Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Alabama has extended the contract of its head football coach, Nick Saban, in a way that boosts his annual pay by $550,000 a year and restores his status (at least for the moment) as the country's best-paid coach, the Associated Press reported. (Saban had been the best-paid coach when Alabama hired him in 2007, but he had since been passed up by others.) The new contract, which would keep Saban at the university until 2019, will pay him $5.32 million in 2013 in salary, benefits and what Alabama calls "talent fees," which include his contracts with apparel and media companies; that total will rise to $5.9 million by the end of the contract, AP reported.
Gov. Chris Christie's plan to restructure New Jersey's higher education system -- most notably (and controversially) by merging Rutgers University's Camden campus into Rowan University -- needs the approval of the state Legislature before it takes effect, an independent panel in the state declared Monday, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark. Christie had signaled a willingness to work around the legislature to push through the plan, which includes merging parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers. But the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, in a non-binding opinion obtained by The Star-Ledger, said the plan requires the approval of lawmakers.
In a related development, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to look into Christie's proposed restructuring of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Lautenberg's letter expressed concern that the plan was "crafted to benefit powerful political interests without regard for the impact on students."
Non-English speaking European countries are seeing a major growth in master's level programs in English, according to a new report by the Institute of International Education. The number of such programs in Europe (excluding Britain and Ireland) was 4,644 in 2011, up from 1,028 in 1977. The Netherlands has the greatest number of such programs (812), followed by Germany (632) and Sweden (401). But some countries further down on the list showed the greatest percentage increases in the last year. Italy and Denmark have only 191 and 188 such programs, respectively, but both of those figures are up 33 percent in the last year.
Allan Golston, president of U.S. programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the interim successor to Hilary Pennington, the foundation's director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives, a Gates spokeswoman confirmed. Pennington, who steps down at the end of the month, has played a prominent role in the foundation's college completion push over the last five years. Golston will manage the postsecondary success program until a permanent hire for the position is named, the spokeswoman said.
A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of California's voters say they support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the sales tax and levies on wealthier taxpayers as part of the state's solution to its budget problems -- a plan on which another round of big cuts to the state's public colleges hangs in the balance, the Los Angeles Times reported. The survey, by the newspaper and the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that 64 percent of voters supported the latest iteration of the governor's proposal, which he aims to put on the November ballot, when they are told that the additional revenues will be used to fund public schools, community colleges, and public safety. Brown's budget plan for higher education would keep the public college systems' budgets flat but includes a "trigger" cut of $200 million for the University of California and California State University if the tax plan is not approved.
President Obama on Friday nominated Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, as the next president of the World Bank. In a statement, Kim said: "When I assumed the presidency of Dartmouth, I did so with the full and deep belief that the mission of higher education is to prepare us for lives of leadership and service in our professions and communities. While President Obama's call is compelling, the prospect of leaving Dartmouth at this stage is very difficult. Nevertheless, should the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors elect me as the next president, I will embrace the responsibility." Kim is one of several nominees from which the World Bank's board may choose.
When Kim was selected as president of Dartmouth, his career had been focused on public health. He had been chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, and previously had led the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS program. While Asian-American students and faculty members have made notable strides in American higher education, there are relatively few Asian-American presidents, and so Kim's selection by a college as prominent as Dartmouth was viewed as historic -- and cheered nationally by Asian-American activists.
About 25 presidents from state colleges and universities met with White House and Education Department officials Friday for another discussion of President Obama's plans to try to make college more affordable. The presidents, who were in Washington for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' Council of State Representatives meeting, met with domestic policy director Cecilia Muñoz, Deputy Education Secretary Tony Miller and Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson, an administration official said. (President Obama, who spent more than an hour with college presidents in a similar meeting in December, was not present.)
Some public college officials had expressed concern about Obama's plans to lower college cost, which include using campus-based financial aid programs to award or punish colleges who raise tuition too much. The president has emphasized that state legislatures have to play a role in keeping college affordable, a concern the presidents discussed in the meeting, said Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East.
"We talked about what kinds of things universities are doing and can do to overcome the financial support [issue] without really raising tuition to put a lot of people out of market," Paydar said, adding that he was impressed by the administration's focus on college issues. "Sometimes the actual words are not that important -- it’s the fact that there’s an emphasis on higher education."
Since November's hazing-related death of a student in Florida A&M University's marching band, university officials have said repeatedly that they never tolerated hazing. But an Associated Press/Tallahassee Democrat project found that university officials received repeated reports -- including numerous detailed letters from parents -- about hazing in the band. One letter said of the letter writer's son: "After one month at FAMU he is broken, indecisive, sad, confused and he wants to come home.... My son will not quit school, you will not break him, I will see to that but FAMU has lost a hell of a young man and after this semester he will not be back. I pray that GOD will give the administration wisdom and courage to stand up against the stupid idiotic practices that go on [at] this FAMU campus."