Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 4:22am

Senate Republicans are raising new questions about payments Jack Lew, President Obama's nominee to become treasury secretary, received upon leaving a top position at New York University, The New York Times reported. Lew left the position of executive vice president in 2006 to take a post at Citigroup. On Monday it was revealed that Lew -- who was earning in excess of $700,000 a year since starting at NYU in 2001 -- received an exit payment of $625,000. While deferred compensation and bonuses are common for long-time leaders or presidents of colleges and universities, Lew's tenure at NYU was not exceptionally long. NYU officials said that the payment reflected his successful work at the university.

One of the Republicans reviewing Lew's nomination is Charles Grassley of Iowa, who regularly raises questions about salaries and benefits provided by nonprofit organizations. "Mr. Lew’s track record of getting well paid by taxpayer-supported institutions raises questions about his regard for who pays the bills,” Grassley said. “The problem of colleges that always seem to find money for the executive suite even as they raise tuition is not unique to New York University. However, New York University is among the most expensive, has a well-funded endowment, and has high student debt loads. It should explain how its generous treatment of Mr. Lew and other executives is necessary to its educational mission."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released a state-by-state rundown of graduation data, which is based on a broad sample representing about 97 percent of students who attend public and private nonprofit institutions. The report is a companion to a national completion data study the group released last fall. Both are based on students who first enrolled in 2006 at the 3,300 colleges and universities that submit data to the clearinghouse, which is a nonprofit that collects enrollment data and conducts degree verifications.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

It's fashionable among some governors and pundits to suggest that the only way for students to get ahead economically these days is to embrace the most utilitarian of majors. So the results of an analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek may be of interest. The magazine wanted to see which undergraduate colleges produced the students with the highest GMAT scores at the top 114 M.B.A. programs. The college whose graduates scored highest and ended up in the leading business schools is an institution where you can major in ancient history, film studies or anthropology, but not business. Swarthmore College topped the list. To be fair, those at some of the other institutions on the top 10 could have majored in business or related fields. Also of potential interest: 6 of the top 10 were colleges outside the United States. They include three in India, one in Canada, one in China and one in Britain.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Angel Yanagihara of the University of Hawaii reveals what makes the venom of the box jelly so deadly. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Wayne Watson was hired as president of Chicago State University in 2009 over strong objections of faculty members, who noted that he had clashed with professors while leading the City Colleges of Chicago. Board members, however, said that he would improve enrollment figures and repair ties with the faculty. On Monday, the university announced Watson was leaving. Enrollment has dropped and the faculty voted no confidence in him last year, The Chicago Tribune reported. Board members said that they felt the university needed new leadership. Watson did not comment. He was midway through the fourth year of a five-year contract, and will now receive a one-year sabbatical at his $250,000 salary.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

The government of the United Arab Emirates on Monday released a statement explaining its decision to briefly detain Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, who teaches government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, when he arrived in Dubai for a conference his institution co-sponsored with the American University of Sharjah. He was barred from entering the country and was sent back to Britain -- at which point the London School of Economics called off the conference. Ulrichsen said he believed he was kept out because he has written critically about the government of Bahrain, and the government statement essentially confirmed this.

The statement: "Dr. Coates Ulrichsen was scheduled to speak on the current political situation in Bahrain. The UAE is a strong supporter of efforts by the Government of Bahrain and the opposition parties to resolve their situation through peaceful dialogue. Dr Coates Ulrichsen has consistently propagated views de-legitimizing the Bahraini monarchy. The UAE took the view that at this extremely sensitive juncture in Bahrain's national dialogue it would be unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed from within another GCC state. This decision in no way reflects the strong ties with both the AUS and LSE and their academic excellence, however, in this very specific case, it was important to avoid disruption at a difficult point in Bahrain's national dialogue process which we fully support."

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Central Florida announced last week that it is suspending most fraternity and sorority activities while an investigation proceeds into two Greek groups for alleged violation of rules against hazing and alcohol abuse, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Many students in the fraternity and sorority systems are complaining about the move, but university officials said it was necessary to send a message. In the last three years, the university has found violations of hazing rules three times and of alcohol rules 13 times.

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 4:27am

The University of Pennsylvania will this week announce major gifts to support a new international strategy for the institution, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Penn plans to create a "world house" in 2015 through which world leaders and Penn faculty members will work to tackle major global problems. Each year, a new problem will be selected. While Penn does not plan to start branch campuses abroad, it is preparing to open a center in China for a range of activities, including faculty research and interviewing applicants.

 

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

Lincoln Memorial University last week told 13 faculty members, one of whom had taught at the university for 18 years, that their contracts would not be renewed after this academic year, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The job cuts are being made because of projected decreases in enrollment next year. The university's graduate education programs have enrolled many students from Georgia -- educators eligible for raises if they complete certain degrees. Georgia has changed its rules such that completing the programs at Lincoln Memorial will no longer make people eligible for raises. Lincoln Memorial does not have tenure, so faculty members work on year-to-year contracts.

 

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

Emory University had hoped to highlights its library's ties to the civil rights movement on Friday at a reception to mark the opening of an exhibit of papers housed at the library from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But students -- still angry over President James Wagner's essay suggesting that the Constitution's three-fifths compromise was a model for dealing with disagreements -- saw an opportunity to protest. As guests arrived at the reception, they had to walk by students standing in silence, holding signs that said “We are Emory,” “We are sorry,” “I deserve 5/5 respect,” “Ethics is not a brand" and "This is 5/5 outrageous," Atlanta Magazine reported.

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