Higher Education Quick Takes
Some faculty members at Texas Tech University are upset about a $500,000-a-year raise, to $2 million a year, for Tommy Tuberville, the head football coach, at a time when they are being told their salaries are frozen, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. University officials have said that the $1.5 million annual salary Tuberville has been paid is below market rates, but that's not swaying some professors. “If that was me, I would have turned it down,” said Julian Spallholz, a faculty senator and human sciences professor, of the coach's raise. “I would have been embarrassed."
Complete College America, a foundation-supported group seeking to improve graduation and completion rates of college students, is today launching a new program to encourage states to focus on these issues. The group is creating a grant program that will award 10 states grants of $1 million each to advance their efforts. In a Views essay at Inside Higher Ed today, Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlines the thinking behind the new program.
A new tool aims to help colleges catalog and present to their constituents the various steps they are undertaking to assess how (and how much) their students are learning. The "Transparency Framework" released this week by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment is designed to bring together in one place the various plans, assessment activities and evidence that a particular college or university is using to gauge student learning. The framework was established to respond, in part, to the disconnect the institute found in a report last year between how much assessment activity campus leaders said they were doing, and how much was visible to the public.
European universities, once seen as entirely supported by their governments, are already relying on diversified funding sources -- but want more flexibility to raise still more money from non-government sources. That is the conclusion of a report being released today by the European University Association. According to the report, public funding accounts for only 73 percent of university budgets, on average, and a majority of universities in Europe already receive more than 10 percent of revenue from sources other than their governments or tuition. While many universities want to raise more money from business contracts and philanthropy, they report that government regulations are often a barrier to doing so, the report says.
A state judge in Louisiana on Friday lifted another judge's order barring the state from supporting a possible merger of Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, The Advocate reported. The injunction had been granted in a lawsuit -- still pending -- by critics of the idea of merging the institutions. Southern is a historically black institution, and its many defenders say that a merger would leave a new institution without Southern's traditional commitment to low-income, minority students. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has proposed the merger as a way to help both institutions, whose graduation rates he has said are too low.
Last year, Macalester College celebrated Presidents' Day with this funny video of the college's president, Brian Rosenberg, inhaling helium, eating three bowls of cereal, and generally making light of his presidential duties. While the video attracted considerable attention, the college decided against a sequel, instead posting a video about bad ideas for sequels. Today, Rosenberg plans to call the households of 18,000 alumni, parent and friends today -- at one time. The call will be the largest in the college's history. Special guests on the line will include Walter Mondale, the former vice president, and Tim O'Brien, the author, both Macalester alumni.
The University of Arizona will today announce that it will open a National Institute for Civil Discourse as a nonpartisan center to promote research, education and public programming about civility in public life, The Washington Post reported. The honorary chairs of the new center will be two former U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. The University of Arizona is in Tucson, where six people were killed and Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January.
Allegheny College is among the institutions already doing work in this area, sponsoring a survey and award to promote civility, and encouraging colleges to join the "Soapbox Alliance," a group of colleges and universities that refuse to let their facilities be used for closed political events.
As Iowa politicians and educators have debated a legislator's proposal that the University of Iowa sell Jackson Pollock's "Mural" for $140 million, many have discussed what the wishes would have been of Peggy Guggenheim, the pioneer collector of modern art who donated the painting in 1951. Guggenheim died in 1979, but it turns out that she weighed in against the idea of Iowa ever selling her gift. In 1963, she heard a rumor that the university was considering a sale, and she wrote to the university's president stating that, if the university no longer wanted to hold on to "Mural," she wanted it back, to display at another museum, The Des Moines Register reported.
The letter -- and the university's reply, assuring Guggenheim that there were no plans to sell the painting -- may be found on the website Scribd, which also features letters suggesting that the university did explore whether Guggenheim's gift was conditional on the university holding on to the painting. (The advice the university received suggested the answer was ambiguous.)
Holy Family University has suspended John O'Connor as head men's basketball coach while investigating allegations that he assaulted a player during a practice, The Philadelphia Daily News reported. O'Connor could not be reached for comment, but the local Fox News station ran video of the alleged assault and quoted the player's lawyer raising questions about whether the university acted soon enough after learning of the allegation.