Higher Education Quick Takes
Matt Arnold, a Republican running for the Colorado Board of Regents (Colorado is a state where regents are elected), says it is irrelevant that he has claimed to have a master's degree he did not earn, The Denver Post reported. Arnold has in the past claimed a master's degree from the School of Advanced International Studies, part of Johns Hopkins University. He now says that he did the coursework, but didn't do the required thesis -- and that those questioning his false claim are engaged in "minutiae." He explained that "I was more interested in getting on with my life than trying to, quite frankly, waste more time in pursuit of academic BS that no one cares about." Arnold added that "I think that's one of the big problems, quite frankly, with education these days. We're graduating a bunch of people who hang letters after their names, but they have no useful skills."
Three people were killed, and three others injured in a shooting Saturday night at an apartment complex near Auburn University that houses many students. Two of those killed were former football players, and one of them was still a student at the university. One of those injured is still on the football team. The university released these statements about the shootings, and is providing extra counseling services on campus.
The University Center of Samaria, an Israeli institution in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, is pushing to be declared an official university on par with those in Israel proper, and the request has angered many Israeli academics as well as Palestinians and others who oppose building up Israeli institutions in the West Bank, Haaretz reported. The center currently has temporary status as a "university institution," which provides for it to receive more money than colleges do in Israel, but not as much as universities. That status expires in July, setting off a debate over the future of the institution. The center enrolls nearly 13,000 students. Israeli politicians who are skeptical of giving up the West Bank have backed the expansion of the center, and are pushing for university status.
More than 1,000 professors at universities in Israel have signed a petition opposing any elevation of the center's status, saying that they are opposed to "the attempt to enlist academia in service of the occupation." Some Israeli university presidents have also opposed a new status for the center, saying that such a change would lead to more money being spent there at a time that the other universities need more support.
The University of Iowa is raising money for its hospitals in part by sharing information about patients with fund raisers for the university foundation, who in turn solicit gifts with letters signed by physicians, The Des Moines Register reported. Further, the foundation is letting physicians know when patients are donors, and the foundation and hospitals are working together on "wealth screenings" of patients. University officials said that these activities are legal and necessary, but some patient advocates expressed dismay.
Employees at University of Nebraska campuses will be able to sign up their domestic partners for health benefits, following a 5-to-3 vote Friday by the university's Board of Regents, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. University administrators said that extending partner benefits was the right thing to do, and was needed to recruit top faculty members. They noted that all of the other Big 10 institutions (of which Nebraska is a new member) have such policies. Critics accused the university of undermining the institution of marriage.
The board of Florida A&M University voted 8-4 Thursday that it lacks confidence in James Ammons, the university's president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Ammons has faced much criticism for failing to deal with widespread hazing by the university's band -- hazing that has received considerable attention since the death of a student last year. But questions have also been raised about other issues, including the university's fragile finances and audits suggesting inadequate management controls. Ammons vowed at the board meeting that he would improve. "I hear you loudly and clearly," Ammons said before the vote. " I understand there are some measures I have to take as president of this university to fix things and I'm going to fix them. This is very serious. This is very serious for the future of this university and you have my commitment to fix them and get this job done." The board did not vote to suspend or fire him.
Colleges and universities (and the states that regulate them) need to embrace an entrepreneurial approach to reforms, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Among the recommendations:
- States should give higher levels of funding to institutions with better student outcomes.
- Accreditation should "place the fewest possible restrictions on both new and existing providers to encourage innovation." Further, accreditation "should focus much less on inputs and much more on outcome measures, such as student performance and loan default rates."
- Online instruction "should be largely deregulated as long as minimum course-level outcomes are specified."
- Universities "should identify and financially incentivize those professors whose time would be more productively spent in the classroom rather than conducting and publishing scholarly research."
Veterans' affairs and financial aid officers hoping for a clearer understanding of the requirements of an Obama administration executive order on recruiting of veterans and service members were left wanting (and frustrated) Thursday when many were shut out of the first of several webinars at which federal agency officials planned to explain the new policies. The executive order, announced in April on a visit by President Obama to a Georgia military base, will force colleges to disclose more information about financial aid and graduation rates, as well as requiring the Department of Defense to set rules for recruiting at military installations, among other things. Listservs were ablaze Thursday afternoon with complaints from the many who had been shut out as well as from those who participated, who said most of their questions went unanswered.
Officials of the Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education agencies apologized for the "computer glitch" that allowed more than 1,000 participants to sign up for webinar that was limited to 1,000 spaces, and scheduled a third event for next week.
Data released Thursday are likely to add to scrutiny of law schools and the question of whether applicants are being admitted who are unlikely to find career advancement worth the cost. The overall employment rate for those who graduated law school in 2011 is 85.6 percent, the lowest since 1994, according to a report issued Thursday by NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals. But that figure, association officials noted, doesn't reflect just how bad the job market is. Only 65.4 percent of new law grads are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. That figure is down 9 percentage points since 2008 -- and is consistent with the reports of many law graduates that they are landing jobs for which they didn't need to go to law school (many times taking out loans to do so).
James Leipold, executive director of NALP, wrote in the report that "for members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession, entering law school in the fall of 2008 just as Lehman Brothers collapsed ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."