Higher Education Quick Takes
The University System of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved a continuation of Salisbury University's policy -- first adopted five years ago as a pilot -- of letting students who graduate from high school with a 3.5 or higher grade point average opt out of submitting an SAT or ACT score. A study done by the university found that students who enrolled without submitting test scores outperformed those who submitted them in course completion and graduation rates, while the two groups were similar in grade-point averages at the university.
Donations to education increased by 5.2 percent in 2010 (3.5 percent when adjusted for inflation), according to "Giving USA," an annual report released today. The report notes that giving to elementary and secondary schools, and to colleges, rebounded in the late part of the year. The rate of growth for education exceeds that for all charitable giving for the year -- 3.8 percent (or 2.1 percent adjusted for inflation).
The board that governs the Oregon University System has extended the contract of the president of the University of Oregon -- but only for a year, and after telling him that he needed to be more of a team player, The Oregonian reported. Richard W. Lariviere has pushed a controversial plan designed to limit state support for the institution in exchange for significantly more independence -- and that plan, like others in Wisconsin and elsewhere, has caused friction with other public higher education leaders. (The University of Wisconsin at Madison's chancellor, Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin, announced Tuesday that she would leave to become president of Amherst College, though she said she had not been urged to leave.) "We want his participation as a member of the team," Paul Kelly, president of the State Board of Higher Education, said of Lariviere during a telephone meeting Tuesday. In extending Lariviere's contract for one year instead of the usual two or three, board members specifically mandated that he attend meetings of his peers and participate in continuing discussions about changes in Oregon's higher education structure.
New research has found that about 40 percent of the students who drop out of four-year programs do so because their early grades give them an indication that their academic ability is not what they thought it was. The research -- by Todd Stinebrickner, an economics professor at the University of Western Ontario, and his father, Ralph Stinebrickner, a professor emeritus at Berea College -- was conducted on college students in the U.S. The findings are significant, they argue, in suggesting new approaches to reaching such students with better information -- both before and after they make college choices.
Advocates for Maryland's historically black colleges and representatives of the state have agreed to settlement discussions in a suit charging Maryland with bias against the colleges, The Baltimore Sun reported. The suit -- charging unfair treatment of the black colleges -- is five years old. Key issues in the settlement talks will be whether state funding formulas hurt black colleges, and the status of "duplicative" programs that the black colleges say the state should not have authorized at nearby predominantly white institutions.
A survey of graduate program directors by the American Sociological Association has found that 17 percent believe their master's programs are very or somewhat likely to close, and another 21 percent said that their programs were "somewhat unlikely" to close. While a majority sees no immediate concern about closure, the significant minority that sees the possibility prompted analysis on funding patterns and curriculums in the master's programs.
Tihomir Petrov, a mathematics professor at California State University at Northridge, is facing two counts of urinating in a public place -- in this case on a colleague's office door. The Los Angeles Times reported that he's now a wanted man, after he failed to show up for a pre-trial hearing.
A report being released today by the European University Association finds that international university rankings provide an “oversimplified picture," in part because their methodologies are focused on research, which is just one role of universities. The report says that rankings can promote accountability, but that the lack of transparency in rankings creates "unwanted consequences," with universities investing more in research than teaching, seeking to improve their rankings.