Higher Education Quick Takes
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."
Seminole State College has expelled George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, setting off a debate over whether Florida has been too slow to charge Zimmerman in the shooting, WKMG News reported. College officials released a statement saying: "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment. This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman was enrolled in an associate in arts degree in general studies.
Academics at RMIT University, in Australia, are protesting new requirements that employees be "positive" and "optimistic," as well as "resolute" and "passionate," The Australian reported. These qualities are part of a new "behavioral capability framework" that officials said would result in a more productive environment on campus. But many employees say that they are being coerced into adopting certain attitudes, and that telling people what to think is antithetical to an academic environment.
Students on many campuses held protests last week of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year old who was shot and killed in Florida. His killer has claimed self-defense and, to date, faces no charges, outraging many. Other campuses are planning protests this week.
The case -- seen by many as highlighting the discrimination faced by young black men -- has been the subject of particular discussion at historically black colleges and universities. More than 100 Livingstone College students held a protest Friday. Howard University students held a vigil. At Paul Quinn College, President Michael Sorrell invited students and others to attend a rally that attracted hundreds. Students at Winston-Salem State University also held a protest.
The protests and activities are by no means limited to historically black colleges. At the University of South Florida, black students organized a protest in which they sat with signs that demonstrated what Trayvon Martin had with him when he was shot. Signs said:
- Hoodie. Check.
- Package of Skittles. Check.
- Drink. Check.
- Black. Check.
Those statements were followed by the quote: "Hope I don’t get shot."