A University of Connecticut sorority has been suspended while it is being investigated for hazing not of women, but of men, The Hartford Courant reported. The newspaper reported that the Delta Zeta sorority was "accused of forcing men involved with a school fraternity to consume alcohol, eat dog treats, paint their bodies, wear women's thong underwear and take shots of alcohol off each other's bodies, among other things."
Dartmouth College today announced a $100 million gift, the largest in the college's history. Half of the gift will match other gifts. The donor is anonymous. A major use for the funds will be Dartmouth's cluster hiring initiative, in which groups of faculty members will be hired with various interdisciplinary research agendas.
Students at Washington University in St. Louis on Tuesday started an outdoor sit-in, pledging to camp out on campus until the university cuts ties to Peabody Energy, a coal company. The company's CEO, Greg Boyce, has been a donor and serves on the board. Further, the students object to research that they say falsely suggests that the environmental issues associated with the use of coal can be minimized. They are vowing to continue their protest until the university position changes.
The university issued a statement affirming the right of the students to protest, but defending research related to coal. "Washington University ... is a significant contributor to finding solutions to the world¹s energy challenges. Our researchers are focused on making alternative energy sources more viable," the statement says. "Our researchers also are focused on mitigating the environmental impact of the use of coal, including approaches to capturing and storing carbon dioxide that accompanies combustion of any fossil fuel. It is this dual approach that will allow us to address the greatest global issues of this century. As a world-class research university, Washington University not only has the potential, but the responsibility, to participate in finding those solutions."
A report commissioned by the Texas Legislature has found grounds to impeach Wallace Hall, a member of the University of Texas Board of Regents, The Texas Tribune reported. Among the possible reasons cited for impeachment include alleged use of confidential information in inappropriate ways and "unreasonable and burdensome requests" for information by system officials. Hall, who did not respond to requests for comment but who has defended himself previously, is an ally of Governor Rick Perry, a Republican. Hall is among the regents who have been highly critical of Bill Powers, president of the University of Texas at Austin, despite the strong support Powers has from faculty members, students and alumni leaders.
President Obama has said that even with a divided Congress, he has access to the phone and the pen. The White House summit on access was an example of what could be accomplished after phone calls, bringing together leaders from over 100 institutions to strengthen commitments to increasing college opportunity for low-income students.
One phone call that the president should make now is to U.S.News and World Report, asking editors to include socioeconomic diversity in more meaningful ways in their college and university rankings. If the Obama administration wants greater commitment on the part of colleges and universities to spend additional resources on financial aid, it needs to create greater incentives for them to do so. Changing the rankings would be a step in the right direction. U.S. News claims that its ranking already does this. But, if this were in fact the case, the rankings wouldn’t change as much as they do when a direct measure of socioeconomic diversity is added. And of course, the federal government could have a more direct impact by tying access to federal subsidies more directly to success on socioeconomic diversity.
Today, any dollar spent on need-based financial aid receives little credit in the U.S. News rankings, and also means not spending it on things that do count, such as small classes or faculty resources. Since most colleges include a commitment to the diversity of their student bodies as part of their mission, such a change should not be objectionable.
What would be the impact? The table below shows the rankings of the top 20 (plus ties) of national universities and of liberal arts colleges, according to U.S.News and World Report's latest rankings. A second ranking for each group of institutions is listed, which includes two variables that represent socioeconomic diversity. The first is the share of Pell Grant recipients. This is reported as the difference between the actual share of Pell Grant recipients and what would be expected given the academic selectivity of the school (measured simply as the share of students from the bottom two quintiles of the income distribution with the required SAT scores in the national pool). A positive number means the school is doing really well by low-income students. The second measure is the share of students on need-based financial aid, again relative to what would be expected given the school’s selectivity.
In this case, the share of students in the national pool from the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution with adequate SATs is used to measure what would be expected given the selectivity of the school. The rankings change when socioeconomic diversity is included. (Note: I’ve just included the rank of each school on the two measures of socioeconomic diversity and given them a 25 percent weight. U.S. News would do it in a different way, but the fact that including these variables would change the rankings would remain the case.)
There is much criticism of the U.S. News rankings, including that any unique ranking of schools based on a variety of variables can’t possible indicate for any individual student and family whether the college is a good match. But these rankings don’t seem to be going away and they do create incentives for schools. If the Obama administration is serious about increasing the incentives for schools to allocate resources to financial aid, encouraging U.S.News and World Report to change its rankings would help. A phone call from President Obama just might accomplish this.
1st-time undergrads receiving
local or institutional grants
Steve Masiello, head men's basketball coach at Manhattan College, lost a bid to become head coach at the University of South Florida when that institution -- and then Manhattan -- found out he lacked the bachelor's degree he claimed to have from the University of Kentucky. Manhattan placed him on leave. But the college announced Monday that if Masiello completes his bachelor's degree, which officials said was doable, he could have his old job back.
In a statement, Masiello said: “I am extremely grateful and humbled by the opportunity to continue as the head men’s basketball coach at Manhattan College. I made a mistake that could have cost me my job at an institution I love. Details matter. Manhattan College has shown me a great deal of compassion and trust during this process, and I will do everything in my power to uphold that trust. I understand that I am very fortunate to have the chance to remain here at Manhattan.”
Students, alumni and others are rallying behind Patricia Prechter, whom they say was ousted unfairly as head of the nursing program at Our Lady of the Holy Cross College, in Louisiana. The college says simply that she resigned. But The Times-Picayune reported on email messages between Prechter, who had also been serving as provost, and President Ronald Ambrosetti. In the emails, Prechter says that she was trying to resign as provost to focus more of her attention on the nursing program. She said she had long worked in the nursing program and took on the provost's job in 2011 at the request of the nuns who run the college. She said she could no longer do two full-time jobs and so was giving up the provost's position. But the president said that in leaving that job, she was resigning from all employment.
An online petition seeking her reinstatement at the nursing program says in part: "Dr. Prechter is also the heart and soul of the OLHCC community. She maintains an 'open door' policy that allows students to approach her with their needs as they arise. She is a student advocate for not only the students in the nursing department, but also for students throughout the OLHCC community."
With a threat by the faculty union at Portland State University to strike on April 16 looming, the union and administration reached a deal on a new contract on Sunday, ending months of highly contentious negotiations. A press release from the union -- part of the American Association of University Professors -- said that deal provides raises for all professors and key advances for full-time, non-tenure-track professors. According to the AAUP, the contract will create a path for long-term contracts for 80 percent of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members, up from the present 45 percent. And these long-term contracts will be available after four years, not the current six years. The Oregonian characterized the raises in the deal as more "than the administration had said it could possibly afford, but substantially less than the union had sought." A statement from the university quoted President Wim Wiewel as calling the deal "fiscally responsible."