Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Virginia announced Tuesday several changes to its institutional governance policies made in the wake of the university's tumultuous summer in which members of the institution's governing board forced the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan only to reappoint her two weeks later after significant campus pushback. The changes were noted in a memo to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Colleges Commission on Colleges, which has been reviewing the university's policies since this summer. The changes are:
1) The board must hold a public meeting and a vote of the full board before making changes to a president's employment status. There was no vote about Sullivan's resignation and board members who supported Sullivan were surprised to learn others felt the same way.
2) The board instituted a quarterly presidential evaluation meetings to "review progress on goals and established benchmarks, and to advise the president on current priorities of the board," according to the memo. One of the issues raised this summer was whether there was sufficient agreement between the president and board about the university's direction and whether Sullivan was aware of board members' concerns.
3) The rector (the board chair) will, in consultation with the president, appoint one non-voting faculty member to each standing committee that doesn't have faculty representation. The university's faculty members, who were cut out of much of the resignation and reappointment discussion this summer, have been pushing for a larger role in governance.
Just about every November features controversies in which photographs surface on Facebook or other social media sites featuring students in blackface Halloween costumes. This week, however, Duke University is apologizing for a such a photograph -- showing members of the women's lacrosse team, one in blackface -- that appeared on the university's official athletics site, The News & Observer reported. On Monday, the photograph was removed. A statement from the head coach, Kerstin Kimel, said: "The Duke women’s lacrosse program celebrates Halloween with an annual gathering. This year, some of our costume choices were insensitive and entirely inappropriate. No offense was intended, but that does not matter because we should have realized how these choices would be viewed by those outside of our program."
North Lake College held a training program last month on how to deal with a shooter if the Texas community college ever faced such a situation. But as WFAA News reported, students weren't told that a drill was going to be taking place, and many faculty members didn't read the e-mail telling them about the drill (and encouraging them to tell students). As a result, many students believed a real shooter was on the loose, and made frantic calls to 911.
Ohio State University is planning a huge and highly focused faculty hiring campaign, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Over the next decade, the university plans to add 500 top scholars in three fields: health, energy and the environment, and food production and safety. The fields were chosen as areas where the university already has research strength. When the hiring is done (at which point some existing faculty members will have retired), the university projects that the size of its tenured and tenure-track faculty ranks will be 8-10 percent larger than it is today.
The California State University System is considering a series of fees that would be "incentives" for students to move to graduation in a timely way. Students would be required to pay extra for retaking courses, or those who have accumulated so many credits that they could have graduated. But The Los Angeles Times reported that student groups say that the plan is flawed, and incorrectly assumes that students aren't working as hard as they can to finish their degrees. A survey released by a student group says that the proposed fees are likely to force students to borrow more, not help them graduate on time.
Presidents of community colleges received annual raises of roughly 4 to 6 percent per year between 2006 and 2012, according to a newly-released survey of executive compensation from the American Association of Community Colleges. The presidents' median base salary was $167,000. The association's study also found that three-quarters of respondents plan to retire within the next decade.
Lonnie Norton, director of computing at the University of Utah's College of Humanities, has been arrested for kidnapping his estranged wife, taking her to a campus building, and raping her, The Deseret News reported. His wife filed for divorce last week. A statement from the University of Utah said: "University employees who commit violent acts on university property are not eligible to remain employed at the university and will be excluded from campus. The university does not comment on individual personnel actions or ongoing investigations."
Morehouse College on Monday announced that its next president would be John S. Wilson Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Wilson is a Morehouse alumnus who held administrative positions at George Washington University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the Obama administration. In that role, he argued that black colleges needed to move beyond a narrative about past oppression and to focus instead on the qualities of the institutions today that would appeal to students, philanthropists and government agencies. Morehouse, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous leaders of the civil rights movement, has long played a crucial role in educating black men.
With the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case on the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions, studies continue to appear to shed light on the issues. One released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) looked at the performance of minority students before and after the University of California system dropped the consideration of race in admissions. Graduation rates of minority students went up, but the study finds that only a small share of that improvement can be attributed to better "matches" between students and the institutions in which they enroll. More important factors included the general increase in selectivity in the system, and an apparent effort by the university campuses -- facing declines in admission of minority students -- to do more to make sure those who were admitted were retained and prepared for graduation.