Yesterday my daughter – a graduate student in social work at the University of Michigan, with enough student loans for a down payment on a modest Ann Arbor house – asked me what I thought about the university’s $35 million (not counting various add-ons) contract agreement with its new football coach, Jim Harbaugh. Having closely followed the continuing dramatic rise in college football and basketball coach compensation levels, I wasn’t particularly surprised.
Some observers would argue that Harbaugh -- after wildly successful head coaching stints at Stanford and with the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers -- was not merely a candidate for the job, but the only candidate. A three-year starter at quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist for the Wolverines, he was known for a fiery demeanor and competitive streak that matched his coach, the legendary Bo Schembechler.
When asked about Michigan’s chances against Ohio State in a 1986 game that would decide the Big Ten champion and Rose Bowl representative, Harbaugh guaranteed victory, defiantly declaring, “It’s a great feeling to beat Ohio State and we’re going to have that feeling Saturday. I don't care where we play the game. I hate to say it, but we could play it in the parking lot. We could play the game at 12 noon or midnight.” (Michigan went on to win the game.)
The label “favorite son” might be an understatement in how the Michigan faithful view Harbaugh. Given the hard times that have befallen the university’s storied football program, some prefer “savior.”
Enter the newly inaugurated Michigan president Mark Schlissel, who may believe that since assuming his present position, he has arrived in some sort of alternate universe. Schlissel, a physician by training, came to Ann Arbor after a stint as the provost at (in terms of athletics, the comparatively pristine) Brown University, where a typical home football game attracts around 4,000 spectators. As Michigan fans would see it, that’s a decent tailgate turnout.
Schlissel had barely gotten comfortable in his new office chair before realizing that his first challenge wasn’t raising money for one of Michigan’s nationally renowned academic programs or providing leadership to attract world class faculty, but rather dealing with – gasp – a now competitively mediocre football program.
Early in his tenure, Schlissel – perhaps thinking he was still in Providence, not Ann Arbor – addressed the university’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs. He raised concerns about various academic issues relating to athletics, including graduation rates of football players and lowered admission standards for athletes – issues that should be on the mind of any president whose school sponsors Division I football and basketball.
But faster than you could say “Go Blue,” Schlissel – under pressure from various constituencies – reversed field, apologizing to then-head football coach Brady Hoke and to Michigan coaches and athletes en masse, while offering a “clarification” of his previous remarks. Weeks later, answering a question on the search for a new Michigan athletics director, a somewhat shell-shocked Schlissel remarked, “I've really learned that this whole athletic sphere and the usual way you approach things just doesn't work.”
What Schlissel really learned is what we have known for some time. One reason college athletic reform has never taken hold is because the very people responsible for making sure academics and research are the university’s highest priorities simply aren’t in charge.
One wonders how hard Schissel had to swallow before agreeing to pay Harbaugh an annual salary of $5 million – roughly seven times what Schissel is paid to lead the entire university. And does anyone really believe that Harbaugh – as competitive/Type A as they come among his coaching peers – agreed to come to Michigan without some assurances from the university regarding “flexibility” in admissions standards for football players?
In 2004, the esteemed Yale scholar Richard Brodhead assumed the presidency of Duke University. On one of his first days in office, Brodhead was advised that Duke’s legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was being wooed by the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Brodhead was advised that he had to do everything in his power to convince Krzyzewski to stay in Durham – that Coach K’s departure would do irreparable damage to the university and surely doom his presidency. Brodhead complied, going as far as to join students in “Coach K, please stay” chants and to help fill a human chain forming the letter “K” outside the building that housed Krzyzewski’s office.
Ten years later, Schissel finds himself in a similar position. When it comes to athletics, very few new university leaders have any idea of what they are getting into. Athletic departments are so financially leveraged that presidents often feel obligated to grant the wishes of fan bases and powerful donors, some of them trustees with far more interest in attracting top coaches than renowned teachers and researchers.
And if history is any indicator in the spend all you make world of college sports, an infusion of cash from the $7.3 billion ESPN college football playoff television contract will not likely lessen this dependency.
