Higher Education Quick Takes
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 board that governs the Oregon University System has extended the contract of the president of the University of Oregon -- but only for a year, and after telling him that he needed to be more of a team player, The Oregonian reported. Richard W. Lariviere has pushed a controversial plan designed to limit state support for the institution in exchange for significantly more independence -- and that plan, like others in Wisconsin and elsewhere, has caused friction with other public higher education leaders. (The University of Wisconsin at Madison's chancellor, Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin, announced Tuesday that she would leave to become president of Amherst College, though she said she had not been urged to leave.) "We want his participation as a member of the team," Paul Kelly, president of the State Board of Higher Education, said of Lariviere during a telephone meeting Tuesday. In extending Lariviere's contract for one year instead of the usual two or three, board members specifically mandated that he attend meetings of his peers and participate in continuing discussions about changes in Oregon's higher education structure.
New research has found that about 40 percent of the students who drop out of four-year programs do so because their early grades give them an indication that their academic ability is not what they thought it was. The research -- by Todd Stinebrickner, an economics professor at the University of Western Ontario, and his father, Ralph Stinebrickner, a professor emeritus at Berea College -- was conducted on college students in the U.S. The findings are significant, they argue, in suggesting new approaches to reaching such students with better information -- both before and after they make college choices.
Advocates for Maryland's historically black colleges and representatives of the state have agreed to settlement discussions in a suit charging Maryland with bias against the colleges, The Baltimore Sun reported. The suit -- charging unfair treatment of the black colleges -- is five years old. Key issues in the settlement talks will be whether state funding formulas hurt black colleges, and the status of "duplicative" programs that the black colleges say the state should not have authorized at nearby predominantly white institutions.
Tihomir Petrov, a mathematics professor at California State University at Northridge, is facing two counts of urinating in a public place -- in this case on a colleague's office door. The Los Angeles Times reported that he's now a wanted man, after he failed to show up for a pre-trial hearing.
A survey of graduate program directors by the American Sociological Association has found that 17 percent believe their master's programs are very or somewhat likely to close, and another 21 percent said that their programs were "somewhat unlikely" to close. While a majority sees no immediate concern about closure, the significant minority that sees the possibility prompted analysis on funding patterns and curriculums in the master's programs.
A report being released today by the European University Association finds that international university rankings provide an “oversimplified picture," in part because their methodologies are focused on research, which is just one role of universities. The report says that rankings can promote accountability, but that the lack of transparency in rankings creates "unwanted consequences," with universities investing more in research than teaching, seeking to improve their rankings.
A new organization -- the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education -- has been launched to defend the state's higher education system from a barrage of criticism, much of it from allies of Governor Rick Perry. The new group has prominent business, political and academic leaders (Democrats and Republicans) who question the ideas being put forward by the governor's allies (some of them on boards of regents). "The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education was necessitated by the strong belief that there is a right way to improve higher education and that there is a wrong way that could have long-term damaging effects on our institutions of higher learning, our state's economy and on our future," says an announcement on the group's website. "Current recommendations being floated -- from dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition to separating research and teaching budgets, and seceding from a recognized and respected accreditation organization -- are decidedly the wrong way."