speech also carries with it responsibility. The expression of free speech is not a license to drown out the speech of others, or to shout down ideas one disagrees with."
In a letter sent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Wednesday, more than 80 lesbian, gay and transgender organizations urged the NCAA to "divest from all religious-based institutions" that discriminate against transgender students. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education extended Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination on campuses, to include transgender students. According to the group Campus Pride, more than 50 religious colleges have since requested or received waivers to this part of Title IX so that they can expel or not admit transgender students.
"As people of faith or spirit we call upon the NCAA to act on its stated values as an LGBTQ-inclusive organization and divest from these schools who are willfully and intentionally creating unsafe environments for LGBTQ students," Jordyn Sun, national campus organizer for Soulforce, a gay rights group focused on religious colleges, said in a statement.
UPDATE: The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted today to approve the policies referenced below. Inside Higher Ed will have a full report tomorrow. Protests by audience members interrupted the meeting.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents votes today on new tenure, posttenure review and faculty layoff policies to close gaps in tenure protections created by a new state law. But some members of the systemwide task force that drafted the policies being considered say they had little input, reported The Cap Times. Bradley Seebach, an associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, told the paper despite assumptions that the draft policies represent the consensus of the 20-person task force, “no [one] can say whether the draft policies represent the common viewpoint of the task force members. This is because the members of the task force were never asked to endorse the policy statements, either as a whole or in individual parts. Like many other task force members, I went into the process assuming that we would be asked to endorse final policy statements.”
Another task force member who did not identify him or herself in responding to an informal poll by the Times said, “Since our input was ultimately ignored, I begrudge every minute wasted” on the task force. The same respondent said the new posttenure review policy “gives too much power to administrators and not enough time to turn around a subpar research program. These points were made very clear by the committee, and they were ignored.” One respondent, meanwhile, supported all three policies, saying they will keep the system competitive with other institutions.
The American Association of University Professors remains opposed to some aspects of the proposed policies. David Vanness, an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and head of its AAUP chapter, said in statement on Facebook Wednesday that the proposed policy on layoffs of tenured faculty members allows the administration “to discontinue programs (and lay off faculty) because other programs may be considered higher priority” because it wrongly conflates educational considerations and financial concerns.
The draft policy says, in part, that "educational considerations are related in part to regular program review, and reflect a long-range judgment that the educational mission of the institution as a whole will be enhanced by program discontinuance. This includes the reallocation of resources to other programs with higher priority based on educational considerations. Such long-range judgments generally will involve the analysis of financial resources and the needs of the program and any related college or school."
Vanness wrote that while the first sentence is fine, the last two “are disasters waiting to happen. If the administration decides, for example, that climate science is a lower priority than petroleum engineering, well -- it could be good-bye, climate science! It need not be so obviously political -- but do we want to work in a climate where we are competing against each other for our own jobs? We're talking Academic Hunger Games here, folks.”
Another “land mine” lurks in the inclusion of "current and predicted comparative cost analysis/effectiveness of the program" in the list of "educational considerations," Vanness said. If program A graduates more majors per dollar spent than program B, then program B could be discontinued, Vanness argues. “What metric will be used to choose? The policy doesn't specify -- and doesn't give faculty the responsibility to decide (assuming that using comparative cost-effectiveness is even an appropriate reason to lay off faculty). … The only acceptable conditions for faculty layoff are either a true institutionwide financial emergency or that a program should be discontinued for bona fide educational considerations, as determined by the faculty (who, after all are supposed to have primary responsibility for curriculum and research)."
The university system has maintained that its proposed standards are on par with peer institutions.
Meanwhile, Madison last semester gave out $726,436 in raises and $8 million in research support to maintain 40 top faculty members being courted by other institutions, the Journal-Sentinel reported, based on information it obtained via an open records request. The number of professors taking outside offers to the central administration has reportedly increased this year, as many expected, since the Wisconsin Legislature changed the state’s tenure law and cut $250 million from the university system’s budget last summer. Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said at a recent Board of Regents meeting, according to the Journal-Sentinel, that in retaining the 40 professors, the university kept $18 million in federal research grants on campus. A half dozen faculty members who received retention offers decided to leave Madison anyway, and several professors who decided to stay reportedly remain worried about a long-term decline in faculty morale and working conditions.
A majority of college students are handling their finances responsibly, according to the results of a survey conducted last December by Sallie Mae, the student loan company, and Ipsos, a market research firm. Among the 800 traditional-aged college students (between 18 and 24) who responded, 77 percent reported paying their bills on time. More than half (55 percent) set aside savings every month. And 60 percent said they never spend more money than they have, while 65 percent said they have a paying job.
The newly released report also looked at how students make payments. Debit cards were the top choice. But 56 percent of respondents have credit cards.
"Today’s college students demonstrate a careful approach to managing money," the report said. "Students have a cautious attitude toward debt, with the majority saying they never spend more than they have, and the majority agreeing that credit cards can contribute to impulse buying and debt accumulation."
A survey of college presidents by the American Council on Education has found that many report having taken actions to deal with diversity concerns on campus. Among the findings:
Nearly half of four-year presidents and 13 percent of two-year presidents say students have organized around concerns about racial diversity.
Eighty-six percent of four-year presidents and 71 percent of two-year presidents have met with student organizers more than once.
More than half of presidents say the racial climate on their campuses has become more of a priority compared to three years ago.
The most common action over the last five years, for both two-year and four-year institutions as well as public and private institutions, has been initiatives aimed at increasing diversity among students, faculty and/or staff members.
An Inside Higher Ed survey of presidents released this week found that many college presidents see problems with race relations in higher ed nationally, but most think their own campuses are doing well.