Higher Education Quick Takes
Bill Cosby is no longer a member of the board of Hampton University, multiple news outlets reported Thursday. A statement from the private historically black university in Virginia reads in full: "For decades, Bill Cosby supported Hampton University as an institution of higher education including serving on its Board of Trustees. He no longer serves on the board."
A spokeswoman would only add that "his term was up a couple of years ago."
Nearly 60 women have accused the actor and comedian of rape and sexual assault, and in December, Pennsylvania authorities charged Cosby with felony indecent assault for an incident involving a former Temple University employee. Cosby, a Temple graduate, used to serve on that university's board as well, but he resigned in 2014 amid the mounting allegations. A slew of universities have also retracted some of his many honorary degrees.
Education giant Pearson plans to cut 4,000 positions -- 10 percent of its workforce -- as part of a global restructuring process, the company said on Thursday. Declining college enrollment in the U.S., fewer students taking vocational courses in the U.K. and a slump in textbook sales in South Africa are among the reasons that led the company to overestimate its earnings, which have fallen about $325 million from their peak, Pearson said in a news release.
A spokesperson for Pearson said it is not yet clear how many of those job cuts will come from the company's operations in North America. The company said it plans to integrate its assessment operations, reduce costs and "focus more on adaptive, personalized, online assessment in an era of 'fewer, smarter' tests."
Florida campuses will remain gun-free for at least another year, reported the Tampa Bay Times, now that a controversial bill permitting guns on campuses has stalled in the state's Senate.
"I don't think this is a Second Amendment issue,'' said Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has now stopped the bill from moving forward for the second time in as many years. "I think what we're talking about here is campus safety and the best way to address that issue and whether the proposed cure is worse than the disease."
Over the next two years, charitable giving to education is expected to grow, according to an annual prediction of growth rates in American philanthropy from Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
According to the Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017, as the report is called, charitable giving to education is expected to increase by 6.3 percent in 2016 and an additional 6.1 percent next year. The report's definition of education includes higher education and K-12 schools, as well as libraries and other types of educational organizations. Researchers expect education giving to outpace overall giving, which is predicted to grow 4.1 percent this year and an additional 4.3 percent next year.
Giving by foundations is expected to increase more than any other sources. Individuals and households will give more than in past years, but growth in that category will be smaller compared to other sources. Projected growth in the S&P 500 Index, personal income and the net worth of households and nonprofits will contribute the most to charitable giving in the next two years, the report predicts.
Five additional states will create statewide student success centers in an effort to help more community college students earn a credential. The announcement this week means the total number of states with such centers in place will grow to 12. This approach, begun five years ago in Michigan and Arkansas, seeks more coordination and cooperation across institutions and systems and among state policy makers on strategies that work to boost college completion.
“These centers build a cohesive approach to engagement, learning and policy advocacy across each state’s two-year institutions,” said Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of the Kresge Foundation's education program. “The colleges can then spend their resources more effectively and create reforms that help the most students possible graduate.”
Kresge and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are funding the work. Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit group, is helping to create the centers. The new states are Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Student success centers currently are up and running in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.
The Association of American Universities is urging Congress to overturn a ban on federal funding of health-related research about gun violence.
The research university group said in a statement: "While there can be honest disagreement about the most effective means of addressing gun violence, there should be no doubt that, like any other public health issue, the more we know about causes, about trends and about potential remedies, the stronger basis we will have for effective action."
Faculty members at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne formally opposed a recommendation that the university split into two separate universities, Indy Star reported. The Faculty Senate voted unanimously this week to urge the presidents and boards of trustees at Indiana University and Purdue University to reject a recent proposal by a working group tasked by the state's General Assembly to divide the campus. The working group of Indiana, Purdue and Fort Wayne representatives voted 6-2 to approve the recommendation, but Fort Wayne Chancellor Vicky Carwein said she voted against it, according to the Star. Fort Wayne Faculty Senate President Andrew Downs, an associate professor of political science, also voted against it.
According to the working group’s recommendation, Indiana would keep control of the School of Medicine and bolster its health science and medical education programs, while Purdue would control everything else. The senate resolution says that the group’s recommendation was based on an “insufficient investigation” and lacks supporting data. Supporters of the plan say it would streamline operations and clear up who's in charge of what on campus. The recommendation goes next to the boards of trustees for Indiana and Purdue for consideration.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a revised policy requiring criminal background checks for new employees, including faculty members. The new policy addresses concerns about privacy and fairness raised by faculty members on various campuses about a previous policy approved by the board in September. That policy had been prompted in part by the revelation that the Urbana-Champaign campus hired James Kilgore, an ex-convict and former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, as an adjunct instructor of global studies and urban planning.
While Kilgore had shared his record with the university and it hired him anyway, local media reports sparked backlash against that decision and questions about the university’s background check policy for all faculty members (it didn’t have one). That resulted in the adoption of the older policy, which some said was too vague, didn’t address issues of rehabilitation and repaying one’s debt to society, and could have a disproportionate impact on minority applicants.
A working group of faculty and administrators worked to review the policy, consulting with faculty governance bodies. The revisions seek to put a bigger focus on campus safety and distinguish between criminal background checks and other kinds of checks, as well as on supporting workforce diversity. Under the new policy, there is no list of crimes that automatically disqualify someone from employment. Checks yielding criminal records will be weighed against a variety of factors, such as one’s age at the time of the crime and employment record since. Checks are only done after job offers are made, contingent upon a successful result.
The Urbana-Champaign Faculty Senate approved a resolution rejecting the policy, citing residual concerns.
It's time for competitive college admissions to undergo significant changes, according to a report, “Turning the Tide,” issued Wednesday by the Making Caring Common program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. The reforms called for include: going test optional on admissions or assuring students that standardized tests aren't the crucial part of applications, discouraging students from trying to take the maximum number of Advanced Placement courses possible and encouraging high school students to focus on the quality rather than quantity of extracurricular activities. Generally, admissions experts and many admissions administrators have long called for many of these reforms, as have some past reports and books.