Higher Education Quick Takes
Colleges and universities that are highly prestigious tend to have high yields (the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll). But U.S. News & World Report has just published an analysis suggesting that, for law schools, the institutions with the 10 highest yield rates include institutions that are identified by the magazine as the 42nd, 71st, 79th and 140th best law schools, and four that aren't ranked. The data suggest that mission may matter more than typical measures of prestige. Three of the law schools with highest yields are affiliated with religious colleges (Brigham Young, Liberty and Regent Universities). Two others are historically black institutions (Southern and North Carolina Central Universities). The others are the flagship universities in Oklahoma and New Mexico, Harvard and Yale Universities and the University of Memphis.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders on Sunday announced a budget deal that appears likely to include significant cuts to the City University of New York and State University of New York systems. Some additional funds were added that will lessen cuts to the the community colleges in both systems and to SUNY hospitals. More details are expected in coming days.
Dalhousie University's medical school is being criticized for agreeing to set aside (in return for financial support for the openings) 10 slots for Saudi students, The Telegraph-Journal reported. Medical school officials said that limited funds for the institution from Nova Scotia's government necessitate such policies. But some medical professionals believe the move is inappropriate at a time that some provinces in Canada need more doctors.
Gaston Caperton announced Friday that he will step down next year as president of the College Board, which he has led since 1999. A statement from the College Board listed many accomplishments of his tenure, including growth in the Advanced Placement program, shifts in the SAT (most notably the introduction of a writing exam) and growth in membership of the College Board. Caperton's tenure also included substantial growth, however, in market share for the ACT, which now is roughly equal to the SAT as the primary college entrance exam; major controversies over a for-profit spinoff that the College Board shut down in 2002 amid criticism from members that it was wrong for the organization to sell products related to its tests; a major scoring scandal, and growth in the number of colleges dropping the SAT as a requirement -- with those colleges almost uniformly reporting satisfaction with the shift.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday revived a bias suit by Fred U. Andes against New Jersey City University. The suit by Andes charges that he was passed over for promotion to full professor because he is Asian. The appeals court's ruling does not address the substance of the allegations, finding only that a lower court was too quick to dismiss the case, and that the lower court should let Andes have a chance to present his case.
The American Association of University Professors announced Thursday that it is creating a special committee to review association policies on "financial exigency" and program closure. The AAUP has historically had a very high bar -- a state of financial exigency in which institutions face a threat to their survival -- to permit layoffs of tenured faculty members. In the current economic crisis, however, many colleges have not followed the AAUP's policies. Michael Bérubé, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the new AAUP panel, gave the following explanation in the AAUP announcement of the committee: "The AAUP's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure make provision for program closings and terminations of appointments when universities face 'financial exigency.' 'Exigency,' however, is defined as 'an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means.' It is becoming increasingly clear that the financial crises faced by many American colleges and universities are not 'imminent' in this sense, and do not threaten 'the survival of the institution as a whole.' Rather, what we are seeing is a series of slow bleeds, crises brought on by austerity and attrition — especially at publicly funded institutions whose public funding has been dwindling for decades." He added that the new panel would focus on "the question of how the AAUP can best respond to program closings and terminations under such conditions, conditions which may not threaten entire institutions with imminent bankruptcy but which do threaten to transform American higher education as a whole."
Professors at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls voted overwhelmingly Thursday to unionize, the River Falls Journal reported, joining several other faculty bodies that have done so even as the state moves to strip public college faculty members of their recently won right to bargain collectively. The River Falls professors voted 148 to 16 to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers branch in Wisconsin.
Marquette University announced Thursday that it will start to offer domestic partner benefits to employees in 2012, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Both faculty and student groups have asked the university to start the benefit. Marquette, a Roman Catholic university, has faced scrutiny over its treatment of gay employees since its move last year to rescind a job offer to a lesbian scholar for a dean's position. Rev. Robert A. Wild, Marquette's president, sent a message to the campus Thursday explaining the decision to offer benefits. "If we are truly pastoral in our application of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, I asked myself if I could reconcile that with denying health benefits to a couple who have legally registered their commitment to each other," he said. Cura personalis means "care for the entire person."
The Institute of International Education has created an emergency fund to help economically distressed students from Japan who are studying on campuses in the United States. The fund, established with support from the Freeman Foundation, will provide grants of up to $5,000 for students from the regions of Japan most affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Accredited American campuses can nominate students on the institute's website.