Make no mistake about it, if Jim Harbaugh returns Michigan to gridiron glory he -- like Krzyzewski at Duke -- will report to no one at the University of Michigan except himself.
Bob Malekoff is a lecturer in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Some University of Oregon football players celebrated their Rose Bowl win Thursday night by singing "No Means No" to the tune of the war chant of the Florida State University Seminoles, the team Oregon had just defeated, Sports Illustrated reported. The chant was not seen as a sign of understanding the importance of respecting the rights of women, but as a way to mock Florida State's star quarterback, Jameis Winston, whom a woman accused of sexual assault in 2012. Authorities didn't bring charges against him and Florida State cleared him of violating student conduct rules, but many have questioned whether the local police and the university properly investigated the charges, which Winston has denied. Oregon's coach, Mark Helfrich, released a statement about the post-game chant. "We are aware of the inappropriate behavior in the postgame," he said. "This is not what our programs stand for, and the student-athletes will be disciplined internally." The University of Oregon has also faced criticism about allegations involving athletes and sexual assault. In June, the university suspended three former men's basketball players from campus for as long as a woman who says they sexually assaulted her remains on campus.
The Lumina Foundation and Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Education will be taking over the important Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Lumina announced that its Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) will inform the 2015 edition of the classification. This development is yet another step away from the original intent of the classification -- to provide an objective and easy-to-understand categorization of American postsecondary institutions.
In recent years, the Carnegie Foundation made its categories more complex: in part to suit the foundation’s specific policy orientations at the time, and in part to reflect the increased complexity of higher education institutions. As a result, the classification became less useful as an easy yet reasonably accurate and objective way to understand the shape of the system, and the roles of more than 4,500 individual postsecondary institutions.
Among the great advantages of the original classification were its simplicity and its objectivity, and the fact that it did not rank institutions but rather put them into recognizable categories. Unlike the U.S. News and World Report and other rankings, the Carnegie Classification did not use reputational measures—asking academics and administrators to rank competing colleges and universities. It relied entirely on objective data.
It is not clear how the classification’s new sponsors will change its basic orientation, and its new director says that the 2015 version will not be fundamentally altered. Yet, given Lumina’s strong emphasis on access, equity, and degree completion, as well as designing a new national credential framework — highly laudable goals of course — it is likely that the classification in the longer term will be shaped to be aligned with Lumina’s policy agenda, as it was more subtly changed in its later Carnegie years.
The original Carnegie Classification contributed immensely to clarifying the role of postsecondary institutions and made it possible for policy-makers as well as individuals in the United States and abroad to basically understand the American higher education landscape as a whole and see where each institution fit in it. The classification was also quite useful internationally — it provided a roadmap to America’s many kinds of academic institutions. An overseas institution interested in working with a research university, a community college, or a drama school could easily locate a suitable partner. We are likely to lose this valuable resource.
A Historical Perspective
The classification dates back to 1973, when the legendary Clark Kerr, having devised the California Master Plan a decade earlier and leading the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, wanted to get a sense of America’s diverse and at the time rapidly expanding higher education landscape. The original classification broadly resembled Kerr’s vision of a differentiated higher education system, with different kinds of institutions serving varied goals, needs, and constituencies. It included only five categories of institutions — doctoral granting, comprehensive universities and colleges, liberal arts colleges, two-year colleges and institutes, and professional schools and other specialized institutions, along with several subcategories.
Because the classification was the first effort to categorize the system, it quickly became influential — policy-makers valued an objective data based categorization of institutions and academic leaders found it useful to understand where their own institutions fit. The classification had the advantage of simplicity, and its sponsor was trusted as neutral. Although the classification was not a ranking — it listed institutions by category in alphabetical order, many came to see it in competitive terms. Some universities wanted to join the ranks of the subcategory of “research university–I,” those institutions that had the largest research budgets and offered the most doctoral degrees — and were overjoyed when their institution was listed in that category. Similarly, the most selective liberal arts colleges were in “liberal arts colleges–I,” and many wanted to join that group. Over time, the classification became a kind of informal measure, if not of rank, at least of academic status.
