Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Virginia announced Sunday that President Teresa A. Sullivan, in office for just under two years, will resign on August 15. The announcement shocked many at the university, with faculty leaders and prominent campus officials reporting that they had seen no sign of any imminent change in the works, and several said on background that they believed Sullivan had been doing an excellent job.

In a statement, Sullivan cited an unspecified "philosophical difference of opinion" with the board.

A statement from Helen Dragas, the rector (U.Va.'s title for board chair), praised Sullivan, but also suggested a board view that she was insufficiently bold. "[T]he board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face. The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years. We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA," the statement said.

The statement continued by outlining the goal of being in "the top echelon" of universities. "To achieve these aspirations, the board feels the need for a bold leader who can help develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential. We need a leader with a great willingness to adapt the way we deliver our teaching, research, and patient care to the realities of the external environment. We need a leader who is able to passionately convey a vision to our community, and effectively obtain gifts and buy-in towards our collective goals."

Inside Higher Ed will have a full article on Sullivan's departure tomorrow morning.

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

Matt Arnold, a Republican running for the Colorado Board of Regents (Colorado is a state where regents are elected), says it is irrelevant that he has claimed to have a master's degree he did not earn, The Denver Post reported. Arnold has in the past claimed a master's degree from the School of Advanced International Studies, part of Johns Hopkins University. He now says that he did the coursework, but didn't do the required thesis -- and that those questioning his false claim are engaged in "minutiae." He explained that "I was more interested in getting on with my life than trying to, quite frankly, waste more time in pursuit of academic BS that no one cares about." Arnold added that "I think that's one of the big problems, quite frankly, with education these days. We're graduating a bunch of people who hang letters after their names, but they have no useful skills."

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

Three people were killed, and three others injured in a shooting Saturday night at an apartment complex near Auburn University that houses many students. Two of those killed were former football players, and one of them was still a student at the university. One of those injured is still on the football team. The university released these statements about the shootings, and is providing extra counseling services on campus.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 4:20am

Pasadena City College announced Thursday that it has placed two senior officials -- Richard Van Pelt, vice president of administrative services, and Alfred Hutchings, facilities services supervisor -- on administrative leave, pending the results of a bribery-related investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, The Los Angeles Times reported. The D.A.'s office executed search warrants at the officials' homes and offices Thursday, in an investigations of alleged solicitation of bribes involving a contract from the college. No charges have been filed and the officials could not be reached for comment.

 

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

The board of Florida A&M University voted 8-4 Thursday that it lacks confidence in James Ammons, the university's president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Ammons has faced much criticism for failing to deal with widespread hazing by the university's band -- hazing that has received considerable attention since the death of a student last year. But questions have also been raised about other issues, including the university's fragile finances and audits suggesting inadequate management controls. Ammons vowed at the board meeting that he would improve. "I hear you loudly and clearly," Ammons said before the vote. " I understand there are some measures I have to take as president of this university to fix things and I'm going to fix them. This is very serious. This is very serious for the future of this university and you have my commitment to fix them and get this job done." The board did not vote to suspend or fire him.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities (and the states that regulate them) need to embrace an entrepreneurial approach to reforms, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Among the recommendations:

  • States should give higher levels of funding to institutions with better student outcomes.
  • Accreditation should "place the fewest possible restrictions on both new and existing providers to encourage innovation." Further, accreditation "should focus much less on inputs and much more on outcome measures, such as student performance and loan default rates."
  • Online instruction "should be largely deregulated as long as minimum course-level outcomes are specified."
  • Universities "should identify and financially incentivize those professors whose time would be more productively spent in the classroom rather than conducting and publishing scholarly research."
Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Damian Cruse of the University of Western Ontario shares his research into the level of conscious awareness among coma patients. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Veterans' affairs and financial aid officers hoping for a clearer understanding of the requirements of an Obama administration executive order on recruiting of veterans and service members were left wanting (and frustrated) Thursday when many were shut out of the first of several webinars at which federal agency officials planned to explain the new policies. The executive order, announced in April on a visit by President Obama to a Georgia military base, will force colleges to disclose more information about financial aid and graduation rates, as well as requiring the Department of Defense to set rules for recruiting at military installations, among other things. Listservs were ablaze Thursday afternoon with complaints from the many who had been shut out as well as from those who participated, who said most of their questions went unanswered.

Officials of the Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education agencies apologized for the "computer glitch" that allowed more than 1,000 participants to sign up for webinar that was limited to 1,000 spaces, and scheduled a third event for next week.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Data released Thursday are likely to add to scrutiny of law schools and the question of whether applicants are being admitted who are unlikely to find career advancement worth the cost. The overall employment rate for those who graduated law school in 2011 is 85.6 percent, the lowest since 1994, according to a report issued Thursday by NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals. But that figure, association officials noted, doesn't reflect just how bad the job market is. Only 65.4 percent of new law grads are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. That figure is down 9 percentage points since 2008 -- and is consistent with the reports of many law graduates that they are landing jobs for which they didn't need to go to law school (many times taking out loans to do so).

James Leipold, executive director of NALP, wrote in the report that "for members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession, entering law school in the fall of 2008 just as Lehman Brothers collapsed ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

California's community colleges need a stronger central office, more authority for local governing boards and less decision-making power for academic senates, according to new report by a council of business and civic leaders from the state and California Competes, a nonprofit group headed by Bob Shireman, a former U.S. Department of Education official. The proposed governance changes were part of a broader range of recommendations on how to keep public higher education strong in California amid a deepening budget crisis. The report also called for a new Higher Education Investment Board, which would oversee coordination and promote efficiency across the three public systems in the state, while also absorbing the functions of the California Student Aid Commission.

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