administrators

Study: Football Success Boosts Applications (With a Caveat)

A successful football season causes a 17.7 percent boost in applications to an institution, but the increase is more apparent among lower-achieving students (as measured by SAT scores), according to a new paper published in the journal Marketing Science. However, victories on the field do correlate with higher selectivity, with mid-level institutions improving their admission of students with average SAT scores by 4.8 percent, wrote Doug J. Chung, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard University. To achieve a comparable bump in applications, a university would have to either decrease tuition by 3.8 percent or increase the quality of its education by recruiting higher-quality faculty who are paid 5.1 percent more, Chung said.
 

Marshall Faculty Votes No Confidence in President

Faculty members at Marshall University passed a vote of no confidence Wednesday in President Stephen Kopp. Of the 420 faculty members who participated, 290 voted no confidence, 107 voted in support of Kopp, and 23 abstained. The vote at the West Virginia public university comes in the wake of Kopp’s decision to move funds from departmental accounts to a central account to analyze revenues and expenditures, a move that generated a backlash among faculty members. Kopp previously apologized and returned the funds.

In the wake of the vote, Marshall’s governing board released a statement expressing its continued support for Kopp. “Dr. Kopp has succeeded in achieving the goals set by the Board of Governors for Marshall University and he has exceeded the board’s performance expectations in numerous areas,” the board chairman Joseph B. Touma wrote in a letter released Wednesday after the vote. “The board also believes that he is the right person to keep our great university moving in the right direction.”

The lack of administrative reaction is similar to other recent votes of no confidence at New York University, Saint Louis University and Louisiana State University.

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Tighter College Rules on Attention-Deficit Drugs

Amid widespread reports of increased numbers of college students taking (and, in some cases, abusing) medication for attention-deficit disorders, some colleges are cracking down, The New York Times reported. These institutions are becoming more rigorous in their evaluations of students, and making it more difficult for students to obtain diagnoses that lead to drug prescriptions.

 

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U. of Texas Alumni Launch New Video Against Governor's Influence

Alumni of the University of Texas at Austin have launched a new video criticizing the way regents appointed by Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, have put pressure on the university. The alumni (in a view shared by many faculty members) argue that the regents are endangering the university's quality and have politicized discussions of higher education. The video, "Wake Up Longhorns," appeals to the pride of alumni by quoting from the fight song of Texas A&M University, Governor Perry's alma mater. Ray Sullivan, Perry's former chief of staff, told The Texas Tribune by e-mail: "I've long thought that the small but vocal status quo/anti-reform forces at UT-Austin were motivated by profound elitism and deep paranoia and hatred of Aggies. Especially against the state's top elected Aggie who has worked hard to improve the infrastructure, effectiveness and economic impact of UT. This proves it."

Here is the video:

 

 

 

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Instructors say anti-hazing push led to termination

Two former instructors at Young Harris College sue their institution, saying they lost their jobs for challenging a pervasive hazing culture.

President Quits at Campus Criticized for Response to Attack

George Wasson on Monday resigned as president of the Meramec campus of the St. Louis Community College, effective immediately, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The college has been under intense criticism for its handling of an assault on a female student. The alleged attacker -- who has since been arrested -- was originally released with just a verbal warning, infuriating not only the victim and her family, but many others on the campus.

 

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New presidents provosts: Columbia Chicago McDaniel NCCU Southern Miss Southwestern UC-Denver USciences UT-Arlington

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3 Colleges Take Disgraced Politician's Name Off Buildings

Three Pennsylvania institutions -- Marywood University, Keystone College and Lackawanna College -- have removed Robert J. Mellow's name from their buildings, The Times Leader reported. Mellow was previously a powerful state legislator. But he is now in jail, after he pleaded guilty last year to under-reporting his income for his 2008 tax return, and committing mail fraud by using his Senate staff members to perform political duties for himself and others.

 

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Colleges can't wait for systemic reform, must make changes now (essay)

The world still comes to the United States for higher education. Our elite institutions are the best in the world. Historically, we have done a better job of providing quality education to tens of millions of people than almost any other country on earth.

Yet we’re slipping. Simply put, our graduation rates are too low, our costs are too high, and too many students are slipping through the cracks. Reformers -- and universities themselves -- grasp these realities and want wholesale changes that will fundamentally alter how we think about higher education.