Fiddling and Changing
The classification’s categories and methodology remained quite stable over several decades of major transformation in American higher education. In 2005, with new leadership at the Carnegie Foundation, major changes were introduced. Foundation leaders argued that the realities of American higher education required rethinking the methodology. It is also likely that the foundation’s focus changed and it wanted to shape the classification to serve its new orientation and support its policy foci. The foundation revised the basic classification, added new categories such as instructional programs, student enrollment profiles, and others. The classification became significantly more complex, and over time became less influential. People found that the new categories confused the basic purpose of the classification and introduced variable that did not seem entirely relevant. The basic simplicity was compromised. Indeed, people still refer to “Carnegie Research 1” (top research universities) even though they have not existed in the Carnegie lexicon for two decades.
There may well be more fiddling — the U.S. federal government’s desire to rank postsecondary institutions by cost and degree completion rates may add a further dimension to the enterprise. A further dilemma is the role of the for-profit higher education sector — these entities are fundamentally different in their orientations and management from traditional non-profit institutions — so also are the new online degree providers. Should these new additions to the higher education landscape be included in the classification? These elements will contribute to “classification creep” — a bad idea.
What Is Really Needed
It is surprising that, in the four decades since Clark Kerr conceptualized the Carnegie Classification, no one has stepped forward to provide a clear and reasonably objective and comprehensive guide to the more than 4,500 postsecondary institutions in the United States. Resurrecting the basic purpose and organization of Kerr’s original Carnegie Classification is not rocket science, nor would it be extraordinarily expensive.
It is of course true that the postsecondary education has become more complex. How would one deal with the for-profit sector? Probably by adding a special category for them. Many community colleges now offer four-year bachelors degrees, but their basic purpose and organization has not essentially changed. There are a larger number of specialized institutions, and many colleges and universities have expanded and diversified their degree and other offerings. Technology has to some extent become part of teaching programs of some postsecondary institutions — and the MOOC revolution continues to unfold. Research productivity has grown dramatically, and research is reported in more ways. Intellectual property of all kinds has become more central to the academic enterprise — at least in the research university sector.
Yet, the basic elements of the original classification — those that help to determine the main purposes and functions of postsecondary institutions — remain largely unchanged, if somewhat more complicated to describe. The key metrics are clear enough:
Types of degrees offered
Number of faculty, full-time and part-time
Income from research and intellectual property
Internationalization as measured by student mobility.
A few more might be added — but again, simplicity is the watchword.
The types of institutions — six main and eight major subcategories — seem about right. These might be expanded somewhat to accommodate the growth in complexity and diversity of the system. Later iterations confusingly expanded the categories, in part to reflect the policy and philosophical orientations of the foundation. The basic purpose of the classification will be best served by keeping the institutional typology as simple and straightforward as possible.
While it is clear that these metrics may not provide a sophisticated or complete measure of each institution — and they require additional definitions — they will provide basic information that will make reasonably categorization possible. They lack the philosophical and policy orientations that have crept into the Carnegie Classification in recent years, and return the enterprise to its original purpose — describing the richness, diversity, and complexity of the American higher education landscape.
Philip G. Altbach is research professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College.
The president of American Atheists has demanded that the chancellor of a public university apologize for sending an email to all students and employees with a video that argues that democracy requires religion, AL.com reported. Chancellor Jack Hawkins of Troy University, in Alabama, sent out a video (below) featuring Clay Christensen in which he argues that democracy requires a religious society. Christensen is a prominent business professor at Harvard University, and the video is below.
The letter from American Atheists said that it was being sent on behalf of a student at Troy who was concerned after receiving the email from the chancellor. "On behalf of the student who contacted us, the Alabama members of American Atheists, the thousands of atheists at Troy University, and the hundreds of millions of atheists worldwide who live productive, law-abiding lives without religion, we demand an apology from you for using the public university email system and your publicly funded position to disparage atheists and minority religious groups as well as perpetuating the discrimination and anti-patriotic sentiment against atheists in the United States," the letter said.
