Higher Education Quick Takes
College and university governing boards must respect the central role of faculty and academic administrators in curricular and other academic matters, but trustees themselves are ultimately responsible for ensuring their institutions' educational quality, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges said in a statement released Monday. The document, released in conjunction with the group's annual meeting in Los Angeles, states: "While academic administrators and faculty members are responsible for setting learning goals, developing and offering academic courses and programs, and assessing the quality of those courses and programs, boards cannot delegate away their governance responsibilities for educational quality. The board’s responsibility in this area is to recognize and support faculty’s leadership in continuously improving academic programs and outcomes, while also holding them -- through institutional administrators -- accountable for educational quality."
Colleges that offer online programs to students in multiple states have been told that if they do not show a "good faith" effort to comply with various state rules governing higher ed by the beginning of July, they could lose their eligibility for federal student aid. But according to an update to an earlier report on online regulation by the consulting firm Eduventures, colleges are still uncertain about exactly what they need to do before then to avoid running afoul of state regulators or federal watchdogs. The firm says distance education officials at various institutions it surveyed were scrambling to undertake "extreme measures," such as acquiring licensing in every state where they enroll students or ceasing operations in all but their home states.
State officials, meanwhile, have been reticent to update or rework their online licensing requirements, despite the fact that in many states the existing rules are "unclear," "patchily enforced," and archaic in light of the new normal of online education, Eduventures says. Only 14 states have updated or reformulated their policies, it says. For reasons not primarily connected to online regulation, a coalition of higher ed officials, led by the American Council on Education, has lobbied to extend the July 1 deadline, which is when numerous federal rules are scheduled to take effect.
The Council of Graduate Schools is today releasing a report on steps taken by universities, academic departments and other groups to improve graduate education in the year since the release of the council's study "The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United States." The new report suggests that many universities have become more strategic about graduate education in the wake of the earlier report.
The American Council of Learned Societies has started a new fellowship program that will place eight recent humanities Ph.D.s in paid positions (with health insurance) for two years in government agencies and nonprofit groups. The effort, funded with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed "to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy."
China has restored the University of Calgary to the country's list of accredited universities, a list that many Chinese students rely upon when deciding where to enroll, The Calgary Herald reported. The university disappeared from the list last year, following a visit to the campus by the Dalai Lama.
The University of Colorado Board of Regents may vote this week on a plan to shut down a free-standing journalism program at the university's Boulder flagship and replace it with "journalism plus" in which students may earn a bachelor's degree in journalism, as long as they also complete another major, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. Colorado's review of journalism education has attracted considerable interest and criticism from some journalism education advocates.
Charles McCaslin, a Southern Methodist University junior, quit his position as chair of the Texas College Republicans last week after video surfaced of him describing a hook-up and calling those opposing his preferred candidate for chairmanship of the national college Republican group "nerds and fags," The Dallas Morning News reported. The comments came in his endorsement of another candidate for the national position. McCaslin has since apologized. The video is here:
A federal judge has reduced the $5 million in damages awarded (in total) to two law professors to a total of $400,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The professors sued West Publishing Corp. after they were named as the authors of an addendum to a work they had written. The professors charged that their reputations were hurt by being seen as authors of the addendum, which they didn't write and didn't think highly of. The judge didn't dispute the basic facts that led to the jury award, but said that the original award could not be justified by the damage done to the professors.
Rutgers University has raised some eyebrows by going to the practice of paying commencement speakers, and signing a deal to pay Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate, $30,000 to appear this year. But now comes the news from The Star-Ledger that Rutgers paid $32,000 to Snooki, the reality star, for a question-and-answer session on the campus. During her talk, Snooki advised the students to "study hard, but party harder."