Quick Takes: Crow Vows Limited Use of Rankings in Contract, Escalating Criticism of Florida A

March 20, 2007
  • Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, said in an interview Monday that use of U.S. News & World Report rankings as part of his incentive bonus plan would be limited and would not involve the overall rankings, but just three categories collected by the magazine. Crow said it had been "a mistake" for his revised contract to refer only to improving the university's standing. Word that Crow could have as much as $60,000 in his compensation tied to the rankings worried some critics of the rankings and experts on presidential compensation. He said that when the contract is fleshed out, it would make clear that he would be judged only on three measures he thinks are valid: graduation rates, resources for faculty members, and graduation rates compared to predicted rates based on various factors. If Arizona State does well in other parts of the rankings, but not those categories, Crow said he would not be rewarded. Likewise, if the university improves in those categories, but not others, Crow said he would benefit. Crow said that the magazine was used "as shorthand," and that he regretted that. He acknowledged frustration with the rankings, which tend not to favor institutions like Arizona State that are not selective in admissions. "To know that you have a great university, that you have faculty doing great things and to have that thing whack you along the way is disturbing," Crow said.
  • Florida legislators are stepping up criticism of Florida A&M University, a historically black institution that has faced a series of financial crises. At a hearing Monday, legislators complained that they were tired of plans to send in new accounting teams, and wanted more formal probes into problems, with one legislator going so far as to suggest abolishing the institution, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. Hundreds of part-time employees have missed paychecks at the university, the newspaper said.
  • Dallas Martin, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, has written a letter to Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York, criticizing the way he has framed his investigation of the practices of some providers of student loans. Last week, Cuomo criticized "an unholy alliance between banks and institutions of higher education that may often not be in the students’ best interest." In his letter, Martin said of his members: "They play by the rules. They are ethical. They don't cut corners. They don't take bribes." Cuomo has "dishonored their good names," Martin wrote, adding that the attorney general's rhetoric appears "designed to inflame rather than to inform."
  • Boston University is stepping up efforts to promote fire prevention in off-campus housing, in the wake of two fatal fires in the last month, The Boston Globe reported.
  • Fisk University has potential buyers willing to pay up to $20 million for Georgia O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building" painting, but it is unclear if the university can accept those offers, The Tennessean reported. The university, a historically black institution with a great collection of modern art but not much of an endowment, wants to sell some of its art, but agreed to try to find a way to raise money without selling the paintings. The university has previously pledged, if it can't find a suitable way to keep the painting in Nashville, to sell it to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum for $7 million. Disputes over Fisk's plans have spurred a national debate on whether colleges should ever sell important works of art.
  • A student at Canada's Lakehead University is charging that U.S. officials detained him and seized a laptop computer when he arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, Canadian Press reported. Mahmoud Zeitoun, who is president of the Muslim Student Association at his institution, said he fears he will fail a course because of the work lost on the laptop. A customs officials told the wire service that he could not talk about the case, but that treatment like that described by Zeitoun is "not normal" for Canadians.
  • The Communist Party USA is donating a huge collection of its documents to New York University, potentially enabling scholars to have a deeper understanding of the movement and to settle many long-standing disputes, The New York Times reported.
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