Robert Barchi's first year as president of Rutgers University has had plenty of controversy: athletics scandals, questions about athletics spending, criticism from the Newark campus that his focus is too much on the flagship campus, and a remark (that Barchi said was intended as a joke) that offended some minority scholars. An article in The Star-Ledger said that while Barchi has won praise for managing the merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry into Rutgers, and for the move to the Big 10 athletics conference, "[b]y all accounts, Rutgers President Robert Barchi had a difficult freshman year." The newspaper also reported that the board recently awarded him a $90,000 bonus out of the $97,500 he could have received -- and that Barchi donated the money back to the university. A letter to Barchi from the Rutgers board chair said: "We are delighted with the progress Rutgers has seen this past year, and we thank you for your dedication and leadership."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Moody’s issued a report last week warning universities of the risks associated with big-time sports and urging caution for those seeking to escalate into elite levels of competition. Focusing on institutions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the report acknowledges that while big-time sports can boost brand recognition, donor support and student applications, that’s accompanied by growing “financial and reputational risks that require careful oversight.” Those risks include budgetary strain (nine in 10 athletic programs are not self-sustaining and require growing subsidies diverted from other university operations), public scrutiny when scandals hit, depleted debt capacity caused by capital investment in athletic facilities, and uncertain future costs as concussion treatment and the amateur model continue to be challenged.
In June, Moody’s downgraded the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative, citing a major lawsuit angling for athletes to be paid. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities,” the Moody’s report said.
The Task Force on American Innovation, a coalition of industry and scholarly groups, on Friday wrote to Congressional leaders to urge increased focus on promoting innovation in the American economy. "The many companies, universities, and scientific societies that this task force represents share their view that our role as the world’s innovation leader is in serious jeopardy due to inadequate federal support for research and STEM education," the letter says. "We believe that America must maintain a commitment to its competitiveness and future innovation capabilities. This commitment is vital to short- and long-term economic growth, especially in the competitive global economy."
Three professors were honored this morning with the 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for "their empirical analysis of asset prices." The three are: Eugene F. Fama, the Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago; Lars Peter Hansen, David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics at the University of Chicago; and
Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has encouraged the state's colleges (most of them former community colleges) to develop plans for $10,000 bachelor's degrees (for four years of expenses). But The Sun Sentinel reported that not all of the programs announced have actually started, and that it is unclear just how much demand exists. Broward College, for example, opened registration for such a program a month ago, with 80 slots. To date, no one has signed up.
California's governor, Jerry Brown, last week signed a bill that seeks to nudge the state's public institutions to comply with ambitious transfer pathway legislation. The new law sets a series of timelines for community colleges to create curriculums and begin offering transfer degrees. It also requires the California State University System to accept those degrees whenever possible.
Florida, like many states, has a searchable registry of sex offenders. But for the first time, the registry offers a higher education search, so users can find out if there are sex offenders enrolled at or working at specific colleges and universities, The Sun Sentinel reported. In almost all of the cases, the offenders are students. One Florida college, Edison State College, is currently considering a complete ban on the enrollment of sex offenders, The Naples Daily News reported.
The Horace Mann School, an elite private high school in New York City, informed parents that an anonymous person has written to colleges with the goal of damaging the admissions chances of one of the school's students, New York Magazine reported. The school has contacted the admissions offices that received the material to try to undo the damage. A letter sent by Canh Oxelson, director of college counseling, to parents said: "In 20 years of college admissions, I have never witnessed anything so disrespectful.... For a student to have worked so hard for so many years, only to see those efforts jeopardized by an act of sabotage, is absolutely unconscionable."
A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) finds that college and university endowments change their policies on spending rates regularly -- a finding that was not expected. "Given the long-term and relatively static nature of the investment problem faced by the typical educational institution, existing theoretical models of endowment management predict that the permanent portion of the stated spending policy should be highly stable," the report says. But based on an analysis of more than 800 college and university endowments from 2003 through 2011, the study found that half of the endowments changed spending policies at least once, and a quarter did so every year.