UPDATE: Troy sent Inside Higher Ed this statement on Friday: "The purpose of this email was to spur introspection and encourage thoughtful discussion as we transition from the challenges of 2014 to the opportunities ahead in 2015. Troy University is an international university that contributes regularly to the global marketplace of ideas. This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward."
Oregon State University this year apologized for not taking seriously allegations of a gang rape made by a woman about four men, two of them Oregon State football players, in 1998. The Oregonian revived interest in the case with an interview this year with the woman who brought the charges. And that led the university to apologize, and to note how difficult it would be today to revive the case in any legal sense. A new article in the newspaper details just how much information Oregon State had at the time the charges were first made (it turns out a very detailed account), and why no prosecutions took place. A summary from the article puts it this way:
"The school never responded after she reported the assault. Pervasive conflicts of interest clouded judgment. The betrayal included hasty and questionable decisions made by local police and the district attorney's office. Evidence was destroyed years before the statute of limitations expired -- despite the strong urging by a deputy district attorney to preserve it. OSU insiders acknowledged problems in the way sex assaults were reported and handled back then, but no one seemed to care deeply enough about Tracy [the woman who made the charges, and who spoke to the newspaper with her name] to do anything about it. Officials involved portrayed a campus administration consumed with fundraising and with protecting its own image as it tiptoed around the controversy."
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed Wednesday that it is seeking to fire Jeanette Boxill, former chair of the Faculty Council, for her role in a scandal in which athletes and some other students were steered to phony courses in which they were assured of good grades. The depth of the scandal stunned UNC, and Boxill's involvement has been particularly upsetting to many there. A report released in October found that, as an adviser for women's basketball players, Boxill steered students to fake courses with suggestions about what grades they needed.
UNC officials have resisted until now revealing the disciplinary actions they were taking until all appeals had been exhausted. But facing lawsuits from media organizations, the university agreed to reveal those who have been fired or who the university is seeking to fire, including Boxill. The university statement said that Boxill still has an appeal pending. But the statement said that revealing the punishment being sought was appropriate. "In light of the extraordinary circumstances underlying the longstanding and intolerable academic irregularities ..., as well as her role as chair of the faculty council during a period of time [in which the fake courses were offered], the chancellor has determined that in order to preserve the university’s integrity, it is necessary to disclose that, on October 22, 2014, the University informed faculty member Jeanette Boxill, Ph.D., of an intent to terminate her employment based on evidence accompanying the report. Dr. Boxill responded by requesting a hearing before a committee of the faculty — a decision we fully respect. While that process is pending, and after extensive reflection and deliberation, the chancellor determined that disclosing this information relating to Dr. Boxill is necessary to maintaining the level and quality of services Carolina provides as well as our integrity as we continue to move forward."
Boxill did not respond to an email from Inside Higher Ed.
Submitted by Jake New on December 30, 2014 - 5:03pm
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Tuesday a bill that bans college athletes at public universities from joining unions. The legislation, which passed the Michigan Senate earlier this month, requires all college athletes to be classified as "students," preventing them from being classified as employees.
There's been no indication that such an attempt to unionize was taking place at Michigan's public universities, and the legislation was apparently in response to the ongoing unionization efforts of athletes at Northwestern University, a private university in Illinois. (The National Labor Relations Board oversees unionization issues at private institutions, but states govern unionization rules for state employees.) “The Republican Legislature has done so much union busting over the years that now they've resorted to busting unions that don’t even exist," a spokesman for Progress Michigan, a progressive marketing group, told Michigan Live.
Georgia legislators have been boasting about a new ethics law that imposes strict reporting requirements on lobbyists and bars lawmakers from accepting anything worth more than $75. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the new law exempts interactions with the public higher education system. As a result, public universities have been able to continue to lobby (without reporting on their activities) and to provide valuable gifts in the form of tickets to athletic events and expensive meals. During the fall, universities spent more than $20,000 on football tickets and meals and other events on game days.
Speaker of the House David Ralston, a Republican, defended the exemption for higher education. "These state employees serve as an informational resource to legislators on matters pertaining to state government operations which occasionally may include meetings or site visits to public institution,” he said.