The board of Oakland University, in Michigan, has authorized a $230,000 deferred compensation bonus to Gary Russi even though the former president didn't meet the specific criteria established for the payment, The Detroit Free Press reported. The funds were only to be paid if Russi served through June 30, 2014. He quit unexpectedly this year when the university fired his wife, the basketball coach at Oakland. The board chair said that the payment was appropriate, given Russi's contributions to the university. But the chair also said he didn't know about the provision requiring that Russi work until next year to qualify for the deferred compensation.
Higher Education Quick Takes
McGill University is facing scrutiny and criticism over an increased emphasis on diversity in medical school admissions, The Montreal Gazette reported. In the context of Quebec, diversity at McGill (historically an institution serving the English-speaking minority) in part means recruiting more Francophone students. In 2010, McGill eliminated the requirement that applicants take the Medical College Admission Test, which is not offered in French. Since then Francophone enrollment has increased from 31.6 to 37.5 percent. Some at the university, however, say that highly talented Anglo applicants are being rejected unfairly in the name of diversity. In Canada, the vast majority of medical students enroll in their home province, so this shift raises issues for Anglo students who are unlikely to be admitted to Quebec's Francophone medical schools.
Purdue University at Calumet’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors alleges potential violations of shared governance in the planned layoffs of seven faculty members members last week, including six tenure-track professors. In a statement posted on its Facebook page Monday, Calumet AAUP President Marcus K. Rogers accuses the university of laying off the professors – which administrators blame on budget woes stemming from lower enrollments – while “actively hiring more administrators, increasing funding to the athletic program and hiring fitness assistants.”
Rogers also alleges that the layoffs “do not appear to have been conducted with the proper faculty input,” and urges university administrators to reconsider their decision.
In a statement to faculty issued Monday, Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said the faculty layoff notices were “regrettable but necessary,” and issued in in response to a $3 million campus revenue shortfall anticipated this fall, based on a 6 percent fall projected enrollment decline. As those layoffs -- including the professors’ would-be retirement funds -- only amount to $1 million, he said, other cuts to the university’s budget likely are forthcoming. “As I reported at the Town Hall meeting, I would be pleased to rescind any or all of the notices should we find that there are alternatives,” Keon said. “Additionally, the senior leadership team is committed to continue working with faculty and the Faculty Senate to explore other options.”
Capella University announced that the U.S. Department of Education has granted approval to two new, competency-based degree programs. The university's "FlexPath" online bachelor's of science in business and master of business administration degrees are so-called "direct assessment" tracks, which are not based on the credit hour standard. Students in the two programs can now access federal financial aid thanks to the department's green light. Southern New Hampshire's College for America is the only other institution to receive such approval, but Northern Arizona University is also seeking it. Regional accreditors have signed off on the direct assessment degrees at all three institutions.
President Obama over the weekend touted a new program from the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Veteran Affairs that broadly defines "best practices" for serving student veterans. So far more than 250 institutions, including many community colleges, have signed on to the "8 Keys to Success." The program includes calls for better coordination with government agencies, a uniform set of data tools and an early alert system aimed at student veterans.
Israeli universities for the first time are being allowed to offer some faculty members individual contracts -- with salaries 30 percent higher than the norm -- instead of having all professors covered by collective agreements, Haaretz reported. The goal of the initiative is to recruit back to Israel star faculty members who have left for universities abroad, typically in the United States, where top faculty members earn more than they do in Israel.
In today’s Academic Minute, Karim Kassam of Carnegie Mellon University reveals what brain imaging techniques have to say about the spectrum of human emotions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
The board of the University of North Carolina system voted Friday to bar campuses from offering gender-neutral housing, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The university's Chapel Hill campus had decided last year to start offering some gender-neutral housing, and the board's action stops that plan from taking effect. The board acted without discussing the issue in public, but the Chapel Hill move has been criticized by conservative groups in the state. Advocates for gender-neutral housing have said that it is an important option for transgender students and for some gay and lesbian students who may face hostile environments in traditional housing. Members of Campus Pride, an organization the is an advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender students, protested outside the meeting, with signs that read "Trans Lives Matter."
Medical schools in Eastern Europe are seeing increases in the number of foreign students enrolling, particularly in programs taught in English, The New York Times reported. The programs are less expensive than those in the United States and are easier to get into.