The Board of Governors of the California community college system on Monday voted to endorse recommendations from a state task force that seeks to improve student success amid a backdrop of deep budget cuts. The recommendations include more of an emphasis on first-time students who are on-track to a degree or credential, a controversial shift for a system that has long been steadfastly committed to open access. But the task force and system leaders argue that the 112 colleges are already rationing slots, having turned away 140,000 students in a recent year, with an estimated 200,000 who will be frozen out this year. California's Legislature is scheduled to consider the recommendations in the next two months.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Economic Association responded to criticism that some economists were too close to businesses or the government by issuing a new set of guidelines last week at its annual meeting in Chicago, aiming to get scholars to disclose the supporters of their research when they publish in AEA journals. The new guidelines were approved at an executive committee meeting Thursday. “Every submitted article should state the sources of financial support for the particular research it describes. If none, that fact should be stated,” says one of the new principles. Another principle asks authors to “identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like. The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as providing access to data.” The additions come after years of introspection by economists, following the financial meltdown of 2008.
Lisa Troyer, chief of staff to the president of the University of Illinois System, resigned abruptly Friday amid an inquiry into whether she sent anonymous e-mail messages to faculty members trying to influence their deliberations on policy matters, The Chicago Tribune reported. The university did not announce the reasons for Troyer's resignation, but it came as the Tribune was making inquiries into the investigation of the allegations against her. Faculty leaders were concerned about a senior aide to the president trying to play the part online of a faculty member advising colleagues.
Xavier University, in Ohio, has backed away from a plan to require all students who were in the student section at a basketball game at which a brawl broke out to attend a "reflection session" as a condition of attending any other basketball games, Cincinnati.com reported. The brawl -- involving athletes from Xavier and its crosstown rival the University of Cincinnati -- embarrassed both universities. An e-mail announcing the requirement said: "The student section contributed to the hostile atmosphere that charged the arena with unsportsmanlike conduct through unacceptable chanting, verbal expletives, and objects being thrown onto the arena floor. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, the behaviors demonstrated are not becoming of its students and is in conflict with the mission, values, and standards of Xavier University." But many students objected to everyone being required to attend the event, so the university is now making attendance voluntary, and inviting all students, not just those who were in attendance the night of the brawl.
The U.S. Education Department has tapped the president of Southern Vermont College, Karen Gross, to advise it on issues related to college access, affordability and completion. In a news release Friday, Southern Vermont said that Gross had been granted a year's leave of absence from the presidency to serve as a senior policy adviser to Under Secretary Martha J. Kanter, with whom Gross and Southern Vermont had worked on several initiatives. Gross, who spent two decades as a law professor and expert on consumer debt before assuming the presidency of the small Vermont private college in 2006, has focused on the educational success of first-generation and low-income students, top priorities of the Obama administration. (She has written frequently for Inside Higher Ed.)
The board of Kean University is investigating allegations of false statements on the résumé of Dawood Farahi, the president, The Wall Street Journal reported. The faculty union at Kean has questioned whether Farahi falsely claimed to have written more than 50 articles, including some allegedly published in journals that do not exist. Professors at Kean have had numerous conflicts with Farahi, and have charged that he does not respect the faculty role in governance, and that his priorities don't reflect academic needs at the New Jersey institution. A statement from Farahi denied the allegations and said that they were motivated by "hate, prejudice and greed."
Vietnamese universities are pushing for more autonomy, Viet Nam News reported. The institutions want control over such matters as enrollment policy and administration. Government officials have said that some state control remains needed to assure quality.
Rick Santorum is accusing President Obama of "snobbery" for saying that all Americans need at least some higher education, The Wall Street Journal reported. "We are leaving so many children behind,” said Santorum, whose candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has been gaining ground of late, in New Hampshire on Saturday. "They’re not ready to go to [college.] They don’t want to go to college. They don’t need to go to college. I was so outraged that the President of the United States [said] every student should go to college." Added Santorum: "I have seven kids. Maybe they’ll all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him! That’s a good-paying job." As the article in the Journal noted, it is increasingly rare for political leaders to express that view, given that some higher education is now becoming necessary for many manufacturing jobs that once would not have required it.
Sterling College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Kansas, has announced an unusual gift. Someone left a boulder with a sword's handle sticking out of it outside a campus building. There was no note, but the boulder is engraved with "SC Warriors" on one side. (The college's athletic teams are known as the Warriors.) A statement from Scott Rich, vice president and chief financial officer, said, "The gift is professionally done, and it is clear that a lot of time and effort have gone into the project. We would like to know more information about the gift to properly thank those who donated it."