administrators

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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Cooper Union, Free Since 1902, Will Charge Undergrads

The Cooper Union, an art, engineering and design college in New York City, announced Tuesday that its board voted to charge tuition to undergraduates for the first time since 1902. That decision is likely to spark controversy among the institution's alumni, who have been fighting the idea since it was raised in 2011. The college will cut in half the full tuition scholarships it offers its students starting in the fall of 2014, leaving a tuition bill of about $20,000 a year, but administrators said they would continue to provide need-based aid, including full tuition scholarships for students eligible for federal Pell Grants.

The move toward charging tuition began 18 months ago, when newly installed Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha announced that the college would seek new revenues to make up for an escalating structural deficit that had grown to about a quarter of the institution's operating budget. The deficit was driven by a combination of an increase in the cost of educating students and a decrease in the average return on the institution's endowment, which includes rents on the Chrysler Building.

A year ago Bharucha announced that the college could start a series of fee-based graduate, online and continuing education programs, as well as ramp up fund-raising, to generate the needed revenue. But given the size of the deficit and the minimal revenue potential of those programs, many Cooper Union students and alumni felt like the college was moving toward charging undergraduates.

 

New presidents provosts Bridgewater Lawrence Lincoln McDaniel Millersville OWU State College Fla. Georgia

  • John M. Anderson, president of Alfred State College, in New York, has been chosen as president of Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
  • Mark Burstein, executive vice president of Princeton University, in New Jersey, has been named president of Lawrence University, in Wisconsin.

Under Plan, California Would Embrace Performance-Based Funding For Colleges

California would move aggressively into performance-based funding for higher education under a draft plan being circulated by Governor Jerry Brown, the Los Angeles Times reported. Under the draft of a revised budget blueprint for higher education, which the newspaper obtained weeks before the governor is due to release it, the state would provide annual budget increases of 4 or 5 percent over the next several years, but tie the money to meeting goals such as significant increases in the number of students transferring from community colleges to public universities and in graduation rates, the Times reported. University officials responded coolly to the reported plan, with one saying: "We'd like to go back to the drawing board."

ACC Presidents' Vote Could Put Brakes on Conference Merry-Go-Round

The presidents of the 15 universities that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference said Monday that they had signed a "grant of rights" that would effectively block any of them from leaving the conference for 15 years, which could slow what has been an overheated series of conference-switching moves. The agreement would mean that any institution that left the conference would forfeit to the ACC its rights to television and other media payments over that period, which would presumably block any of the institutions from leaving for a better deal from another conference. The fact that the Atlantic Coast has joined several other major conferences in signing such agreements, according to Sports Illustrated, reduces the likelihood of major league swapping, although other conference could still be raided by the ACC, Big Ten and Pacific-10 leagues.

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Princeton Names Provost as Next President

Princeton University on Sunday named Christopher L. Eisgruber, provost for the past nine years, as the university's next president, effective July 1. He will succeeds Shirley M. Tilghman, who is stepping down after 12 years in office. Eisgruber joined the Princeton faculty in 2001 as director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values.

 

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U. of North Carolina panel weighs future of college sports

Higher education and athletics leaders explore ways to adapt to today’s commercialized environment, with the most controversial suggestion -- turning program management over to ADs -- coming from a university chancellor.

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