Higher Education Quick Takes
In a conference call with his major donors on Wednesday, Governor Mitt Romney attributed his presidential campaign loss in part to President Obama's "gifts" to various voting groups, including students, The New York Times reported. Romney cited the administration's positions on student loans and some provisions in the health care legislation. "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
Timothy P. White, who will become chancellor of the California State University System at the end of the year, has asked for and received a cut in pay. White was to have been paid $421,500 from state funds plus $30,000 from the CSU Foundation (the same compensation as received by the outgoing chancellor, Charles Reed). But the state portion of White's salary will now be cut to $380,000. "[A]s I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees, I too must do my part," White said in a statement. "This is the basis of my request to reduce my own compensation to contribute to the rebuilding of this great university."
Ronald Mason Jr., president of the Southern University System, is promoting a series of efforts designed to improve the low educational attainment levels of black men in Louisiana and nationally, The Times-Picayune reported. A key part of the campaign is a "hidden stars" program in which the historically black university system seeks to identify black men who have low ACT scores and who earned low grades in high school, but still have academic talent. The university wants to admit and nurture these students. Further, the university is launching new research programs to promote improved educational access for black men.
The job market for new college graduates is expected to increase by only 3 percent, according to "Recruiting Trends," the annual report prepared at Michigan State University and based on a national survey of employers. The report characterizes the growth as "sluggish." Phil Gardner, director of Michigan State's College Employment Research Institute, said that many employers remain uncertain about the direction of the economy and concerned that events such as the European financial crisis or the "fiscal cliff" facing Congress may damage the economy. Gardner said that the "most troubling" survey results were those finding that many employers believe new graduates have a sense of entitlement and unrealistic salary expectations.
U.S. News & World Report has announced that it has moved George Washington University to the category of "unranked" colleges. The announcement follows an admission by the university last week that it had been for years inflating the percentage of new students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their classes. A blog post by Robert Morse, who directs rankings surveys for the magazine, explained the rationale for the switch in the university's category. But the blog post did not explain -- and Morse declined to explain -- why George Washington was moved to the "unranked" group while that has not happened to other colleges that have in the last year admitted sending the magazine incorrect data.
President Obama plans to speak at Yangon University Monday, during a trip to Myanmar. The New York Times reported that the visit is leading to a major effort to repair the facilities at the university, which suffered damage and disrepair (not to mention repression) during years of military rule. While the university is being spruced up, the article suggested that there is only so much that can be done in a few days, and that Obama will see "something of a Potemkin campus."
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.