Higher Education Quick Takes
California legislators have affirmed in drafts of the state budget that the University of California may not spend state funds on athletics. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the move followed a request by the university to ease a previous ban. University officials said that they made the request for bookkeeping reasons, and not out of any desire to spend state funds on athletics. But after Brian Barsky, a computer science professor at the Berkeley campus, noticed and criticized the request, lawmakers explicitly banned any state spending on athletics.
The Nassau Community College Academic Senate voted last week to declare its lack of confidence in President Donald P. Astrab. The move followed a decision by the college's trustees to renew Astrab's contract despite faculty objections. Kimberley Reiser, chair of the Academic Senate, said in a statement: "Many of the faculty expressed concern that the president used the current budget crisis as an excuse to impose an autocratic management style, disregard faculty advice in areas of their expertise, seek to diminish academic standards, create a new management structure that was inconsistent and non-communicative, and effect an illusion of consultation."
The college issued statements from the board defending the renewal of the president's contract, and from Astrab. His statement said: "Recognizing the fiscal challenges ahead of us, one of the first things I did upon becoming president was to establish budget task forces that included membership from every campus constituency in order to engage them in the process and solicit their ideas. Since then, my days and weeks at the college have been filled with continuous meetings with the various component parts of the 'academic side of the house.' State law envisions faculty input, and I respect that. But it also makes clear that it is the college’s Board of Trustees that establishes college policy."
First-year enrollment in M.D. programs is projected to increase 2 percent this year, according to a report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, which said that medical schools are currently on track to increase first-year enrollments by 27.6 percent beyond 2002 levels by 2015. The association had set a goal of a 30 percent increase by that time. Despite the progress, the AAMC noted that a growing number of medical colleges are reporting concerns about their ability to continue enrollment increases in light of tight budgets.
Osteopathic medical schools are projecting 5,716 first-year matriculants in fall 2011, up 8.5 percent, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has refused, 9 to 7, to consider an appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the court to uphold the consideration of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas. The panel's ruling, in January, rejected an argument that the state had shown it could use the "10 percent plan" -- in which all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes are admitted -- to promote diversity without the consideration of race. The decision cited various flaws in the plan, and types of diversity that may not be produced by it.
As is the norm, the judges who voted not to reconsider the case did not issue any statement on their thinking. Five of the judges who would have heard the case issued a dissent expressing strong doubts about the panel's decision. These judges said that the three-judge panel had adopted "a new 'serious good faith consideration' standard of review, watering down" the Supreme Court's requirement for consideration of race only with "strict narrow tailoring. Second, it authorizes the university’s race-conscious admissions program although a race-neutral state law (the Top Ten Percent Law) had already fostered increased campus racial diversity. Finally, the panel appears to countenance an unachievable and unrealistic goal of racial diversity at the classroom level to support the university’s race-conscious policy,"
The plaintiffs who challenged the University of Texas policies still have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The University System of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved a continuation of Salisbury University's policy -- first adopted five years ago as a pilot -- of letting students who graduate from high school with a 3.5 or higher grade point average opt out of submitting an SAT or ACT score. A study done by the university found that students who enrolled without submitting test scores outperformed those who submitted them in course completion and graduation rates, while the two groups were similar in grade-point averages at the university.
Donations to education increased by 5.2 percent in 2010 (3.5 percent when adjusted for inflation), according to "Giving USA," an annual report released today. The report notes that giving to elementary and secondary schools, and to colleges, rebounded in the late part of the year. The rate of growth for education exceeds that for all charitable giving for the year -- 3.8 percent (or 2.1 percent adjusted for inflation).
The College Board is today launching a new campaign to promote educational attainment and economic success of young minority males. The effort starts with the release of two reports -- one summarizing statistics and research, and the other featuring interviews with young minority males. A statistic that dramatizes the extent of the problem: Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.
The University of Alberta announced Friday that Philip Baker is stepping down as medical dean (although staying on as a professor). The move follows a dispute over his speech to graduates this month -- a talk that students discovered was nearly identical to one that Atul Gawande, a surgeon, gave to Stanford University medical students last year. Gawande's speech was subsequently republished in The New Yorker, and students said that one of the few changes made by Baker was leaving out a few lines about the U.S. Medicare system. In a statement Friday, Baker said he did not want to detract from the accomplishments of the graduating class. "My hope is that the university and the faculty will be able to put this unfortunate incident behind them, and that this will bring closure for the university, the faculty and my family," he said.
At a time of scrutiny for Ohio State University athletes, including questions about some athletes' alleged use of free cars, WBNS-10TV News reported that Ohio State's athletics director and director of compliance for athletes both have "courtesy" cars provided by local dealers. While the cars for the sports officials do not violate rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, some observers said it was odd for the university to have officials charged with preventing the use of free cars driving them. Bret Adams, a sports agent, told the station: "I don't understand why -- given the scrutiny that is happening at Ohio State -- why the compliance office would risk this relationship?"