Those long-term battles are important, even necessary. New innovations in distance learning and nontraditional degrees may provide new pathways for students. But such changes may take decades. In the meantime, we have millions of college students taking on ever-higher debt loads for a long, winding road to a degree.  We need to make immediate changes to affirmatively lower costs – not just “increase affordability” – while we raise graduation rates.  We need to work within the existing framework to do what we’re already doing, but do it better and cheaper.

The good news is we have proven methods to improve our efficiency and outcomes at our postsecondary institutions.

Take student costs. Conventional wisdom focuses on high tuition costs, but there’s a related problem that’s often overlooked. Graduating from college takes most students five or even six years, while they are planning for four. That ends up an extra 25 to 50 percent in tuition costs alone, not to mention college-related fees and the opportunity cost of not working.

Institutions can directly reduce time to degree. Recent data show that “bottleneck courses,” i.e., courses where student demand outstrips available seats, play a big role in delaying degree completion.

To put it in human terms, a student who needs Biology 201 to graduate – when a seat in Biology 201 isn’t available until next year – is wasting time and money.  That dynamic is why “access to courses” consistently ranks as the biggest student complaint about higher education, according to the Noel-Levitz annual student satisfaction survey (subscription required).

The fix is relatively straightforward: offer those bottleneck courses more often. Just 5 to 10 percent of courses are responsible for the vast majority of bottlenecks, so colleges and universities can address the shortages quickly. For instance, they can ensure that their most valuable resources -- professors -- are teaching the right mix of courses to prevent bottlenecks, rather than spending limited resources on course offerings that are not needed (15-20 percent of a typical school’s schedule). Similarly, colleges can better align schedules so students don’t have to choose between two required courses, and can make sure room size is aligned to corresponding course demand.

“Quickly” is the key concept in this fix – we can save students hundreds of millions of dollars every year starting immediately.  We don’t need to wait a decade, or even a year.

Addressing bottleneck courses is one of the clearest examples of changes we can make to address the problems in higher education immediately, but it is far from the only one.  The two below, for instance, lead to real savings right away, but are easy to overlook:

  • Extensive data show that better allocation of academic space – i.e., which courses are scheduled in which classrooms at which times – is an overlooked yet vital cost issue. Better allocation of classroom resources – identifying and addressing primetime bottlenecks by focusing on room ownership, meeting pattern efficiency and last-minute cancellation, etc. – can postpone or even cancel entire expensive classroom construction projects.  (Full disclosure: Ad Astra Information Systems, where Tom Shaver serves as CEO, are providing university leaders with data-based solutions that help them make these important resource allocation decisions.)
  • College bookstores can adopt software enabling students to take advantage of economies of scale and get their expensive textbooks for vastly reduced costs (One of us wrote an op-ed on this subject in The Hill).

There are, of course, hundreds of other solutions we can adopt right away. These solutions represent just a few ideas that directly address the nuts and bolts of providing courses to thousands of students on a single campus. These solutions aren’t glamorous. They’ll never make the front page of The New York Times or be the subject of a TED talk. 

Yet they are key operational concerns that save real money. One large community college in the Northeast better aligned its faculty and classroom resources to offer more of the most oversubscribed courses, allowing it to enroll hundreds more students without committing new funding.  All told, it improved its balance sheet by over $1.7 million in a single year. A community college system in the Midwest took a similar approach and has improved its fiscal outlook by almost $3 million in just three years. Multiply those figures by the approximately 3,000 institutions of higher education in this country, and you are looking at tremendous savings for students – and for institutions.

Will these changes singlehandedly fix the deep-seated and complicated fiscal issues afflicting our higher education system? Probably not. But can these solutions -- and others like them -- vastly improve the higher education experience for both students and institutions?  There is no question they can.

In an era defined by a $16 trillion federal debt and states across the country struggling with multibillion-dollar shortfalls, we are going to see an unfortunate but inevitable reduction in government funding for higher education.  Colleges are facing this reality today.  They cannot afford to wait for next-generation solutions. They need this-generation solutions. Millions of students’ futures depend on it.

Gene Hickok is the former deputy U.S. secretary of education and a senior adviser at Whiteboard Advisors; Tom Shaver is CEO of Ad Astra Information Systems, a company using data mining technology to help colleges and universities improve student access and lower costs.

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Bribery Charges Against Former University Administrator

Robert Shearer, formerly the director of environmental health and occupational safety at San Francisco State University, has been charged with 128 felonies related to allegedly taking bribes to award a waste-disposal contract that cost the institution millions of dollars, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The bribes allegedly included $183,000, plane tickets for international travel and a Volvo. Shearer has appeared in court, but has not entered a plea in the case.

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