Quick Takes: Charles Miller Unshackled, UCLA Alters Admissions Process, Faculty Studs and Other Ivy News, Golf Doctorates

September 29, 2006
  • It may not have seemed that way at times, but Charles Miller, the chairman of the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, apparently felt constrained in what he could say during his time at the helm of the panel. In a letter containing "personal observations" about higher education, which he shared with Secretary Margaret Spellings when he formally gave her the panel's final report this month and shared in public at a forum at the Cato Institute Wednesday, Miller makes many of the same points about higher education's problems that he did when he spoke up during the commission's deliberations. But he adopts tougher language in some cases, referring repeatedly to the "dysfunctional" nature of higher education finances and describing higher education as being "replete with opaque, complex information systems which are not informative for governing boards, policymakers and the public." And while Miller continues to criticize private colleges for their "special resistance to accountability," a theme he hit repeatedly during the commission's life, he takes special aim at the nation's elite research universities, which largely escaped his wrath over the last year. Because their "research expenditures are a major 'cost driver' in higher education," he wrote in his letter to the secretary, those institutions "need the same intense examination and skeptical analysis other financial issues require, especially since most of these are public funds." He added: "I think there is ample evidence that our great universities have much to account for---and have great intellectual and financial resources to contribute---yet often come to the public arena without taking full responsibility for their own imperfections while at the same time demanding more of the scarce public resources."   
  • The University of California at Los Angeles formally announced Thursday that it would alter its admissions process so that all applicants would be reviewed using a broader base of criteria. The university's new approach comes in the wake of a steep decline in the enrollment of black students, although UCLA officials insist that the new process will in every way be consistent with Proposition 209, a state law barring the use of racial preferences.
  • Two new blogs have been competing against one another in Ivy League gossip. IvyGate is currently featuring a contest of "Faculty Studs and Tenured Temptresses," in which six male and six female professors are vying (almost certainly against their will) for those titles. Two of the male contestants have been teaching at their institutions since the 1960s. IvyLeak meanwhile is featuring analysis of why the Yale-Cornell football game has fallen on either Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur in three of the last four years, and has suggested that the match be renamed the "High Holiday Bowl."
  • Faculty leaders at University College Dublin are upset that the university awarded honorary doctorates to six golfers last week, The Guardian reported. The doctorates were awarded at the K Club in County Kildare, host for the 2006 Ryder Cub. The university's statement on the doctorates noted that the institution awards more scholarships for golfers than any other Irish university.
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