Higher Education Quick Takes
It's now complete: all five of the varsity teams that the University of California at Berkeley planned to kill or downgrade for financial reasons will now survive for the foreseeable future. The university announced last fall that it would eliminate four teams (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse) and change the status of rugby so that it was no longer a full-fledged varsity team. But in February, Berkeley said that alumni had raised enough money to restore rugby, women's gymnastics and lacrosse. A similar announcement about baseball came last month, and Monday, the university said that it had raised $2.5 million for gymnastics -- enough to keep the program alive for at least seven years with some budget cuts.
Following a faculty vote, Tufts University will note successful participation in a Reserve Officer Training Corps on graduates' final transcripts. Though Tufts does not have a ROTC unit on campus, some students train with other ROTC units in the Boston area, and that is not expected to change. But in the wake of the law authorizing the end of "don't ask, don't tell," faculty members voted to more formally acknowledge ROTC service, which has not previously been listed on transcripts. The faculty voted down a proposal that would have noted that service semester-by-semester, opting only for the designation on final transcripts.
The tornado devastation that hit Tuscaloosa last week largely ravaged non-campus areas of the Alabama college town, but it has resulted in the deaths of two students -- one from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and one from Stillman College. The campuses in town are reopening some functions today, but also have called off or delayed final exams and commencement ceremonies, given the destruction in the area. Here are links to the updates from Tuscaloosa colleges:
The impact is also being felt beyond Tuscaloosa. The University of Alabama at Huntsville, for example, is closed until Wednesday, and final exams have been suspended, because of continuing power outages.
Sunday was the official date for college applicants to let institutions that have admitted them know whether they will enroll, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling is urging institutions to be flexible in dealing with students and institutions from areas that have been hit by the natural disasters in the last week.
Ruth J. Simmons, Brown University's president, announced Friday that its board will not vote to eliminate four athletic teams later this month, and that the squads are safe for at least another year. A Brown committee, convened at Simmons’ behest, made a recommendation two weeks ago that the university eliminate the men's and women's fencing, wrestling, and women's skiing teams due to budget constraints. Since then, athletes and coaches have criticized the recommendation, arguing that a decision on the fate of their teams was being rushed through the governance process. Simmons wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff, “While delaying the decision on the outcome for these teams is not ideal, I am persuaded that the committee’s [new] recommendation to allow students to complete the semester’s work without the burden or stress of addressing this issue is sound and compassionate.” Simmons wrote that she “will return to this matter in the fall."
The Massachusetts Community College Council's Delegate Assembly voted 74 to 26 on Saturday in favor of granting part-time members a full vote in electing chapter and statewide leaders. Support for a measure to amend the MCCC's bylaws has increased in recent years and this year crossed the two-thirds majority required for adoption. Previously, each adjunct was granted one-quarter of a vote in elections of leaders.
Queen's University in Canada is ending a boycott of the international rankings of Times Higher Education, citing last year's change in methodology by the publication, and the impact of staying out of those and other international rankings. A statement from Queen's noted that appearing in international rankings is key to attracting students from China and India. The statement quoted Chris Conway, director of institutional research and planning, as saying that “Queen’s is still concerned because the rankings focus mainly on research volume and intensity, and although Queen’s is one of Canada’s top research universities, our quality undergraduate student experience and out-of-classroom experience are not fully captured."
Many law schools in recent years have increased spending on merit scholarships, hoping to attract top students and to boost rankings. But an article in The New York Times noted why some of the recipients feel that the law schools are playing a game of bait and switch. Many of the scholarships have grade-point-average requirements that recipients assume they can meet, but some of the law schools use curves on grading that make it virtually impossible for a good number of scholarship recipients to hold on to their grants. This means they end up enrolling at expensive institutions, and are faced with unexpectedly high bills their second or third years.
Last month's corrections to the National Research Council's controversial rankings of doctoral programs turned out not to fix all the errors. As early as today, the NRC will be announcing additional corrections. Data on time-to-degree and completion rates for programs in the history of art, architecture and archaeology were incorrect in the "corrected" version of the database posted last month. A spokeswoman said that the data for 57 programs have been changed as a result of discovering the error. In another correction, data for a number of Harvard University programs on "tenured faculty as a percentage of total faculty" were incorrect and are being fixed.
The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is appealing to students to stop flushing socks down the toilets of the fine arts complex, The Daily News-Miner reported. Officials say that a recent trend of sock-flushing has caused $15,000 in damage and extra labor costs. The university recently posted signs in bathrooms, asking people not to flush socks, and 40 socks quickly turned up. University officials say that they are mystified by the trend, but those posting comments on the newspaper's website have offered several theories.